Friday, 29 August 2014

Blogger & PR Collision

First of all, lets have a quick life update. And when I say life update I mean sit down and listen to how my life is utter chaos. I'm kinda working 3 jobs. Kennel life, PR life and my own blog which at the moment feels more like a job than a hobby PLUS trying to secure a full time job. I had a real crappy bank holiday as I worked ALL of it from Friday to Monday 9-6 and we were severely understaffed....I may have cried a few times....MOVING ON. I do apologise it has been 8 days since my last post and that sickens me. I hate to hurt you like this. Can you forgive me? 
So I have been given a wonderful opportunity to do a bit of blogger outreach for a PR company. I am really enjoying it as it is providing me with great insight into the digital PR world and I am learning lots. It has also opened my eyes to the PR to blogger side of blogging. Having only experienced the blogger to PR side with my own blog, if I am honest, I feel like I have been let in on a big dirty secret. Okay so it's not a dirty secret but that just sounds more dramatic. Anyways, it inspired me to write a post on advice for bloggers and PR/Marketers based on personal experiences. All in all, this shall confuse you and cause more mess than success ;)

When I started blogging I never ever ever ever (Getting back together! - Sorry had to drop a bit of Swift in there) thought I'd end up working with PR/Marketing agencies. I just started blogging in the metaphorical dark and stumbled into the light of PR eyes. Okay how lame was that sentence? So as per usual, I had no clue what I was doing and ungracefully bound head first in. Anyways, this is what I have learnt as a blogger working with PR:
  • Don't sell yourself short: In other words, don't just accept it because it's a freebie. I have turned down PR in the past because what they were asking I felt wasn't relevant to me or my blog. Just politely explain why you can't work with this campaign but offer to be happy to be contacted in the future for further campaigns.

  • Make yourself easy to contact: When looking for bloggers I love the ones who have a good structured contact page or have their email address on their home page. If you're easy to reach then you're more likely to be contacted. You don't have to advertise yourself as 'PR friendly' you just have to be there. Cause I'll be there for yoooooouuu....Can we please just turn this post into one big musical??

  • Location: Location is a tricky one. I myself try to avoid advertising where I am from based on old school safety, so this is an optional choice. To be invited to blogger events depends on how you publicize your location. If you're happy enough to declare you're from Essex or York or Cardiff etc etc then you'll stand a stronger chance of being pinned down by PR and a stronger chance of being stalked and buried under a patio by your biggest blogger fan (JUST KIDDING!!). I have been invited to events in London before but being a gazzilion miles away and the cost of transport I have had to turn the opportunity down. If anything I just feel bad for wasting peoples time. So it's up to you on location, I'd love to hear your thoughts for this one.

  • Do what you believe is best: At the end of the day it is YOUR blog. If you feel it is appropriate then do it regardless of what anyone else thinks. I have posted stuff on my blog before for PR where I gained nothing from it apart from writing the post. I believed in the cause and therefore wanted it on my blog.
  • Watch your back: I count myself lucky to have had little or next to none negative experiences when it comes to working with PR. However I have seen horror stories within the blogging community of how PR can turn nasty and things get unprofessional. Always be careful with what is exchanged and keep record of your emails when exchanging between companies.
  • Get things straight: Always establish what is required for the task in hand, what points should be covered and any other details such as how they would want it promoted e.g. specific Twitter accounts. I like to have a clear plan of how to tackle what is required and to make sure I do what the agency wanted. Some may say, I am extremely efficient....others....well they call me OCD.
  • Have fun: As lame as it sounds, enjoy it. Your blog and yourself has been recognized as a valuable platform for global campaigns, soak it all in and enjoy yourself! I have worked with some lovely PR agencies and have made some lovely contacts and even friends. I love collaborating, it's such a learning curve and great experience, make the most of it!

  • Know your market: This applies to all of those PR/Marketers who DO NOT read into their bloggers. Nothing is worse for a blogger than receiving a generic email saying 'Hi blogger, we want to advertise our brand so please write about us or post our info on your blog'. Are you serious? Do I have a sign on my head that says 'Open to free advertisement?!'. Also take basic note of who you are contacting such as what they blog about, maybe even read a couple of their most recent posts and address them by name! It shows you care about the blogger and not just the brand. Bloggers are people to!

  • Do as you're told: Not. Okay so it's great when a company wants to advertise on your blog however if they tell you how to write the post from a 'You should write this' perspective, back away. Always be true to your content. Obviously suggestions are great such as 'You could take this approach' but at the end of the day if you're reviewing a product you should give an honest answer and not write a post because you were told to. That is basically lying to your readers. How very dare you. 
So there we have it, a few random ass thoughts from my experiences as both a blogger and a blogger outreach assistant. I am always looking for advice in this area as sometimes I personally feel overwhelmed when my inbox is brimming with future collaborations so if you have any top tips, blog posts or thoughts in this area, please leave a link/comment :)! 

And on that bombshell I will leave you to feel confused with the chaos that is this post (Did you read that in Jeremy Clarksons voice because I so did?!). 


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Thursday, 21 August 2014

Saying Thanks With A Little Help From Cadbury

First of all, can we all just take a moment to be amazed at the fact I got to work with my all time favourite, Cadbury. Died. And. Gone. To Heaven.
Cadbury(The worlds greatest chocolate company) got in touch last week and presented me with a wonderful opportunity. As I had just graduated they offered me the chance to pick a gift from their Graduation Gift section on Cadbury Gift Direct and send it to whoever I felt had supported me the most at University. Obviously without a second thought I chose myself...JUST KIDDING...I chose my increcible parents. 
I have used Cadbury Gift Direct a couple of times before and I love how they have a gift for every occasion and how it's something so sweet and special. I chose the Champagne and 600g Milk Tray hamper for my parents. It included a bottle of Moet & Chandon Champagne and a maHOOsive Cadbury Milk Tray. As you can see in the photo above, the chocolate tray is so big it makes the champagne bottle look small! 


I chose to give my parents this gift as for me it is a starter gift for the many many many I hope to give them for the rest of my graduate life. I wouldn't have gone to university if it wasn't for them. They have supported me throughout my entire education and I couldn't thank them enough. I found it was my mum and dad that pushed me through high school and by the time it got to my A Levels I was doing all the pushing as I wanted to make them proud. When I found out I got into one of the UK's greatest universities I knew my parents couldn't be prouder. And I know with each year that I completed in my degree they grew prouder and prouder. Not just in my academic performance but my transformation into an independent and driven young girl (I was going to say woman but I just don't feel mature enough for that title yet ;D)

One of my favourite university memories was the day I found out I got a first in my dissertation which confirmed my overall 2.1 for my degree. My first thought was 'I can't WAIT to tell my parents' as I knew the news would make them so so so happy. 

I find universirty makes you realise how much you have taken your parents for granted your entire life. From the simple things like mums cooking to the experiences you have been given. I noticed a lot in the things I did at university spiraled out of me because of my parents. My passion for cooking a good meal came from my parents tasty Sunday roasts, my flair for pursuing popular culture and the study of music culture came from my parents love for classic 80s rock and roll and my drive to try all things new and to work hard came from my dad working so hard all of his life to give us the best experiences in life.

Since leaving university I have been looking for the perfect way to thank them. I want to show them how much I appreciate all the support they gave me. From paying for my rent to driving up and down the country every term to bring me/take me home, for all the things they bought me support me at university to being on the other end of the phone whenever I needed to hear a friendly family voice. There is no way I can think of repaying them. No way at all. This Cadbury gift, as I have already said, is a perfect starter gift for many more to come. They were so happy with it and as it is their 25th Anniversary next week, the champagne has come in good timing. I will let you in on a secret, yes my career goals are to make it big and to be successful but also to be able to buy my dad an Aston Martin with a Mulberry handbag on the passenger seat for my mum. Seriously, major career goal there. But don't tell them!!! 

So thank you to Cadbury for presenting me with this wonderful opportunity to show appreciation to my incredible parents and I want to dedicate this post to my parents for giving me the best life. 



Okay soppy post over now, you may continue with your day
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Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Logitech Collaboration || Turnaround iPad Air Case Review

Once again, I am teaming up with Logitech for a techy review. I am so thrilled as my love for Logitech is like my love for cake: It will never end! 

If you want to read my first review you can see it here

The lovely team over at Logitech sent me the Logitech Turnaround iPad Air Case
 
I count myself so lucky to be in the age where tablets exist. I swear I would have not been as productive in my degree if I hadn't had a tablet to complete reading and research on. As handy as it is to have a laptop, they are kind of a pain in the ass to drag everywhere, especially if you were a hard working student like me who went to the library every. single. day. (I miss my second home already)

So this is where the tablet comes in, being smaller and more convenient and with all the features of a laptop, it's like the superhero of technology. Those who own tablets...or any piece of hand device technology is fully aware that because the human race is one big low IQ of clumsy, we NEED cases. We're throwing our smartphones left, right and center these days. What I love about tablet cases, and this one in particular, is not only their design for protection but also design to meet our needs and serve as more than just case. 



 
The Turnaround iPad Air Case rotates to landscape and portrait position. You also have a choice of degree tilt on the screen based on your position. If you're like me you may be slobbing at your desk and having the tablet come to you instead of you leaning to the tablet is a MUCH better way of living ;) I have even caught my mum this week sat on the sofa with it propped up whilst she plays Candy Crush or some similar game. Who said professional cases had to be for professional uses?!




If you're using your tablet for academic study or for work research I definitely recommend a case that you can rotate to a portrait position. When I was doing course reading, having a tablet that I could prop up to portrait position was so convenient. I could have articles up on screen and quickly flick through whilst making notes. As I say, having a tablet totally saved my butt in my degree.


 
What I love about this case is the sleek and professional appeal. It closes up like a clutch and is easy to flip open and turn to whatever position you prefer. Also, the colour is fun as my camera makes it look like a maroon purple however in different lights it takes different shades. And if purple isn't your colour, it also comes in black! This case also has an on/off feature meaning it automatically wakes up your iPad when you open it and puts your iPad to sleep when you close it. If that ain't handy for the ultimate lazy button pusher I don't know what is ;) 

My only negative point I have to make about this case is the weight. It does make your iPad heavier however if you're using it as an alternative to dragging your laptop around then this isn't really an issue as it is lighter than that!

At £44.99 it is pricier however I am a firm believer in paying more for tablet cases. I bought a cheap one off eBay when I first got my Amazon Kindle Fire HD and it offered no secure protection and fell to bits soon after use. After that I forked out £35 for a better quality one from John Lewis. As tablets are convenient and taken pretty much everywhere it is important to have proper quality protection. And if you are one of those technology lobbing at concrete folk...I think this applies to you in particular ;) 

And there we have it, a swanky iPad Air case that sings, dances and writes your essays for you! Just kidding...
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Thursday, 14 August 2014

Unleash Your Meat Lust!

I now declare this my first ever food blog post. I am officially living the dream - someone wants me to blog about food. Stick a fork in me, I am done! 

The incredibly cool Flava-it got in touch last week to try out their new 'Meat Lust' marinades. Their #MeatLust campaign had me in giggles and dribbling for a burger at the same time so I couldn't wait to get involved. Me and meaty burgers are like me and cake - we just can't go without each other.



So Flava-it sent me 4 sample marinades: 'Barbecue', 'Ghost Chilli','Louisiana BBQ' and 'Buffalo' and a recipe to follow for the Barbecue Marinade. What I loved about the recipe is that it gives you two options. You can either slow cook the beef in the marinade or marinade it for 10 minutes and then flash fry it. Me being the most impatient person on the planet when it comes to cooking food went for the quickie version. This is perfect for those who come in from a long day at work or uni and want a quick and easy meal. BOOM Meat Lust is your answer. 


I got all my ingredients from Tesco super easy. I had difficulty finding 'Brioche buns'. Like, seriously, they had every form of Brioche from loaf to roll but no such bun. Not cool Tesco, not cool. So instead I picked a different kind of bun. 


So firstly I marinated the steak for 10 minutes. What amazed me is that you could actually see the steak responding to the marinade and absorbing it in. I expected the marinade to just sit on top like most packet mixes but it actually faded into the meat. Like science init ;) 


Once the streak was marinated I heated some oil in a frying pan and lobbed the steak in. Whilst that was cooking I quickly toasted the buns and prepared the fresh ingredients. If I am honest I actually burnt the buns. Okay okay okay I know you're thinking 'How did you manage that? That's like the easiest bit?!' Well this is me, it would be disappointing if I hadn't burnt anything and I just didn't want to let you down like that.



Once the buns were...erm...'cooked'....I piled on the mayonnaise and tomato. Once the steak was cooked (I DIDN'T BURN THAT BIT! I SWEAR!) I shredded it on a plate...well when I say 'shred' I tugged, gave up and sliced instead. 

Next I piled on the red onion and watercress....all with my little brother in the background demanding I didn't put watercress on his. To which I ignored and told him he had to deal with it for blog photo purposes. 
Can you guess which is my little brothers due to bare minimum greenery?!
And viola! Three tasty Barbecue shredded beef buns at the ready! That was when the real Meat Lust kicked in. My mouth is dribbling on my keyboard as I look back in time at the meaty love affair held over the table last night. In fact, it was that good my mum scrapped the dinner she wanted to give my dad when he got home from work late and insisted I made another batch for his dinner! 



I am so impressed with the incredible juicy taste and ease of these marinade packets that I am dying to try out the other 3. 

You can check Meat Lust out at their site www.meatlust.com where they provide you with the opportunity to request a free sample as well as directing you to the nearest store you can purchase these from.

And I now declare the first official food based blog post of The Confessions Of A Professional Drama Queen closed. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did ;)
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Wednesday, 13 August 2014

The Frustrated Ramblings Of A Drama Queen: Part 4

Iya honeyz, I'm home! Did you miss me??? Don't lie, I know you cried every waking hour until I returned.
I am home from my mini break to London! Feeling newly refreshed and inspired I thought I'd strike whilst the iron's hot (Seriously what the hell is that saying about?!). I am back in work tomorrow and the next 2 weeks are the busiest of the year so no doubt my blogging mojo will be chewed to bits and I will be incapable of stringing a sentence together. Therefore I need to whack out this post today before the work demons get me. Did I mention I really enjoyed my summer job? Not.
I thought what better way to spend my slobby Sunday then doing part 4 of the ever so popular Frustrated Ramblings Of A Drama Queen series. You can catch up on them here (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3). So lets get this party kick started! *Ain't no party like a ramblings blogging party!*

Airport Security

I had to fly back from London as the trains were all messed up (what's new there, snaps to you British public transport!). Now I understand that with our past history plane security needs to be pretty tight, especially with all the awful things that have happened with flights these past 6 months. However it is starting to feel a little outta hand. They recently introduced the 'your technology must be charged to be able to board the flight with it' rule. I mean, I get it but...have they ever owned an iPhone?! 
Anyways, as I went through the full body scanner I set the alarm off. Thinking I'd get a standard pat down I went willingly over the angry looking security guard. To my horror, she not only 'patted' me down, she groped my boobs AND had to stick her hands down trousers. SO yeah, I may not have a boyfriend but at least someone else is getting good use of my Beyonce bod..... I can't believe I just wrote that...

Frozen

Dare I say it, can we get over that crap now?! I feel like the only person on the planet who doesn't think Frozen is the greatest thing since sliced bread. The story line had endless flaws, it never actually went anywhere and...the music really isn't that great. They say it's the biggest selling Disney film since The Lion King and in fact, out ranked the Lion King. What?! Just because billions of people went to see it doesn't mean they actually liked it so can we stop comparing it to Disney's greatest accomplishment that is The Lion King. Let it go.... Sorry couldn't resist...

Planet Earth
Getcha crap together guys. I feel like we are really on the brink of world war 3 and it is rather scary. With Russia turning into what sounds like Nazi Germany, North Korea well...just being North Korea, Gaza turning into hell and planes dropping from the sky left right and center, I really feel we all need to sit down and talk.
During my stay in London I saw the new installation of the 'Blood swept lands and the sea of red' at the Tower of London marking the 100th anniversary of Britain heading to war. It really is breathtaking and puts so much into perspective. Our planet is full of scars of our brutal histories and they remain constant reminders of the tragedies of the past. So why the hell are we not learning from our mistakes and trying to bomb the life out of each other?! As you may have guessed I don't fully follow politics and I sometimes think it's for the best as I am sick of hearing the world falling to pieces. Planet earth getcha crap together and get over your issues. You'd think the world was PMS'ing!!

I'm still Unemployed

Are we all sick of hearing about it because I sure am. I have 2 weeks left at my summer job. You have no idea how terrifying that is knowing you only have 2 weeks left of a job and nothing in the future. I may or may not be freaking out more and more each day. As much as I have enjoyed no bra jail weekdays, I think it's time to put the ladies away and get working. Hire me?! 

Crappy Customers

If you have ever worked in a position that deals with customers face to face that you will be aware of the monstrosities they can become. Yesterday a couple came to work to pick up their cat. We charge kennel space by day, not night. So this couple were pretty annoyed when they thought it was charged by night. This is not my fault at all, they should have asked before booking and read the terms and conditions (Always read the terms and conditions people!!!). So as a response the husband of the couple decided to scream in my face for a good five minutes. It got to the point where I just walked away. I nearly said 'Do you feel like a big man when you shout at young girls like that?!' Don't sass me man, I WILL hold your cat hostage.

 Anyways, after getting their cats for them they rudely walked off (without a thank you may I add) and shouted they were never coming back. I said good because if they tried, we'd lie and say we were fully booked. ASS-HOOOOLE. If you have EVER been rude to a sales assistant, waitress, kennel assistant etc etc because you think it's okay to talk down to someone at their job, please find a cliff edge and keep on walking. 

And that concludes this weeks frustrated ramblings of a drama queen and humpday confession! Enjoy ;)
Vodka and Soda
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Sunday, 10 August 2014

Life After Uni: Expectation Vs Reality

So you graduated from uni and thought you would be living the high life. Well didn't you think wrong. 

My posts on life as an unemployed graduate have been surprisingly extremely popular. You can check them out here and here.
 I have had so many wonderful comments from others in my situation and have inspired blog posts. I am thrilled with the outcome so I thought I could treat you to another one. Enjoy!



Career
Expectation: You'll be earning a nice starter salary at a fancy modern company in the heart of the city. You'll be strutting down the business lane with a swanky leather work bag in one hand and a Starbucks in the other... kindla like Beyonce. Move over Alan Sugar, you've just arrived!


Reality: You're working minimum wage at a part time job whilst spending your days off sending thousands of job applications and hearing absolutely nothing back. Living the dream....not


Holiday
Expectation: Finally you can go away to anywhere you want with all this new found adult freedom. Why not head over to Barcelona for a city break or even venture over to Thailand for a couple of weeks 'traveling'. You may even have some form of summer holiday romance...just like in The Notebook!


Reality: You're unemployed/on minimum wage and even a wet weekend in Wales is pushing it



Style
Expectation: You're an adult in the adult world now so it's time to look like one. Why not hit H&M, Mango, Warehouse etc and buy yourself some swanky adult clothes. Don't forget that posh interview dress you need! And with that, why not treat yourself to a new designer handbag, I mean you really have to look the part.


Reality: You have no money for clothes and even £12 on a dress in Primark feels extortionate. I guess it's recycling all those old student clothes for the time being. I wonder if I could get away with wearing a cocktail dress to a job interview?!



Social Life
Expectation: With your new adult life it's all about cocktail bars and fine dining. You'll probably be spending Friday night after work in local quirky bars where they serve cocktails out of tea cups with your new work friends. They might as well be calling you Carrie Bradshaw.



Reality: You live a million miles away from your uni friends and all your home friends are moving to London or are yet to complete uni. Plus socializing with home friends means spending money you really really really don't have. Looks like it's time for some quality time on the sofa with your parents!
Obviously I had to get my fave GIF in here


Living
Expectation: You were aware you'd have to move back home and lose all that freedom but it will only be for a little while. You'll get a well paid job and move to a quirky flat in the city with your best friend. You can decorate it with all sorts of lovely new items that are far far away from that student style you dwelled in for the 3 years! Oh and just think of that closet space!


Reality: You'll be living with your parents until you're 30 at this rate.



And there we have it. My graduate reality. 
If you enjoyed this post and can relate to it, feel free to share it with all of your other unemployed graduate friends. Remember, we're all in this together! 


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Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Life.

I have a confession......like I am so guilty. So I've been working a lot over the past week and my work day starts with my getting up at 5:45am and dying. I am like the true definition of the walking dead right now. I make the zombies in zombie movies look like fluffly bunnies....

SO I am tired and things in life right now aren't all woooo and exciting and basically the motherfudging fiarytale Disney conned me into thinking it would be. Sodding Disney. All in all this had me in a poopy mood and I got into thinking and we all know me thinking isn't the safest bet, so I thought some and then some more and decided to quit blogging for a while. I wrote this big blog post on how sorry I was and I was tired and I was all I WILL BE BACK ONE DAY SOON. I was all set to press publish at 4pm but before I did I was so tired I decided to nap. THANK THE NAPPING LORD I DID. I woke up like 'Laura, getcho motherfudging ass out of this bed and get your blogging mojo all up in your blogging grill'. So there is my confession: I nearly quit. IMMA SORRY. I don't want to quit. I am just so tired and finding it hard to be my usual batshit crazy self.

This post is just life. Life recently from my instagram account. Kinda like a filler until I get my butt in gear some more. I am off to London for a couple of days tomorrow which will hopefully refresh me! 

I bought this sweet little notebook last week from Tesco. I love fun and quirky stationary and I just had to have this. Everyone who knows me knows I am 100% dog mad. Especially during the summer when I work at the kennels. Dog's are 80% of my conversation. I actually bought this for job interviews....yep judge me. They always say you should show your true personality and well, I thought I should give future employers a heads up on my mentality ;) 


Earlier this week I posted my collaboration with Logitech. I absolutely love these products they sent me. The little Bluetooth audio adapter is incredible. In fact, I am writing this blog post in my bed with my laptop and my iPod synced up to my old stereo system right now. It's amazing how easy I can change a song without moving from my current position. If you want to know more you can read my review here.

Last week I got a brand new iPhone AND I went shopping and bought an interview outfit as seen above. It was so difficult as I wanted something so different then a dull grey dress or black suit. I think women have so much creativity with their wardrobe that I wanted to take advantage of this for inteerviews. So I went for this gorgeous fitted dress from Oasis and pastel pink blazer from Tesco Clothing. 

My iphone is the Apple 5C. I got an incredible offer where I am paying less then I was for my old iPhone 4. All because I suggested I would be taking my business else where. Funny that ;)

On my shopping trip me and my mum went to Giraffe. I love that they serve their fresh lemonade in mason jars. I predict a lot of supermarkets and homeware stores leaping on the mason jar bandwagon very soon. Me and my mum are after some for cocktail glasses/lemonade glasses. If you see any cheap ones anywhere let me know! It's amazing how the power of Pinterest and all that mason jar DIY craft pinning has influenced global chains.



And lastly, this was an earlier attempt at blogging with a beer to which I gave up on both the blog and the beer and went to bed. Today I learnt a valuable lesson. Never make huge decisions when you're at a low. It's amazing how a short afternoon nap has completely transformed my attitude. 

If you ever have faced difficulties blogging, do let me know. I would love to hear your stories and how you coped.

Also if you'd like to keep up to date with me more often do follow my instagram :)

http://instagram.com/laurabelsh13


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