CIPR Student Representative

Last week I was absolutely delighted when my class voted for me to become CIPR Student Representative for the University of Gloucestershire.

studentreplogo2009-10Despite my recent disagreements with the University over their clearly rushed decision concerning the University buses, I like the University. The University of Gloucestershire was my first choice out of the five Universities I was required to write down on my UCAS form. Smaller class sizes are certainly beneficial compared to other Universities and the relationship between student and lecturer is priceless. It reminds me of when Oscar Wilde spoke of a hidden love, an elder person who has wisdom and the younger who has youth (leaving aside the homosexual context!).

Indeed it seems the CIPR recognise this to a degree by starting the Student Representative scheme in the first place. Students who are studying Public Relations will shape the future of the industry and without a doubt we need the guidance from practitioners and professionals.

For all of my life so far I have maintained that one should only do an action if pleasure is one of the outcomes. Obviously it is difficult to follow this hedonistic ideal in some work situations but so far this philosophy seems to be working well. Earning enough money to live comfortably is a necessity but I would gladly trade an unnecessary chunk of salary to adopt pleasure in the work place.

So for the next few weeks my brain will be abuzz with ideas regarding my new role as Student Representative.

Module Choices

Finally my module choices for this academic year have been sorted. On my PR course everybody gets a choice of two optional modules in their second year. It is then our mission to find a module that actually fits in with our timetable and is classed as ‘level 2’. The last hurdle is to make sure that we have the necessary pre-requisites for the module we chose. For example, I might want to take an English Language module but it might be necessary for me have studied an English module from last year first.

After having studied Philosophy and Ethics for A level the course has fascinated me. What could be more foundational to the human condition than the summary of human thought? Philosophy in the pre-Socratic period really was man’s first real attempt to do science. In the post-Socratic period we have figures such as Plato and, to a lesser extent, Aristotle, who gave birth to ideas which would influence religions and thought to this very day. I can’t say I always understand what certain philosophy books/essays aim to explain, but delving into rambles of thought give me pleasure. So imagine my elated glee when the Philosophy lecturer said I could study the “Ethical Traditions” module despite having not studied Philosophy at degree standard.

The news of confirmation to study the Philosophy module also came as an Advertising module was also accepted. It is strange that to fully explain Public Relations to new students that it is necessary to compare PR against Advertising. This comparison comes at a time when Advertising is struggling in a tough economic climate and PR is still slowly on the increase. Probably to boom and bloom once money becomes available again in greedy quantities.

So here endith my latest news concerning my degree.

M x

Sweet Home Cheltenham

I knew it! I knew that my worry about moving into the new house was nonsense really. Whilst living on Campus has given me some great memories, led me to have met some wonderful people, the warmth of a house cannot be beaten. Although ‘warmth’ was said through a duvet as the more comfortable the living, the higher the bills. Last night I was watching television with one of my house-mates on a small LCD TV (less power) and with no lights on around the house. After a vicious rumour the house has been searched to ensure all empty plug sockets are in the off position. Apparently even leaving a socket on whilst no appliance is plugged in uses power. Is this true?

The name of the road I am living on in Cheltenham will remain a mystery for you people. Giving out my rough location is not something I am greatly fond of, as wonderful as you all might be… there are some weirdos in the world. Although I believe my road is the most pointlessly busy road in the whole of Cheltenham. It is but one small strip but for some reason remains horrendously busy by day and, to a lesser extent, at night. In particular there is one old camper-van which sails by the window every evening which causes the house to shake with the bombacious exhaust pipe chirping away.

So what is in store for me now that I am back in Cheltenham? One of the first tasks today is to visit the town and find some shower gel and shampoo. Out of all the items I could have forgotten it was my shower bag which was amiss. Fortunately my tooth brush, shaver and smelly things managed to find my way into my travel bag.

The main reason I have visited Cheltenham so early before University is work. As a Student Ambassador at the University opportunities always arrive at the start of the year as the fresher’s fortnight begins. Despite having been so busy over the summer (I have counted 5 jobs so far) I welcome the work in Cheltenham. If I stay too long in a house, waking up too late and without any aim for each day then I soon feel quite stale.

Curiously there is one smell in this house which does fill me with comfort. Although it may sound strange the smell of damp in the hallway is homely. It fills me with childhood memories around my grandparent’s house and reminds me that home is where the heart is.

Back to University

It is strange how a summer can feel so long but as soon as the moment comes, the moment for one to leave, time seems to have become so short. Perhaps it is the same feeling older people have when they reach 60 years of age and look back at what appears to have been a brief life. Only then for them to look forward and witness a period of time less than what they have lived.

If you were to look past the mere incomparable few months I have stayed at home you would find a pit of worry at my very centre. It is difficult to explain why the knot in my stomach exists. I am only going back to Cheltenham, back to University, but most importantly back to good friends. So why should I worry? Like most emotion the feeling can be utterly irrational, no more rational to why I desire to inhale carcinogenic smoke into my lungs.

Roughly this time last year I was just starting University. I remember feeling nervous, excited but sad all at the same time during the car journey up. Walking through the main doors of my campus, maintaining my true self but attempting to hide the shakes as I received my room key. Campus rooms look destitute without any decoration, any laughter in the corridor but in that room I learnt so many life lessons. How to live with oneself, deal with loneliness which I had never felt before.

I can’t deny that the beginning of my University life started from nervous foundations.  Most students have a handful of horror stories but also an overflow of joy which require too many fingers to count. We are so lucky in this generation to have the opportunity to go to University. To live within a community who fully understand the values of wisdom, intelligence, logic but most importantly, creativity and emotion.

So whilst apprehensions partially cloud my longing desire to return back to Cheltenham all I can do is continue packing. Watch as my room becomes bare, boxes become full and the car becomes loaded. I’ll admit that some of the items being packed serve no real purpose other than sentimental value. Items which have decorated my room at home and hopefully will carry emotions to my new home.

So how will life treat me as a second year PR student? How many great new people will I meet this year? How will living in a house differ to campus halls? Will my new modules prove difficult? Time will tell.

Virile Communication

No Junk Mail metal signI have always been perplexed to why people insert the term ‘viral communication’ into a marketing mix. To label a form of communication as viral seems negative. After all, viral shares its base from Latin virulentus which means ‘poisoned wound’. Linguistically what sort of connotations could we derive from this? A communication plan that spreads as a virus on the internet which could be likened to a wound.

Unfortunately some companies, individuals and “so called” entrepreneurs on the internet feel it is necessary to use this term as their flag ship. A term which has a rotten core and has somehow come to mean an effective PR strategy. A viral means of communication could be better described as the junk mail which visits our email inboxes every day. Some fail to realise that communicating on the internet is very different from communication in the digital realm.

The way PR is practised will change depending on the medium of communication you are dealing with. In the real world it is necessary to send out press releases to various newspapers and publications. On the internet the simple act of sending and then receiving feedback does not apply in the same way. We are in the age of Web 2.0, the era of social networking and as PR practitioners/professionals we need to follow by a community’s rule. I say ‘a’ community’s rule because unlike the real world, the internet is full of different communities.

If you were to send a press release out to a publication then you would make sure that your press release suits the audience of that particular publication. In the same way the internet is full of different communities, mostly with interests in one particular subject. One should never look at a network such as Twitter and believe that there are no particular focuses. Any social network is simply a collection of people, like you and I, who do have personal interests. Using various search methods it is possible to harness these networks and to promote a message to those who will find it interesting.

What we need is a virllis PR strategy, ‘vir’ from the French meaning ‘man’. A strategy of human characteristics. In that last 20 years we have seen how technology has become far more human literate. Once it was necessary to type commands in MSDOS or UNIX to achieve access to a file. Now we have Windows Icons Menu Pointers (WIMP) interfaces on all digital devices which makes technology accessible to even the most technically illiterate individual.

So for those of you who are mass messaging us on the internet with SPAM (A word coined by a Monty Python sketch), just STOP. Do your research and actually invest in a communication strategy which can be called PR.