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What is owned, earned, shared and paid media?

So often we hear people talking about fuzzy terminology such as “earned,” “owned,” “shared” or “paid” media… But what do they really mean, and how important are they?

Image taken from Gini Dietrichs'

Image taken from Gini Dietrichs’


Owned media is the most essential outlet because you control the content published here. Owned media is particularly important for new businesses. If they have an active Facebook or Instagram page, but no website to certify credibility, then arguably their sales will not reach full potential as a direct result of this.

Owned media stays online forever and provides you with an original online presence which can be shared on whichever fad social media platform is the most popular today. You should visualise owned media as a mini asset, Gini Dietrich states “the content you own creates a brand personality, helps extend your network, and brings prospective clients and/or customers to your website, where you can manage the marketing funnel.”


Earned media is the publicity your company receives. If everyone using the product or service that you’re providing enjoy it, then earned media is like golden nectar. However, if they receive a different experience to the one you promoted and promised them, then it can be critically damaging to both sales and reputation. This is where PR comes in to the mix. Earned media can be a make-or-break tool and it’s worth discussing what can happen when it goes wrong…

Let’s imagine you are providing your consumers with a type of skincare. Some consumers report a rash breaking out on their skin as result of using your produce. They tell their friends, write bad reviews and some even upload pictures to Twitter and Facebook, explaining their itchy experience. Eventually, local media outlets hear about it and a few decide to cover the story. The TV or Radio packages they produce are plastered with pictures and descriptions of this prickling mess your product has made… I think it’s safe to say that as a result of earned media, you are left with a potentially tarnished reputation.


This is where your social media channels become integrated to give you a more dominant online presence. Whilst shared media is a fantastic opportunity to interact with your consumers, it’s important that we don’t become too reliant on these channels because they can easily become yesterday’s news as new organisations and social media outlets are created. This is why Owned media is so important, because it always remains the original source, no matter where it’s being shared.

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Paid media is the most established outlet out of all four. Here we see things like traditional TV/radio ads and more recently sponsored tweets and Instagram posts. Paid media can be cost prohibitive for many companies, especially if they’re relatively new. Paid media is still a great way of reaching potential consumers. Nonetheless, with people becoming more media savvy and reliant on WOM (word of mouth), paid media has to be innovative and creative for it to remain relative, credible and interesting to the consumer.

Spin Sucks, but this book doesn’t…

Gini Deitrich (@ginidietrich) Founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich and author of ‘Spin Sucks’ has created this communications guide, which teaches us a valuable lesson in how to earn trust, rather than fall into the trap of manipulating it. In Deitrichs’ own words “this book is written for business leaders who need to better understand how the industry is changing.” ‘Spin Sucks’ educates readers on the motion that by preparing for a marathon, rather than a sprint and working ethically within the guidelines of Google, your organisation can build and maintain a powerful online presence with an immaculate reputation.

'Spin Sucks' by Gini Dietrich

‘Spin Sucks’ by Gini Dietrich

Along with instructing us on what to do, we are also informed on what no to do. The book serves as a warning to those who are perhaps motivated to spin the truth rather than in earning trust with consumers. “Lie or spin the truth, and you will be found out. People will take you to task. Your organisation will suffer from decreased sales, lower stock prices, and a tarnished reputation.” Within the pages of this short book you will find enough examples of bad spin, that even an inkling of temptation to practice ‘black hat’ PR, will soon be diminished. Dietrich’s ‘how to’ style will permit you to identify tools enabling you to communicate ethically with your intended audiences.

What I really loved about reading ‘Spin Sucks’ was that it was educational but also pleasurable! I’m grateful that it was recommended to me since it’s definitely one that anybody starting a career in communications (or even contemplating one) should read. ‘Spin Sucks’ is littered with insightful tricks and helpful tools for business owners and people within the communications industry.

Chapter Two is dedicated to Google. As the reader, we are well in formed of the history of communications. “Technology has allowed us to better understand our aucience.” Dietrich enlightens us on the technical workings of Google’s Panda and Penguin algorithms. The importance of understanding how search engines work is explained in such a way that you don’t have to spend hours reading scholarly articles searching for ways to execute your work to follow “white hat” standards rather than fall into dark arts trap of unethical “black hat” manipulation.


Perhaps the core message I took from reading this book is that the future for PR is also one that stretches across all communications sectors. We all need take on a “marathon mentality” by creating strong content and being able to change and adapt to new situations and discover and utilise new technologies relative to the time. This isn’t a book of philosophies, we are refreshingly provided with practical advice.

My only criticism of this book is that it’s only 146 pages long. Great for business leaders who need a quick read with snappy advice, but actually I was disappointed when it came to an end. I wanted to read more of this fresh information, so much so that I subscribed to Gini’s blog, also named ‘Spin Sucks.’

You should absolutely join me in subscribing to Spin Sucks and connect with the other 41,000 subscribers. Not only is there regular content uploaded, it’s also so relevant to current issues and the future of marketing and PR. The blog shares the key themes that lay within the book and if you’re worried about being thrown in at the deep end, then you shouldn’t be. Both the book and blog are really useful tools for students studying communications.

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Merging; a result of public relations adapting to the digital media landscape

There’s an undeniable increasing crossover between advertising and public relations agencies. Philipe Michel states “the job of advertising is not to sell, but to create a cultural link between the desires of the entrepreneur and those of the public.” In order to do that, you need practitioners who understand the importance of these relationships and cultural links, not just creative ways in which we can target a chosen demographic with ambient or interruptive advertising. The merging together of several professions will be beneficial as those working in these fields will become multi-skilled just so long as they’re capable and willing to adapt to this exciting hybrid prospect.

Before social media, the impact the consumer had on any given company was relatively insignificant. The reputation of the company was dependent upon their practices and relationships. Now, with social media, the consumer is the critic. Alongside this rise of consumer voice, communications teams must work together in order to ensure the consumers involvement in the company is a positive and unified experience so that interest is maintained. Due to this, practitioners have to become all-rounders which I think is an exciting possibility that should be embraced rather than feared. By learning and developing new skills we can better our profession for our clients and ourselves.

From this inevitable merge with communications sectors, we can all work together towards the same goals. Audiences will become the primary priority as we realise that not only can our messages not be controlled anymore, but that the audience themselves actually control the message as a result of technological advancements providing them with the power to become leaders involved with organisation reputation thanks to the Internet. Consequently, markets become powerful conversations where word of mouth is arguably sometimes more powerful than advertising.

Traditionally, creative teams have been associated with using the right side of their brains whilst the more analytical roles have been typically known to use the left. As suggested by Stella Bayles’ ‘Public Relations’ Digital Resolution’ “PR future is equal measure of use between right and left… We have to merge strategy and creativity together.” PR practitioners of the future need both logical and creative interests. After taking the Sommer & Sommer brain test recommended by Stella, I’m happy (and relieved) to see that according to the test, I use both sides equally.

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To take the test yourself, head over to

Writing this, I found myself asking ‘is the merging of communications teams a direct result of social media?’ Well, yes.  Although we have always had social media, we haven’t always had mass media. Standage states, “social media is not new, it has been around for centuries.” (Standage 2013). The introduction of mass media, along with this new form of social media whereby you can post reviews and opinions online for everyone to see, signifies that social media has evolved from frail physical conversations to concrete statements plastered online. As a direct result of this, the merging of communications teams takes place. As PR practitioners,we have the emotional intelligence allowing us to anticipate public reaction. This is precisely why merging with marketing and advertising teams will be beneficial to everyone. We become the gatekeepers able to shape the message using emotional intelligence throughout the whole creative process which creates a more relatable experience for the intended audience(s).

From the perspective of potential clients (as well as their consumers) the best service wins. Operating together, we are able to offer new prospects that were potentially unreachable in a time where we were working as individual institutions. Many practitioners argue that this will be the downfall of PR. However, if we take light of this inevitable future of PR and communications together, we begin to understand that we can both learn techniques and lessons from each other when it comes to growing and building a coherent industry between once individual sectors.

Word Count: 587


Standage, T., (2013) Writing on the Wall: Social Media – the first 2,000 years. London: Bloomsbury.

Bayles, S., (2015) Public Relations’ Digital Resolution: A PR pro’s guide to a brighter future and bigger budgets. [Online]. [Accessed 03 November 2015].

Sommer & Sommer Available from: [Accessed on 03 January 2016].


Influence adapting public relations in the digital media landscape

Public relations has changed vastly in the last 20 years.  PR today has several channels of communication, too many to list. With these new channels of communication also comes new opportunities of influence.


I came across this infographic from via reading an article on

Thanks to these new channels, we are able to target both ‘niche’ and ‘mass’ markets. Conventional media is not dominant anymore, as Willcox states “‘A fast lane PR professional will understand the fundamental concepts behind search, be good at using lots of different online tools to identify audiences and influencers, identify relevant social media channels and focus on doing them well and be able to adjust their tone when speaking to social media authors rather than just treating in the same way as journalists.” (Willcox, 2011) Organisations are now desperate to find alternative potential influencers and these influencers will become a dominant player in the digital media landscape due to media fragmentation.

Our clients audiences are becoming increasingly media and tech savvy; Google is constantly producing new algorithms, which act as a governing body on the World Wide Web in order to enforce authority. This is precisely why it is now more important than ever to acquire channels of influence that already have established relations with the intended audiences. If the primary form of building trust (business themselves via product promotion) is unachievable or tough then we can use this secondary influential way to build trust between audience and product by using new channels to build relationships. In turn, that establishes a trusting relationship between audience and client, even though they’ve never had a ‘direct’ point of contact, it has come from the influencer. This might not be enough to generate customer loyalty, but it’s certainly an achievable starting point.

As PR practitioners, we decide upon the most relevant channels of influence, without fully realising that the consumers themselves, as a body, are perhaps the biggest stimulus of them all. As stated in PRstack useful tool to tackle both these issues is Influential Blogs‘ – it’s an online database of influential bloggers in the UK. You type in a category relating to your company e.g. ‘health’ and you’ll receive a list of the most relevant blogs with the biggest reach. 

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People today are primarily concerned with listening to their influencers when it comes to engaging with new brands or organisations. “The more influential the journalist, blogger or social influencer you work with the more Google realises your client is an authority on the topic in your coverage.” (Stella Bayles 2015) So, targeting the influencers with the relevant influence channels itself is not a new concept, but looking at the metrics of influence is. PR practitioners are essentially the middle-man who connect organisations to the relevant influencers.

There are several ways we can measure influence, a few you should check out are Brandwatch,  Social Authority and Klout. The one I want to cover today is Traackr. It not only allows you to use their own search engine to view your potential influencers’ online footprint, but also provides you with the ability to connect with them at the right time.

Image taken from

Image taken from

Ever heard of the expression “right person, wrong time”? Well, engaging with potential influencers is a little bit like that. As any PR practitioner will tell you, topical timing is vastly important in this industry. In order to do this, you need to listen to online conversations so that you can pitch your ideas to the relevant influencers at the right time. Traackr allows you to do this, however the downfall of Tracker is that although it’s certainly useful, it’s cost prohibitive for a lot of businesses.

We can create a more relatable experience for the consumer if we choose the correct channels of influence in the current digital media landscape. Creating sharable content allows us to create earned influence instead of targeting influence channels that aren’t useful or relative to our audience.

Word Count: 586


Inkhouse (2013) The Re-imagining of PR Available from: [Accessed on 07 January 2016].

Bayles, S., (2015) Public Relations’ Digital Resolution: A PR pro’s guide to a brighter future and bigger budgets. [Online]. [Accessed 03 November 2015].

Example: Royal College of Nursing (2009) Learning and Education. Available from: [Accessed 22 December 2010].

Willcox, D., Behind the Spin (2011) PR – a two speed industry Available from: [Accessed 06 December 2015]. 

PRstack (2015) influencer relations Accessed from: https// [Accessed on 01 January 2016].

Traackr (2015) Features Available from: [Accessed on 29 December 2015].

Public relations adapting to technological advancements within the digital media landscape

2000 was a big moment for those working in PR. The Internet took off, Google arrived, social media went mainstream and the change of consuming and watching habits went from TV to digital and social media. With that, organisations were handed new and exciting ways to reach and communicate with their multiple audiences. However, along with these exciting new channels came consumer power unlike ever before. Organisations could no longer control the whole message that their publics received. A two-way conversational structure emerged between organisation and consumer. Consumers now had the ability to make or break an organisations reputation by publishing reviews. The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) states “Public Relations is about reputation – the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you.” This highlights the fact that positive online conversation is crucial to a businesses success.

As stated in ‘Public Relations’ Digital Resolution’ by Stella Bayles, Google knows our publics better than anyone. With 3 billion searches each day, Google accounts for up to 90% of web searches in the UK and the US.  Along with that, organisations have naturally evolved to use online platforms to target their chosen demographic. With people becoming more reliant on technology in a society where attention spans are shortening, we should be using the data that Google is providing for free in order to conduct research and make predictions. Due to the rise of social media and the number of people using the internet, as PR practitioners we can use tools such as Google Suggest and to predict what it is that our clients’ audience wants.

Google Suggest is a free tool available for anybody to use. Google collects data from every person using the search engine, meaning that when you type in a word, below you will find a drop-down list of frequently searched terms other people have searched for relating to what you’ve already typed. To give you an example, I tried this by typing in “running” to Google:

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Before I talk about how this is beneficial to us from a PR perspective adapting within the digital media landscape, I want to introduce you to another tool;, this site allows you to type in a word, and instead of simply giving us similar terms searched, it will provide us with questions relating to your original word that people have asked search engines. You can also limit your results geographically which is useful if you’re interested in country specific consumers. Once you’ve entered your keyword, you’re provided with a visualisation of the data. It’ll look something like this:

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As you can see, from using this in PR, we can see exactly what our consumer is looking for. We have the ability to research our audience just by using search engines, saving time and money on focus groups. This enables us to make predictions on their desires meaning we create a more relatable experience for the consumer via this consumer data insight.

Target audiences online are mostly already “market savvy”, making purchases on their terms and usually only using products and/or services that have either already been recommended to them or have high online recommendations. Everything is just a click away; if it’s pitched incorrectly to the consumer they won’t delay to go to another webpage. Agencies will have to converse in unconventional and creative new channels in order to preserve consumer interest.

To adapt to the digital media landscape, PR is going to have to get personal. We will have to work harder to keep human contact between consumer and organization active and coherent. The core roles don’t change, but the way in which we practice and achieve these roles will have to adapt and become creative if we are going to stay active in a world of Trip Advisor word-of-mouth reputation management. Thanks to technology, audiences now have the tools to decide upon what information shared is actually relevant to them, as well as being given the ability to create and share their own information on a service or product.

An alternative but still relevant argument is that the multitude of the media today is precisely why PR is still very relevant and needed in today’s digital media landscape. The expansion of the Internet has become so vast and sometimes unreliable, which has in itself created the need for human contact to remain active and coherent between company and consumer. As Stephen Waddington states, “shedding the shackle of media relations will be critical to the future success of the public relations industry. It is inevitable that as traditional media continues to fragment because of technological change, and consumer behaviour becomes increasingly participatory, that organisations must change how they communicate.” (Earl and Waddington 2012: 202)

To conclude, Public Relations is adapting to the digital media landscape by providing clients consumers with what they want, making predictions of the desires of various publics and identifying consumer habits by experimenting with new online tools. Due to this, there is a more considered methodology set in place as public relations adapts to the current digital media landscape in an honest two-way conversational fashion whereby public opinion is listened to and taken into account. “Clearly, the multi-directional nature of online communications challenges the traditional idea of public relations involving a straightforward distribution of a message to a passive audience.” (Yaxley in Theaker, 2012: pp 423) We should all be looking at the unquestionably changing media landscape as an opportunity, not a restriction when it comes to conveying messages and interacting with consumers.

Word count: 974


CIPR (2015) What is PR? Available from: [Accessed 19 November 2015].

Bayles, S., (2015) Public Relations’ Digital Resolution: A PR pro’s guide to a brighter future and bigger budgets. [Online]. [Accessed 03 November 2015].

AnswerThePublic Available from: [Accessed 01 January 2016].

Waddington, S., Earl, S., (2012) Brand Anarchy. London: Bloomsbury.

Theaker, A., (2012) The Public Relations Handbook. 4th ed. Abingdon: Routledge.

Personal reflection

When I started my degree in Journalism and Public Relations my hope was to accomplish a more defined understanding of what specific sector I wanted to be a part of and what certain job role I wanted to work towards obtaining. However, I’m relieved that the exact opposite has happened. From studying PR I’ve begun to understand that all communications industries work closely together, every single module that I’ve studied, I have thoroughly enjoyed. So, instead of narrowing my search, my studies have actually broadened it, which has given me such an array of options and an open mind as I continue my second year and go on into my third.

Through my studies, I’ve realised that my primary preferred learning style is visual, with verbal as a secondary style. Using graphs, charts and videos when it comes to studying definitely embeds key findings into my head and creating infographics has also been useful to me. I have found myself using verbal learning styles when it comes to academic writing. Making voice recordings of summarised notes ensures that what I will write is firstly, coherent, and secondly, makes sense. *Unpopular opinion alert* I also find that listening to music whilst I’m writing really does help get my ideas onto paper. (Perhaps it’s because I’m a Gemini – we tend to have difficulty sitting still).

Working socially in groups this year has been an eye-opener for me. One of my modules this year was Exploring Creative Advertising Processes and the ideas that we were able to bounce off each other resulted in us coming up with a sound campaign, one that our lecturer felt she “could see working as an actual campaign.” Perhaps I was lucky with my group in that we were all determined to succeed in that module and the topic was one that we all found quite fascinating, nonetheless I would love to do more group work in the future as a result of this.

I’ve learned that you always have to keep an open mind when you’re learning about or working within any form of communication sector as these industries are constantly adapting (or at least they should be) in order to mimic the continual adaptation of human communication.

I’ve always enjoyed reading and writing. The subject I excelled most at in school was English Literature, so I’ve been surprised to find that my biggest challenge has been finding subjects to write about on my blog. In the coming months I will be pushing myself to write more frequently about subjects that force me out of my comfort zone. Don’t be shocked to see a few car crash experiments on here in the not-so-distant future… *kidding*


My new years resolution for 2016 in relation to my degree and my personal development, is to learn more about Events PR and gain further practical experience in PR. I have arranged a short internship with The Happy Grass Company where I will be managing their social media accounts with the possibility of running a digital media campaign mid-2016 that I have already pitched to them. My hope is that this opportunity will help turn theory into practice as I continue studying this kaleidoscopic filed.

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5 ways to diminish deadline stress

It’s December 8th and with my deadlines fast approaching I’m beginning to feel ever so sliiiiightly restless in regard to my assignments.

Here’s a list I’ve made for those of you struggling with your own deadline doomsdays;

  1.  Balance  

It really does help if you balance out your work throughout the semester/term. As soon as you get an assignment your first thought should be to plan, plan, plan!

Even if you’re just occasionally jotting down a few sentences or ideas/concepts that are relevant to your topic – it’ll help you heaps in the long run.

I have the memory of a goldfish, so if you’re anything like me, unless it’s written down in your notes, by the time it comes to actually writing said essay you’ll have forgotten 98.6% of the relevant concepts. (See pic below of Natalia’s sound example of perfect PR preparation).

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2.  Think Blue

When you’re in a class or lecture, always write down the important stuff in BLUE ink. Studies suggest that the human brain is more capable of remembering a higher capacity of information when it’s written in blue.

3. “A tidy room is a tidy mind” 

–This is so true. I promise you that if you take 30 minutes out of your day to tidy your room or the area you’re working in, you’ll find it easier to write.

Getting rid of clutter is a good place to start. This doesn’t mean throwing away your summer clothes just because it’s winter, but try to be a bit brutal when it comes to chucking things that you clearly don’t need or will never use again.

4. Herbal remedies 

Please try not to stress! Even if you’ve left your work until the 11th hour, stress isn’t going to help you. Perhaps the adrenaline of stressing will enable you to pull an all-nighter, however the work you produce in this linguistic pool party is unlikely to be your best.

There are many herbal remedies out there, ones that work for me are St. John’s Wort, camomile tea or even 10 minutes of meditation as they can bring stress levels down and improve productivity.


If you do find yourself stressing, taking a few deep breaths. Allow yourself 30 minutes to go back through any notes you’ve made and create an essay structure before you start writing.

5. If all else fails, try something different… Bake a cake!

If you’re really not in the right frame of mind to be writing academic essays, take yourself to the closest kitchen and bake to your hearts content. Personally, I would recommend indulging in some form of chocolate cake because it’s always comforting and stimulates the release of endorphins!

P.S. If the guilt of excessive self indulgence kicks in after No. 5., perhaps pulling out some trainers and taking yourself to the gym will mask the shame.


Influence in numbers

Like every other student in the country studying PR, I have an interest in it’s role within the changing media landscape. In order for Public Relations to evolve with it, practitioners need to consider influence as a dominant player when it comes to adapting.

As consumers become more media savvy, the media is becoming more fragmented. Consumers have the power to be smarter due to the internet. The Cluetrain Manifesto notes “there are no secrets. The networked market knows more than companies do about their own products. And whether the news is good or bad, they tell everyone.” Meaning, people don’t talk to other people physically so much anymore because social media conversation has partially replaced the convention of physically conversing. Consumers now communicate via their online networks. Everything is stored online thus making it more powerful. It is fuelled by us and used heavily by us.

Due to this, public opinion matters more now than ever. In a world of TripAdvisor, instead of placing trust into the hands of corporations, people are now turning to their more intimate network circles for recommendations and advice.

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Perhaps as a direct result of this, Edelman have set up a Trust Barometer which informs us which businesses the public trust most which is useful when it comes to re-engineering trusting relationships.

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20 years ago, Edelman’s Trust Barometer wouldn’t have been necessary as there was just one major channel of influence within mass media. Now we have the Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube to name but a few in a world of instant gratification. This is likely to mean that as a result of media fragmentation, we could have hundreds of influencers instead of the traditional structure of a sole authoritative influencer.

Mass media has the potential to reach millions of people. However, just because something is seen on prime time TV, it doesn’t mean we will see a change in attitudes or behaviours.

This is where the key word ‘influence’ comes in. As PR practitioners, we should be targeting online communities for influencers. In order to rebuild customer relationships with businesses we need to first figure out who their influencers are. Within this process we will begin to understand the role of PR people as gatekeepers. 

“We are living through a radical transformation of our communications environment.” – John Naughton 2012.

According to David Manning White, everybody working within communications is classed as a gatekeeper. PR practitioners are gatekeepers, we have the duty to shape messages and pass them on to an audience or organisation. In the future, we may use influencers to pass on these messages in order to reach our media savvy consumers.

Conventional media is not dominant anymore, people are now desperate to find alternative potential influencers and these influencers will become a dominant player in the digital media landscape due to media fragmentation.

This year so far…

2015 has seen Queen Lizzy winning the title of Britain’s longest reigning monarch, Madonna grew wings at the Brits and more recently, John Lewis reduced the country to tears.

This year, my Public Relations class at UWE have been lucky enough to be invited to talks held by established PR practitioners, review PR related books and create our own blogs.

Collectively, we have created a list of our own highlights from this academic year so far;

For me, this year has flown by… My most memorable moment of 2015 so far has to be making it onto Behindthespin’s #BestPRBlogs weekly contest.

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Rebecca Bateson “Learning new features for twitter has been a highlight because it has opened up a whole new world of social media. It has allowed me to have conversations with professionals I previously never would have been able to have. Putting me one step closer to future employers”

Oliver Miller: “For me, changing universities has been my highlight because it’s been great to meet new people and begin my journey learning about PR practices.”

Liam Bettinson: Liam has chosen blogging as his highlight from 2015. “Your watershed lecture ‘How to get on in PR’ assured me that PR was the career I wanted to follow. So, I became more focused on a PR’s greatest possession – their blog.”


Abi Bunce: “Sarah Pinch’s talk at the Watershed has inspired the next step of my career”


Hugo Gerwat: “I chose this moment because it was a turning point for me and probably marked my first step as a PR practitioner. The journey’s not over and I’m learning more and more about new media everyday, and I now understand the importance of this media, which I didn’t before.”

We are all looking forward to continuing our blogging journeys throughout the Christmas period and creating new highlights in 2016.


On Friday the 13th we saw the horrific massacre in Paris orchestrated by ISIS. In any time of crisis, your last thought would be to think about how social media is used… During the last 48 hours, all social media outlets have come together in unity to support Parisians.

Olive branches were extended throughout Paris when Twitter’s ‘open door’ #porteouverte surfaced. The premise was that if you were in Paris and in need of shelter, you could use this hashtag and locals would invite you into their homes and provide you with a safe place to eat and sleep.

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Facebook introduced a feature on their site in 2014 named “Safety Check” which enables people around any area affected by disaster to check in as ‘safe’ on Facebook so their family and friends could be assured that their loved ones were okay. On Friday, the company turned on a Safety Check for Paris and it has since been used by 4.1 million people. As a result of this, 360 million Facebook users have been notified that their friends and/or family are safe. Screen Shot 2015-11-14 at 20.21.29

Facebook has also given its users an option to filter their profile picture with the French flag, allowing them to show support of Parisians in this time of mourning.

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It should be noted that on Friday, social media became the most used platform to break news. Sky was reporting content far slower than Twitter. News was breaking on social media and there was no mention of it on news outlets such as the BBC and Sky up to 30 minutes later. Of course with ‘official’ news outlets, time needs to be given to check facts and confirm source credibility, but Twitter has an advantage over traditional outlets because information is distributed instantly which provides the consumer with immediate consumption.

Along with the humanitarian features we have seen, the trouble with social media taking a dominant role in this humanitarian disaster is that there was also a lot of false information being thrown around. Even though each tweet has a visible date attached to it, we saw an old Donald Trump Tweet from January being mistaken for a new one;

IMG_4832 After the explosions outside Stade de France, many people believed there to be an additional attack on the Louvre museum. It was reported that gunfire was heard at the Louvre museum. These reports were false, any unusual police activity around that area was due to the attacks going on in neighbouring districts. Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 12.35.50

After French President Francois Hollande announced that Paris will have three days of mourning, landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and Disneyland will remain closed until the city’s state of mourning is over. 

Although there were several misconceptions created on social media, it has been reassuring to see the world use social media to protect and provide those in need with refuge. This is a prominent example showing that social media is evolving. It’s no longer used just to converse and communicate, and on Friday it was used as a humanitarian tool to provide shelter to hundreds.