Churches, Cathedrals and Countless Options!

On a cold April afternoon, still reeling from the excitement of the second year field trip to Malawi, I officially began my dissertation research.

I visited Guildford Cathedral to meet with the Dean of the Cathedral (Dianna Gwilliams) and Director of Operations (Matt O’Grady) to discuss my dissertation. After a fascinating hour long meeting I had more options than my 10,000 word limit could cater for! Moreover the biggest challenge so far has been deciding on the focus.After much deliberation and assistance from my supervisor, a title was created:

“The ‘Mother Church’ and its parishes: relationships between the central Cathedral at Guildford and local congregations in an Anglican diocese of diverse worship.”

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The Commercial value of Culture… I have seen the light!

If you’re a ‘take things in your stride’, ‘cross that bridge when you come to it’ kind of person, then I have to admire you. Unfortunately (for my sanity), I am a Mystic Meg type whose brain never fails to leave me a little anxious after conjuring up yet another future life plan out of nowhere- some realistic and some not so much…hopefully lonely cat lady is one of the latter. Maybe I just need to take a chill pill. I prefer to think of it as ‘organised’ and ‘forward thinking’. Whatever the case, with an imminently approaching final year, the little crystal ball in my head has been hard at work turning my mind to post- graduation possibilities.

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Truth: Reflections

Today was the penultimate day of my dissertation placement at Truth Consulting and I have mixed emotions. I won’t miss the 6:30am trains and I sure won’t miss the rush hour fight for a space on the tube, but I’m definitely going to miss the incredibly hilarious and talented people I’ve been working with for the last two weeks. Ultimately I’ve learnt so, so much over such a short period of time and this is my attempt to summarise it. Enjoy!079ea69

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Optimising social media’s increasing popularity

Particularly amongst the younger generations, but increasingly within older generations, social media is becoming a more and more relevant part 0f our day to day lives. We tweet news stories, like other people’s activity, and follow the accounts of the ones we love. Social media is a way of communication, a way of being in the now no matter where you are in the world or what time it may be.

Academics within the field of Geography and Sociology speak of a shrinking world, whereby technological advancements, namely social media, result in larger or imagined communities, whereby relationships can span over a wider, seemingly unlimited space. It’s not uncommon for people to meet each other online, communicate with loved ones from thousands of miles away and even share pictures and videos in real-time; social media can no longer be thought of as a ‘new’ touchpoint. It enables powerful and compelling content to be engaged with by a diverse base of people, and brands need to take advantage of this.

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224,000 hours of stitching, 3 days of photographing

It’s coming to the end of my time here at Guildford Cathedral. Well, it’s not really – I’m just going on holiday to Mallorca and will be busy doing other things until the end of August (rather than looking at kneelers). I will almost definitely be back in September and it wouldn’t be surprising if I’m still around way after my dissertation is handed in.

Anyway, today was the day that I was set to finish photographing and documenting all 1460 of the cathedral’s kneelers. Or it should’ve been. Turns out there were actually 1600. I still finished, just the final remnants of novelty wore off as the count exceeded the expected.

Kneelers

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BREAKING NEWS: Geography doesn’t have to be about rivers

I’ve had a lot of interest in my project subsequent to my last blog post which has been great – unless you are all just being nice. I’ll take it as the former. With all this attention I was hoping to find a kneeler devoted to Europe for a chance to spontaneously pontificate my political views on the EU referendum. Fortunately for you no such kneeler has been found so instead of economics, bureaucracy and immigration, you will be lectured on culture, geography, and textiles.

On a serious note, don’t mess this up Britain (I’ll refrain from expressing my opinion to prevent this becoming a political debate). Continue reading

Me, Guildford Cathedral, kneelers and … a Hovercraft?

Seeing as I started my placement last Thursday, I’m a bit late with this first blog post, but all I would’ve had to talk about was how I have learnt the hard way why people who commute get grumpy. Nevertheless, any chance I get to wear a blazer and brogues I will grasp with both hands and now that I’m not driving a Corsa which is as old as I am, I genuinely feel like I’m ‘growing up’ a little bit.

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Guildford Cathedral.

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My Placement Linked Dissertation At Truth: An Integrated Customer Experience


As the summer draws to a close, preparations for my dissertation are entirely underway as well as my growing excitement to begin the placement at Truth.

TRUTH LOGOWHO?
Truth is a strategic insight consultancy and marketing agency that successfully illustrates and researches the link between cultures and marketing. The diverse nature of Truth promotes the marketing of consumers and clients to strive to ‘change things for the better’ through creative research practices.

WHY?

The experience of working within an agency of particular interest to me is something I am incredibly excited for and will allow me to understand the dynamics of successfully conducting research within a professional environment.

MY DISSERTATION

The area of study for my dissertation will focus on my interest in customer journey mapping, as I take forward the geographical literature of Ian Cook’s “Follow the Thing”. Customer journey mapping describes the experience and provoked emotional responses a customer has with particular organisations and brands from many different perspectives and time scales. Whilst “Follow the Thing” and the work of Ian Cook depicts a (dis)connection of producers and consumers and subsequently provides a touchstone to the interests of my dissertation within geographical literature. I will attempt to complicate and build upon this literature by centralising a focus on customer journey mapping using Burberry as my central case study.

The interior of Burberry's flagship store at 121 Regent Street, London

The interior of Burberry’s flagship store                                                                            121 Regent Street, London

“Burberry are no longer just a fashion company… today they are a thriving media enterprise” (Amed, 2011). It is for this reason I will attempt to conceptualise and analyse the history of this prestigious brand in addition to concentrating my focus on the integration of the digital and physical platforms present within the branding of Burberry.

THE FUTURE

I am very much looking forward to the 7th September to start my placement at Truth’s offices in Farringdon, London and look forward to updating you on my progress!!

The end of my placement

I finished my placement at Wildwood Trust about a month ago now, and I am still, more than ever, so grateful for this opportunity. I’ve loved it. Although I guess you’ve got to enjoy something a lot if you’re willing to take tubs of defrosting poo on two trains with commuters and school kids…

Throughout this experience, there have been high points and low points, but there’s always something to counteract the low points. The caramel hot chocolate has regularly been my cure and pick-me-up after two hours of sitting on a picnic blanket in the cold and sheltering under a large umbrella with all my research notes to protect them from the rain.

People (and animals) seem to have found my research interesting: when I’m preparing the hessian sacks, the yard cat is often very inquisitive; on some days people (both visitors and keepers) have come up and asked me what I’m doing – and have genuinely wanted to know about my dissertation, which has been lovely, everyone has a story or piece of information to share. On the cold, rainy weekdays however, sometimes the main company I have are the slugs (not a high point!). Those are the days that even Cara and Shria want to hide in their sleeping quarters.

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My company for my research.

This placement has taught me so much about these amazing creatures, and how much the public are fascinated by them. It’s wonderful to think that despite all the technology we have nowadays, and everything that can entertain us, we can all relate well to nature, regardless of age or background.

It’s no surprise we find the lynx so endearing. They are strong, and people are aware of this enough to know that they need to be respected as animals, which is so clear at certain times, such as when they’re feeding or leaping. But they are also cats, and sometimes their behaviour isn’t so unlike that of our pets.

This video shows one of the last repeats I carried out for my research, and I don’t know why they reacted in this way, maybe they were just in a playful mood, but whatever it was, it shows how similar all cats really are (this does not mean I recommend having a pet lynx).

One of the leading questions posed in the debate over rewilding is “can we cope with a wilder Britain?” and I’m starting to think that given enough time, yes, yes we could. We have lived amongst nature before, and, whilst there are exceptions, most people have respect for animals such as lynx, which surely is able to grow and improve over time.

2014 Summer Checklist

-2 weeks placement at Truth Marketing

– Plenty of dissertation reading

– Several hours of ground work for my dissertation (Still can’t believe I’m saying that word)

Check, check and CHECK.

As you can see this summer has been a pretty hectic one so apologies for such a massive gap between this and my last post! Since then I enjoyed an interesting and insightful stay at Truth, where I was taught how the company operates as well as how it plans and produces its excellent research for clients. During my placement I worked on several projects that gave me a taste of what a career in marketing is all about. A highlight for me was when I helped to conduct some interviews for one of Truth’s clients. As someone who can be a little on the shy side, finding the confidence to do interviews with people I have just walked up to was a significant landmark in the placement experience. Alas my time at Truth came to an end. Unfortunately I can’t share with you much of the detail for the projects I worked on, because one of the big buzz words in marketing and consultancy is client confidentiality, so shh! After finishing two weeks of 6 am wakeup calls, 9 til 5 working days and packed out rush hour trains, it was time for a nice break. Or not! Since then I have also been working steadily through the mountain of reading and research associated with my dissertation and I think it’s going pretty well. I have collected a lot of data through ethnographies (or to a non-researcher, observations of your surroundings) as well as interviews and small focus groups. I’ve got to say possibly the hardest thing about my research so far has been convincing myself that I really don’t need that new pair of shoes I spotted in the beautifully displayed shop window … in amongst the blooming flowers and bright, colourful décor that remind us all that summer’s here!

In all seriousness though, this research has made me much more aware of how subtly an environment can influence your buying habits. I’m now at the point of taking some of the helpful analysis hints I took from my time at Truth, as well as everything I’ve learnt over the past few years at uni, to help understand and analyse my data. I’m already seeing some interesting patterns in my results but that is best kept for another day!

If you are just dying to learn a little more on the fascinating link between culture and marketing as well as many other marketing aspects, why not take a look at the Truth blog (and definitely make sure you check out the work of Intern Danielle Finch on using street art as a form of marketing! I hear it’s a pretty good read! ) –

Keep your eyes peeled for my third and final blog post where I will be saying some more about what I found from my dissertation research! Speak to you soon!