Monday 23 April 2012

My perfect job...

As part of an university assessment, we were asked to produce a reflexive diary covering an area of media employment which interests us, along with an outline of what our pursuing job entails. 

The area of media employment I have chosen to select for this assignment is a Public Relations officer, often referred to as a PR officer. I have chosen to study this area of media employment as it interest me greatly, also I feel that my skills in organisation would be a invaluable in the profession. 

A public relations officer can work in both private and public sectors, along with in-house employment. Other job possibilities include freelance agency, and self-employment, however most job prospects exist in large professional businesses, often in London as it is seen to be the centre of media employment. No set of qualifications are needed to pursue this aspired job, however as research has proven, most applicants tend to have a degree or HND in a helpful subject for PR, for example; Communication and Media studies, English and Literary Studies, Business management or marketing. Other beneficial ways to enhance a CV (Curriculum Vitae) for Public relations are to volunteer, gaining experience. Often by helping local charities can give exposure when planning events by contracting media outlets and writing press releases and articles. It is also important to keep a record of any organised events planned yourself or writing as a portfolio when applying for new jobs. Starting points for a PR officer may include; joining a consultancy, inter-ships, joining an in-house PR department in a junior role for example a PR assistant. 

It is important for a PR officer to attend networking events, media events, attend meetings with clients, suppliers, partner organisations and managers. Work hours for a PR agent are usually 9-5, however can increase depending on workload, often becoming unsociable hours. Also officers must be available for on-call duties as aspects of a PR crisis may occur. A PR officer aims to influence the media, to gain understanding and support for clients, by using all different forms of media and communication, which aims to build, maintain and manage the reputation of their clients. Public relations officers monitor publicity and conduct research to find out the concerns and expectations of an organisation’s stakeholder, then to report and explain findings to their management. Simply meaning their job is to conduct research to specify trends in markets which enables PR officers to fully manage their clients, and to attract a target audience by influencing their opinions and behaviour. 
PR officers forms of media communication to create and sell an idea/lifestyle or commodity, below is an image of a PR stunt. 

Typical work activities undertaken by a public relations officers include; 
  • Planning, Developing and implementing Public Relations strategies
  • Researching, writing or distributing press releases to target audiences
  • Collating and analysing media coverage
  • Commissioning market research
  • Fostering community relations through events, such as open days, through involvement in community initiatives
However more important aspects of work undertaken by public relations officers include;
  • Liaising with colleagues and key spokespeople
  • Answering enquires from media, individuals and other organisations (often via telephones, emails)
  • Devising and coordinating photo opportunities
  • Supervising the production of promotional videos, photographs, films and multi-media programme’s.
  • Sourcing and managing speaking and sponsorship opportunities
  • Managing the public relation aspects of a potential crisis. 
Skills needed whilst obtaining a PR Officer position, include; 
  • Excellent communication and writing skills
  • Drive, competence, flexibility, and time management skills with the ability to multi-task
  • Ability to cope under pressure
  • Creativity, imagination, ability to use initiative
  • Good teamwork skills, analytical and problem solving skills
  • Business awareness and a good knowledge of current affairs
Points for myself as improvement as an undergraduate, are to develop writing and communication skills, writing for a university paper or magazines is a way to develop this. Again skills to improve could be to gain a wider knowledge of current affairs and businesses involved in Public relations, undertaking work experience or volunteers in local communities is a way to develop this essential skill. 
However skills learnt in university include knowledge of Public Relations as a result of guest speaker, (Nick Fulford). Public Speaking, (in which Clive Flowers mentored). This skill reinforces an essential skill needed to obtaining a PR officer position; Excellent communication. This skill will enhance by enabling me to initial interviews, whilst applying for different positions, along with the ability to meet clients, managers and investors with confidence when public speaking. 
Public Relations officer have a reputation of not being trusted as their opinions ‘appear bias, as they generate propaganda about the clients they are supporting. By researching trends in markets enables PR officers to advice clients play to these trends. 

Websites used to gain information and also state employment;

Friday 20 January 2012


Hegemony a term coined by Gramsci in 1970. Branston and Stafford 2008, argued that concept from g
Gramsci suggests that power is achieved by dominant groups through successful struggles to persuade the subordinate that arrangements are in their interest. (Branston & Stafford 2008; 541).

"Hegemony contributes to or constitutes a form of social cohesion not through force or coercion, not necessarily through consent, but most effectively by way of practices, techniques and methods which infiltrate minds and bodies, cultural practices which cultivate behaviours and beliefs, tastes and desires, and needs as seemingly naturally occurring qualities and properties embodies in the psychic and physical reality ( 'or truth') of the human subject".

(Smart, B (2004) Michael Foucault, London; Routledge)

This simply means that Hegemony develops social unity, through practices in the psychic or mind which reflect dominant ideas and beliefs in human subjects.

Branston, G & Stafford R (2008) The Media Students book. London & New York. Routledge

Thursday 27 October 2011

Public Relations:

This week in the module 'Consumerism', we covered Raymond Williams theory of Public Relations.

Public Relations is a result of advertising, Williams argues that "Advertising was developed to sell goods, in a particular kind of economy, however publicity has been developed to sell persons, in particular a kind of culture". (Williams, R 1980). For example well established members of society e.g Celebrities often have PR agents who specialise in 'arranging' (often through payment) a situation which either portrays a celebrity in a specific way, or helps to sell an idea/lifestyle/commodity. Williams refers to this method of advertising as 'Magic', ".... a highly organised and professional system of magical inducements and satisfactions, functionally very similar to magical systems in simpler societies, but rather strangely coexistent with a highly developed scientific technology".

Previous examples of PR stunts are:

Edward Bernays.  In the 1920s, working for the American Tobacco Company, he sent a group of young models to march in the New York City parade. He informed the media that a group of women’s rights marchers would light “Torches of Freedom”. On his signal, the models lit Lucky Strike cigarettes in front of the eager photographers. The New York Times (1 April 1929) printed: “Group of Girls Puff at Cigarettes as a Gesture of ‘Freedom’”.

PETA. The animal rights campaign group are renowned for their highly visible, frequently controversial campaigns. From young women dressed in lettuce bikinis to the annual "Running of the Nudes" PR stunt which sees PETA activists run naked through Pamplona, Spain in a parody of the bull run tradition. The organisation has managed to win the celebrity vote – as such Christy Turlington, Eva Mendes and Naomi Campbell have posed naked on billboards supporting the slogan “I’d Rather Go Naked than Wear Fur.”

Williams, R. (1980) 'Advertising: the magic system', in Problems in Materialism and Culture, London: Verso.

Monday 17 October 2011

SuperMarket Sweep Activity

Visit a well-known supermarket (ie. Tesco/ Asda) buy two food products from different ranges e.g. (Value/ Finest). Using a semiotic analysis, analyse both products, thinking about the way social differences are created through supermarket goods. 

"Semiotics is concerned with everything that can be taken as a sign". (Eco 1976 in Chandler D, Semiotics: The Basics). 
After visiting the supermarket Tesco, I have chosen to do a semiotic analysis on a strawberry Tesco value yogurt and a strawberry finest yogurt. 

The first image shows Tesco own brand 'Value' strawberry yogurt. The plain (white) plastic packaging and blue colours reflect that this product is part of the Tesco range, the use of the word ‘Value’, also signifies that the product is good value for money. The red 'Value' also connotes the products cheap prize. The plain bold writing, along with the lack of images also suggest a cheap price range. 
(fig 2)

In contrast the second image of Tesco finest range of yogurts have connotations of wealth and have a higher status value reflecting marx's idea of 'Goods being socially valued', as the packaging is silver and black, also with a large image of a strawberry reinforcing the desirability of the product, with bright vibrant colours. 
Veblen's theory of consumption relies on Marxian analysis of social difference as people amass socially valued goods to portray identity and achieve social status. Again this also suggests Lasch's idea of grandiosity with reference to narcissism as a result of capitalism. For example 'shoppers' believe Tesco finest range has higher social class/value as a result of distinction with capitalism. 
Baurdrillard believes that consumerism is made through a 'system of signs', for example using Barthes theory of semiotics, the Tesco Value range yogurt and Tesco finest range yogurt's main difference is through visual signs such as colour of packaging and the packaging itself, as the white, blue and red connotes the supermarket Tesco, where as the silver and black packaging along with the pictures on the luxury yogurt pot connotes wealth as silver has associations with money. Tesco Finest generally targets the higher class consumers, for example as a stereotype lower class consumers have a lower income, therefore higher social class consumers earn more, and as a result social difference is created through the price and marketing of a product. Reflecting Bourdieu's theory of three types of capital as stars (celebrities) often endorse a brand e.g. Stacey Solomon and 'Iceland', therefore suggesting that 'Icelands' products are highly prized like the celebrity. This suggests that supermarkets create social differences through the advertisement of different brands, i.e value and luxury items. "I shop for things that make me 'better' than you."

Wednesday 12 January 2011

Mise- en - scene

The proposal is a ‘romantic comedy’, starring Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds. On the verge of deportation Margaret (Sandra) announces her engagement to her unsuspecting assistant Andrew (Ryan). After blackmailing Andrew for a promotion he agrees to this arrangement and the couple fly to Alaska to visit Andrews family and celebrate his ‘gammy’s’ 90th birthday. They have four days to convince his family and a very skeptical immigration officer. 
(The proposal, 2009, Touchstone Pictures and Directed by; Anne Fletcher) Fig 2

The overall message of this Mise-en-scene, is dominance and power, reflecting the dominant hegemonic group for females. This Mise-en-scene shows gender reversal, portraying Margaret as the dominant character, this is show in many ways, for example Andrew holding Margaret’s handbag. The frame of this mise-en-scene is a mid shot, with front focus on the main characters, Andrew and Margaret. The lighting is bright reflecting daytime as sunlight streams through the glass windows. 
To denote this frame, you can see sky scrappers through the windows which gives the idea of a city perhaps like New York, representing an office in New york which suggests power. The dominance of clothes such as suits helps to reinforce the Legemonic values of a professional and powerful boss which suggests a conservative dress. The use of verbal language also reflects this as Andrew (Ryan Reynolds) addresses Margaret (Sandra Bullock) with a cup of coffee and also says “Morning Boss”. The use of a red tie, connotes the idea of romance or passion which reflects the genre of the film. Margaret’s body language also connotes power, with her strong posture and combed back hair, she is also wearing high heels and makeup, which show her femininity and power which shows a mixed message however connotes femininity along with dominance. Margaret’s office is clean and modern, she also has manuscripts all over her desk, showing her professionalism. Her dominance is shown over Andrew, as he is holding her handbag, his expression is slightly tense showing her control over him, this is shown by Peirce’s ‘indexical signs’ through facial expressions. However Andrew’s expression is unusual or abnormal of the traditional hegemonic ‘norms’ governing gender within a business, for example traditional hegemonic rules would suggest that the Andrew is dominant in this film. Her expression is slightly annoyed, and Margaret’s expression is nonchalant, showing her control over Andrew once again. Elements are power are shown in this mise-en-scene as the hegemonic group is portrayed in this film, for example Andrew is the dominant hegemonic male, who is white, tall and attractive. Margaret’s character is much the same, as her dominance is reflected in her heels, makeup, and fitted suit. The mise-en-scene also represents a busy society and white culture. Sign’s such as Margaret’s sky scrappers, help to contribute to the overall meaning of power and wealth, they also help to reinforce the dominant hegemonic group in society, as powerful and professional white Americans. 

Thursday 4 November 2010

Thoughts about: Media Studies and Visual Cultures

Media Studies and Visual Cultures:
Being six weeks into the course, Im really enjoying myself at university, in and out of lectures. I took some time to adjust from Sixth form to university as traveling was quite difficult as i’m currently living at home and traveling every day to study. Traveling as i’ve mentioned below on this blog page, was particularly difficult the first week because of the golf tournament (Ryder Cup) in the Celtic Manor, (Newport), therefore traffic was bad, which meant leaving earlier to arrive in time for lectures.
The course consists of three lecturers, Ashley Morgan where we study, being academic, Cath Davies - Introduction to theory and Andrea Williams, Constructing meaning. 
I particularly enjoy Cath’s lectures as I enjoy learning about new theorists and their involvement with media studies. Studying Media Studies at school helped to understand Cath’s lectures and enjoy them a great deal. 
Ashley’s are very helpful, beginning university is a big step and to have help bridging the gap between A level or college and university. Also academic language can be difficult so ashley’s lectures help to develop skills. 
I also enjoy andy’s lectures, having just completed my first assignment I feel confident in understanding semiotics.
I personally like the idea of having assignments during the first couple of weeks, as it allows you more time to plan and structure assignments, so they are to your best ability. 
Overall i’m enjoying every aspect of my course and hope to carry on learning about Media studies. 

Text and the City:

For our first assignment of Ashley's module (being academic) we were asked to take three photo's of things that reminded us of Cardiff. I particularly enjoyed this task, as it allowed me to ‘explore’ Cardiff. However I found it hard to choose just three images to feature on my blog, as Cardiff has so many Iconic buildings. Originally I had planned to take photo’s of Cardiff Millennium Stadium and the Millennium Centre, as these both have strong connections with me. However as I ventured around cardiff I found the below pictures represented Cardiff and showed a true patriotic view of Cardiff. 

This is an iconic image for me when i think of Cardiff. There are many connotations to me when I see this image as ‘Brains’ beer sponsor’s Wales in international rugby. The emblem of the dragon helps to reinforce this idea of patriotism.  The image of a red dragon helps to reinforce the idea of  Wales, as the colour of wales is represented though the colour red. 
There is a welsh ‘myth’ about a fight between a red and white dragon, from the book ‘The Mabinogion - Lludd and Llefelys’, Their pained shrieks cause women to miscarry, animals to perish and plants to become barren. Lludd, king of Britain, goes to his wise brother Llefelys in France. Llefelys tells him to dig a pit in the centre of Britain, fill it with mead, and cover it with cloth. Lludd does this, and the dragons drink the mead and fall asleep. Lludd imprisons them, still wrapped in their cloth, in Dinas Emrys in Snowdonia. 
The dragons remain at Dinas Emrys for centuries until King Vortigern tries to build a castle there. Every night the castle walls and foundations are demolished by unseen forces. Vortigern consults his advisers, who tell him to find a boy with no natural father, and sacrifice him. Vortigern finds such a boy and on hearing that he is to be put to death to solve the demolishing of the walls, the boy tells the king of the two dragons. Vortigern excavates the hill, freeing the dragons. They continue their fight and the red dragon finally defeats the white dragon. The boy tells Vortigern that the white dragon symbolizes the Saxons and that the red dragon symbolizes the people of Vortigern. If Vortigern is accepted to have lived in the fifth century, then these people are the British whom the Saxons failed to subdue and who became the Welsh. 
This image can be found all around Cardiff on different buildings, like pubs and on various entrances of arcades.

Before coming to University, I didn’t visit cardiff a great deal, only to go shopping or to watch a rugby game in the Millennium Stadium. Im a very patriotic girl, so its important to support Wales in rugby. However when I think of cardiff now, I think of university, more specifically UWIC. I like this picture as it very iconic and the blue writing helps the text stand out from the brick background. I choose to apply to UWIC as it offered an ideal course for me, and was perfect traveling distance from home, which allows me to have the benefits of student life and studying a university degree. Also the ability to have a home cooked dinner every evening. 
In my opinion, I believe it is important to support you University and Course so here are some interesting facts about UWIC. 
  • Cardiff School Of Art opened in the old free library building in 1865
  • It then moved in 1900 to the technical building in Dumfries place
  • In 1949 it moved to the friary
  • In 1965 it moved to Howard Gardens
  • The College of Wales was changed to the University of Wales Institute Cardiff, and established in 1996
  • UWIC consists of three campuses; Howard Gardens, Cyncoed and Llandaff. (Llandaff of course being the best)
  • UWIC celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2006.
  • There are over 11,000 students from more than 125 Countries
  • Overs over 100 undergraduate courses
  • Its the leading centre for student sports in the UK
  • UWIC is part of the University of Wales alliance
  • It has the best bus service transporting students to each campus - the UWIC rider.
These are just a few facts among many of UWIC's achievements and Important history. 

Also importantly this year UWIC was ranked within the top 70 university in the UK. 

This picture is my favorite, it sum’s up my idea of Cardiff. Being from Chepstow (just before the severn bridge) there aren’t many shops, so when i think of Cardiff, shopping is quite important. The St. David’s centre is a new shopping building, the high glass makes the orange writing stand out, which helps make the building iconic to me. The building also has a strong welsh vibe, as there is a translation “Dewi Sant”. Having done welsh A level, I think its important to see welsh around Cardiff, as it is the Capital of Wales, also it connotes that Cardiff is bilingual.