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Photo: Fola, taken by @BeBornSocial

As a trainee on the Taylor Bennett Foundation, I got constant exposure to programme alumni and was encouraged to connect with them throughout the programme. A few weeks ago I got the chance to have a quick chat with Folayemi Adebayo (@yoriyoriyinski) from the Spring 2016 programme sponsored by MHP Communications. I asked her about her experience since the programme and for any tips she would give an entry-level PR practitioner like myself.

Fola initially found out about the programme through the employability department at the University of East London, where she had graduated with a degree in Architecture. When asked how her Architecture degree lead her into a career in PR, she responded that at the time of graduation she was working part-time whilst looking for jobs in the architecture industry. She received an email about the Taylor Bennett Foundation and attended an information evening. At the time, a friend of hers was in PR and so she knew that she had the necessary skills to pursue it as a career.

It’s important to be proactive, ask questions and get involved”

Once on the programme, Fola found that the most challenging aspect was balancing the workload, which included weekly presentations and daily media reviews. She said the programme also encouraged creativity and she reminisced about an enjoyable visit to The Eleven – a startup studio who describe themselves as “obsessed by building great ideas into brilliant businesses”. To this day she still enjoys the social media aspect of PR and knew quite early on that Consumer PR was the direction she wanted to go in.

Apart from discovering her passion for Consumer PR, another enjoyable moment for Fola was having her article ‘Why ethnic diversity and inclusion is important in PR’ mentioned in Heather McGregor’s (founder of the Taylor Bennett Foundation) Financial Times column. However, the programme wasn’t always rosy; it did present some challenges. Fola said that during these times it helped that the five other trainees could relate. The bond between the trainees helped relieve some of the pressure and blossomed into great friendships. They still use their Whatsapp group all the time!

Following on from the programme, Fola managed to secure an internship position in PR. In the beginning, an approach she found useful was to jot down any unfamiliar PR terms and Google them later. Fola’s top tip for any PR beginners is to be energetic in everything you do and especially as an intern, know the importance of being proactive, asking questions and getting involved.

Fola reassured me that PR is a fun and social industry where you’re encouraged to have a work-life balance. She prides herself on attending events that could contribute to her own self-development and recently attended an event where she saw her favourite author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, speak.

It was great to catch up with Fola and I’m sure we’ll be keeping in touch. I look forward to what she does in the future.

Extra: To watch the fantastic TED talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie click here

Washington vs. Silicon Valley

In December 2015 there was a terrorist attack in San Bernidino, California. During the attack 14 people were killed and 22 were seriously injured. At the time it was reported to be the deadliest mass shooting in America. The two suspects, Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, faced a shootout with police and were both killed. Months after the attack took place, the FBI came forward saying they had an iPhone 5C used by Farook. The FBI approached Apple to crack the phone but the Department of Justice had to undergo a legal fight with Apple because they resisted the request. Throughout this, Apple remained strong to their key messages and handled the situation well. This blog post will look at some key points, such as the letter to Apple customers, the 30-minute interview with Apple CEO Tim Cook on ABC News and the reaction of several tech companies showing their support for Apple.

The Letter

Once it had been revealed that the FBI wanted Apple to make a “back door” to Farook’s phone, Apple handled this crisis well by releasing a letter to its customers explaining clearly why they didn’t plan on following the FBI’s order. The letter detailed how Apple are committed to protecting their customers’ data: “The contents of your iPhone are none of our business”.

The letter noted the wider issue of American democracy and the irony behind the FBI asking Apple to put its customers in danger. Despite FBI claims that this was one man and one iPhone, Apple refused to take this as a guarantee of limited government access. After all, what would happen if the FBI desperately needed this service again?

Apple compared the back door access to a “master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks”. The letter didn’t slate the FBI or question their desire to crack the case. Instead Apple confirmed that they are fully against terrorism and have worked to support the government as much as possible by following search warrants and going as far as providing Apple engineers, all stating that this is “within our power and within the law”.

The letter included links to a short Q&A to provide justification for their stance and was signed off by the CEO Tim Cook. Tim Cook remained visible throughout the crisis, which positioned Apple as a customer friendly company.

Tim Cook’s interview with ABC

In February 2016, Tim Cook gave an exclusive 30-minute interview to ABC News (watch the highlights here). Tim answered some difficult questions, including the fact that some families of those who died in the terrorist attack were urging Apple to crack the phone. He responded by saying that Apple have collaborated with the FBI and given them any information they requested. Throughout, he reiterated that more is at stake and that it doesn’t make sense for them to write software contradicting their own security advancements. A killer line from the interview is when Tim said the operating system would be the “software equivalent of cancer”. Tim assured the interviewer that if they had a way to get the information without putting hundreds of millions of customers at risk, they would obviously do it. Tim repeatedly said this was about more than one iPhone.

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Image: Tim Cook, CEO of Apple on ABC News, February 2016

As terrorism is a hot political issue, Tim was asked to respond to Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump suggesting that Apple should be boycotted until they help unlock the phone. He did this by supporting democracy and a right to protest, but also that the best thing to do is work on a solution. He uses the interviewer as a personal example of how a phone can hold a scary amount of data about a person including, health, finance and intimate conversations.

Steve Jobs, Tim’s much-loved predecessor was brought up in the interview as well. Tim handled this smoothly by stating that Steve Jobs loved American Democracy and would never put it at risk. Like the letter, Tim explained that it’s an uncomfortable position to oppose the government on something, where Apple is advocating the civil liberties that the government is meant to protect.

Support for Apple

At the same time, Tim wasn’t afraid to bring up the mistakes made by the Justice Department such as how they attempted reset Farook’s iCloud without contacting Apple and this ultimately meant the data couldn’t be accessed via iCloud – this was really crucial.

This event was not just a crisis about Apple and the FBI; it was about something much larger and can be referred to as Washington vs. Silicon Valley. It opened up the conversation of secure electronic communications and government access. During its handling of the crisis, Apple got support from well-known digital companies including Twitter, Facebook, Microsoft, Mozilla and Google showing that Apple’s outward facing approach was a success in this crisis.

Click here to find out what happened next.

My Favourite PR Blogs

This blog post will look at my favourite PR blogs and who I would recommend them to.

prcouture

Prcouture.com

This blog looks at public relations, marketing and social media in the fashion & lifestyle industry. It features a ‘DIY Public Relations’ section for useful tips for Fashion PR beginners, but some general advice is also available. For example a recent article was titled ‘5 body language tips for your next client presentation’, which can be helpful in any sector of PR. The site is easy to navigate and knows its target audience well. Although it is for Fashion PR and the readership is 88% female, there is no reason to be put off. The website displays a forward-thinking nature by embracing social media and selling merchandise to fund the website. I would say it’s a great model for aspiring PR practitioners who wish to increase their own social media presence.

lewis

Teamlewis.com

Lewis is a global communications agency that focuses on an integrated approach. With their clients based in the tech industry, it’s no surprise that they are able to report of issues within PR especially focused on tech. With articles like ‘Why robots won’t take over PR’ and ‘death of the newspaper’, they allow the audience to follow the traditional vs. tech debate. Features such as ‘this week in social’ also keep up to date with social media developments. I would recommend this blog for anyone interested in the progression of PR within the area of technology.

ronkeRonkelawal.com

Ronke Lawal is the founder of Ariatu PR, specialising in PR and brand management for clients in B2C industries; primarily fashion and luxury FMCG. Ariatu PR focuses in particular on African and Caribbean Diaspora so it’s interesting to see how PR can be aligned to better representation. The blog has some great tips for beginners and article titles such as ‘High Impact Tips That Every PR and Marketing Graduate Needs To Succeed’ suggest entry-level PR practitioners would benefit from a visit to the blog. There’s also an audience for entrepreneurs as she is running an event on how to get media coverage for you business.

prdaily

Prdaily.com

This blog is by Lawrence Ragan Communications, Inc. and works to deliver daily news, advice, and opinions on the public relations, marketing, social media, and media worlds. This blog has endless advice for anyone on PR, from entry-level to experienced. The section focusing on ‘writing and editing’ is particularly helpful for anyone looking to improve writing. Most articles are filled with multi-media so it’s easy to digest a story very quickly.

sarahstimson

Stimsonsarah.com

This blog is written by Sarah Stimson who also published a book titled ‘How to get a job in PR’, described as a ‘comprehensive guide to finding and keeping the job you want’. The blog contains a list of the 150 PR internships and graduate schemes so will narrow down that endless search for those looking to apply. It is very career focused and gives useful interview tips. I would recommend this blog for students or anyone looking to get an entry-level PR job.

imgres

6.A.M.

This blog is written by the CEO of Edelman, the world’s largest public relations firm, with 5,000 communications experts in 65 cities worldwide. CEO Richard Edelman started the blog in 2004 to share trends in communications, lessons and insights he gathers whilst managing the firm. He posts on the blog weekly and the content is truly one of a kind. From his thoughts on Brexit to his new fitness regime, he’s not afraid to give personal anecdotes. His entry on ‘The Stanford Swimmer’ Brock Turner showed his concern for the issue, especially as his daughter studies there. I would recommend this blog for anyone in PR writing their own blog. It’s a great example of how personal events link to the industry.

pyjamas

Prinyourpyjamas.com

This blog was started by Elena Verlee who has two decades of communications experience. The blog was started as a way for Elena to give back to the communications community, as well as to advise entrepreneurs, small businesses and non-profit organisations on ‘do-it-yourself PR’. The ‘New Here?’ section is great for those researching what PR actually is. I would recommend this blog especially for those doing PR for a personal project or a small business. It provides practical tips for setting up a successful PR campaign.

prconvo

Prconversations.com

The PR Conversations blog we know today was started by Toni Muzi Falconi in 2007 as an extension of his original blog from 2005. It now has 370+ posts from a variety of contributors. The three sections of ‘current, classic and seasoned’ make it easy to direct yourself around the blog. It aims to offer a platform for informed discussion and can do so because of the variety of voices of the contributors, from in-house executives to PR students. One of the most recent posts by Heather Yaxley titled ‘There’s no place for women at the top of the edifice’ looks at comments made by the chairman of Saatchi and Saatchi Kevin Roberts saying that the gender diversity debate is over. I would recommend this blog for any PR practitioner who wants to actively get involved discussion, as the blog encourages an ‘exchange of considered ideas’.

culpa

Kullin.net

Media Culpa is run by Hans Kullin, a digital PR strategist with 20 years’ experience. The blog is about media and PR, but has a specific focus on social media. This blog doesn’t follow any particular structure but touches on some unexplored stories within the PR industry such as the use of hashtags on the latest Instagram update. Posts aren’t released regularly, probably because Hans is the sole contributor. I would recommend this blog for anyone looking to use social media in PR.

prexamples

prexamples.com

This site isn’t aimed at any particular sector of the PR industry. It does exactly what the title says by providing great examples of PR and social media marketing. Although the author is based in the UK, the website seeks to give examples from around the world. As a multi-contributor blog, the author offers anyone the opportunity to submit an article on a campaign they find fascinating. The articles are short and straight to the point. Although this doesn’t offer a jobs section like PR Couture, it’s a good website when looking for inspiration or reminding yourself just how creative the PR industry can be. I would recommend this site for any PR professionals looking for ideas.