Rocky Balboa and Irish Water

November 23, 2014

Rocky Balboa making a comeback

We were up against the ropes after taking a fierce pummelling.

It felt like there was no mercy as blow after blow landed and we were dizzy, weak and confused, nearly ready to give up and the heavy punches kept landing. Please stop ..

USC tax, narrowing of tax bands, disposable income crumbling, banks seizing up on lending and pressurising without mercy, NAMA just as merciless and then we had the property tax. Our trusted charities seemed to be an incredible gravy train with political appointments and despicable salaries with zero accountability.

Just as a glimmer of sunshine started to appear out through our swollen eyes a Kango hammer was digging outside our doors installing meters to measure how much water we were using so we could be charged at whatever rate they decided – no one knew.

This was very different, this was outside my front door and all of a sudden you touched a raw nerve. The installer cut up the footpath and never repaired it and when we called him he was very very smart saying it was always like that and he could prove it because he had a picture from Google Earth ..I’ll give him Google Earth where the sun doesn’t shine!

If there was a leak they would fix it but after that it was my problem, if we didn’t pay our water would be restricted to a trickle, if we didn’t register there would be fines, no one knew how much the water would cost but we did know there were bonuses for staff (for what?!!), they wanted our PPS numbers and the bunch running the fiasco called Irish Water were made up largely of political and very unsuitable and incompetent appointees.

Blow after blow each punch hammered us.

Rocky

They crunched down hard on that raw nerve without mercy and we could feel that anger rising. Even though we were totally exhausted, beaten to a pulp, eyes nearly shut and ready to fall down an inner strength rose from deep inside us and we managed to stand up and lift our tired arms and throw a punch.

To our surprise it connected …bang.

All of a sudden he was not so solid on his feet and we felt some of his superiority and power draining from him and shifting into our arms and legs… we were not beaten.

We thew another punch and another and each of them landed…bang, smack and he was suddenly reeling, dizzy against the ropes.

Will we show him the same degree of mercy that he showed us? Bang ..didn’t think so.

The government are now reeling after the fiasco of Irish Water, taking blow after blow. The rules of the game are changing by the day; the charges are being reduced, we won’t have to give PPS numbers, no one’s water will be reduced to a trickle and anyone who can’t afford it will not be pursued and then we have the apologies..

“I didn’t mean that” “That was a mistake” “We handled it badly”.

Up against the ropes and waiting for the knockout blow the government is trying everything to escape the wave of punches but they keep coming despite all attempts to call an end to this brutal fight.

When we were up against the ropes there was very little mercy and those painful lessons aren’t easily forgotten. So before you start to recover and find your feet again …BANG.

These water protests won’t stop anytime soon regardless of what changes are made.

The activists know they have the government on the ropes and they won’t let up.

While its easy for us to join in as we have all felt those heavy blows, its really important that we are sure who these activists are and make sure that we don’t get a new fighter in the ring who is bigger, uglier, meaner and even more merciless than the one we feel we are fighting right now.

Is it time to step out of the ring? 

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork

 

The Power of Compliments

November 21, 2014

Compliments

I was checking my emails just now and I came across a fantastic message from a contact I have on LinkedIn, which cheered me up no end.

The very lovely and very generous Valerie (Ryder) O’Hanlon had picked up on the changes I had made to my LinkedIn profile and left me a message that put a huge skip in my step.

Thank You

Not only did she pay me a compliment, which is always great to receive but she also grabbed my attention by being nice, generous and friendly – in a sweep Valerie has moved to the top of my ‘nice people to deal with online‘ league table!

If we ever have a requirement in the HR Consultancy sector we know who to go to.

Paying a compliment is a really easy thing to do but it can also be  incredible powerful.

If you see something you like, think someone has done something worthwhile, noticed they have just got a promotion then take those 30 seconds to say well done!

Try it ..if you have a compliment to give, don’t hold back

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion are a Marketing, PR and Graphic Design agency in Ireland with offices in Cork and Dublin

 

 

 

Hiding your story

November 20, 2014

Sharing your story

We were having this big battle with a client about our approach to generating press coverage for her new business.

She has a fabulous new product, with some really unique features, which she has developed herself.

While the product is really good it will compete in a world of so many other products waiting for people to notice it, trust it, buy it, use it and then having the confidence to recommend it to others.

Something that makes this product really credible and special is our clients’ personal story. Her profession for nearly 20 years and the experiences she had in that time all led her to noticing a huge gap in the market and developing a product that would fill this gap perfectly.

When prospective customers consider the product on the shelf it will be considered on its merits as they see it. If they like what they see and are convinced by the features and benefits as conveyed on the packaging they might buy it.

We believe that when prospective customers hear her story (if we ever get the chance to tell it!) and understand the experience and expertise that went behind developing the product we feel they will trust it more making that purchase decision easier.

Our dilemma with our client is that she is insisting that we don’t talk about her. She feels no one will be interested and the product is good enough to stand on it’s own merits. This personal reluctance issue is one we come up against a lot and to maximise your PR you just have to get over it.

I gave her my ‘support beam‘ speech and went to great lengths to stress that we wanted the campaign to be a maximum success and the best way of achieving this was to put our best foot forward, which did most definitely include her personal story.

It’s a battle we haven’t quite given up on yet..

Will telling your story make a difference to your business?

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion are a Marketing, PR and Graphic Design agency in Ireland with offices in Cork and Dublin

The “Vote for us” Awards

November 17, 2014

And the winner is

Should you enter your business for an industry award?

I received a “Vote for Us” on-line request by a really nice individual  from an organisation that we deal with regularly.

Their B2B initiative had been submitted for some European award and the mechanic for choosing the winner was the quantity of votes by the public.

A lot of competitions and award initiatives are now being operated in this way. In the last few months alone my email has been clogged with numerous requests to vote for different initiatives on-line.

With this particular initiative there was an extra twist to the voting as you can see explained below:

“Each person can cast ONE VOTE EVERY DAY (one per 24 hours) and it just takes a couple of seconds. We would be very grateful if you could VOTE for our initiative each day and/or on the various devices that you work on i.e. smart phone, PC, iPad, laptop etc. And it is legitimate to vote on each of the different browsers daily too, i.e. google chrome, internet explorer, safari, firefox etc.”

A major step too far – Not only was my vote requested but there was a further request to vote every single day on as many devices and browsers as possible!

With this particular initiative I received a number of emails, a number of times from various individuals in the organisation all asking me to vote.

Jesus …. what is after happening to the business world whereby “awards” are being decided by such meaningless criteria.

In this case the award will ultimately go to the team who have expended the maximum energy in chasing the widest possible network of contacts – I doubt this process has any chance of finding a deserving winner.

The winner will be the organisation that have wasted a fortune of time lobbying for votes as well as the time wasted by those who did the voting.

To make matters worse the winner and the other contestants who took the challenge of winning seriously will have run the danger of damaging their own brand as a result of so much lobbying (and quite frankly annoying people). If they don’t lobby (annoy) they won’t win – simple!

Very few people will take the awards seriously once they realise how the winners were chosen, in particular those who did the voting.

I don’t for one second blame the organisation who contacted me – The fault lies with those running and setting the rules for these competitions.

Anyone who is operating an awards initiative should protect the integrity of the competition ensuring that the awards go to the worthy winners.

Winning an award is great for any organisation and in Fuzion we encourage all of our clients to enter credible competitions, which will demonstrate that they are best in class.

If the winning of an award is meaningless then don’t even bother entering.

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion are a Marketing, PR and Design agency in Ireland with offices in Cork and Dublin.

Gender Quotas or real change?

November 17, 2014

Working mother with child on couch

It drives me nuts whenever I hear it mentioned ..

New legislation in Ireland means political parties are required to ensure at least 30 per cent of their candidates in the 2016 General Election are women; any party that fails to reach the target will have its State funding cut by 50 per cent. 

Parties will also be required to have 40 per cent or more female candidates after a further seven years.

My first thought is how is this ‘rigging’ possible in a modern society where we all enjoy equal opportunities and there are no real ‘blocks’ to men or women achieving what they want?

We hear about the ‘old boy’s club‘ in politics – when you probe this it is more about dynasties of political power that will keep me on the outside just as it would any woman that I know. However if I want to run I can just the same as any woman can.

The solution to the “problem” of the numerical gender imbalance is to ‘rig’ the situation by forcing female candidates in and male candidates out until the magic numbers are achieved.

Are you there on merit?  In a rigged situation you will just never know, which for me will do a huge disservice to every woman in politics.

And then we have the boardroom..

The European Commission pushed a proposal forward in November 2012. At its heart lies a requirement for 40% female representation among non-executive directors in publicly listed companies by 2020. 

Once again the solution to the “problem” of the numerical gender imbalance is to ‘rig’ the situation by forcing females in and males out until the magic numbers are achieved.

Are you there on merit?  Again, a huge disservice to every woman in business.

Are we really serious about gender equality?

I believe if we really want to achieve this gender equality then we need to radically alter our social structures and change how we look at the roles of men and women in society.

This starts with the issue of parenthood, which seems to be the key moment that derails careers for many women.

If we are equal there must be no difference between a man and a woman when little Johnny has a fever. It must be as normal for the father to run home to look after him as it is for the mother.

If we are equal there must be no difference between a man and a woman when it comes to leave after a baby is born (other than the natural time a woman needs for physically preparing and recovering from birth).

When an employee announces they are having a baby the scenario and the disruption to the careers of the person and to the workplace should within reason be the same for both the man and the woman.

Father with baby

If this happens employers will be less concerned about disruption due to maternity leave with female team members, which is always a huge challenge for both the woman and the employer with the men blissfully pushing on with their careers uninterrupted.

For example Denmark make some attempt at equality here. Parental leave is a whopping 52 weeks in total with the woman taking 18 weeks, the man 2 weeks and both sharing the remaining 32 weeks as they wish.

Can you imagine a man announcing to his boss that “we are having a baby so I will be taking 6 months paternity leave as my wife has chosen to get back to work as soon as possible“? ….congratulations!

The Huffington Post covered this topic recently: In the Nordic countries they have made it possible for parents to combine work and family, resulting in more women in the workplace, more shared participation in childcare, more equitable distribution of labour at home, better work-life balance for both women and men and, in some cases, a boost to waning fertility rates.

Policies in these countries include mandatory paternal leave in combination with maternity leave, generous, state-mandated parental leave benefits provided by a combination of social insurance funds and employers, tax incentives and post-maternity re-entry programmes. Together, these policies have lowered the opportunity costs of having children and led to relatively higher and rising birth rates, as compared to other ageing, developed economies.

As long as having a baby can disrupt the career and workplace of the woman and have virtually no effect on the man and as long as the woman is always seen as the main child carer then we will always struggle to achieve true equality.

If we are really serious about gender equality we need to fundamentally change how our society operates and forget about unfair, risky and potentially damaging  ‘rigging’ tactics when the dye has already been cast and it is just too late. 

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork

 

 

 

 

Tidy Towns and Broken Trees

November 17, 2014

Tidy Towns Ballincollig

We were on our normal Sunday morning stroll with our friends Tommy and Joan and the two four legged ones, Bing and Tammy and as usual we saw the fantastic team of volunteers from the Ballincollig Tidy Towns hard at work.

What would motivate you to get up on a Sunday morning and pick up other people’s rubbish and want to make your town tidier and prettier?

Incredible ..

Broken trees - Ballincollig

We continue our walk through the village and we come upon a long row of trees that had been planted along the pathway of a busy road and each of them had been vandalised.

What would motivate you to put the effort into breaking beautiful trees that have been planted to make your town look tidier and prettier?

Incredible..

What makes these people so different?

A huge thank you to the Ballincolllig Tidy Towns Committee for the incredible work that they have been doing for years and as for the others ..

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork

Fire the secretary

November 9, 2014

The FiringI used hate dealing with my boss. From the very first minute I worked there we never gelled and I couldn’t stand it.

Every time I drove into the car park and I saw his car there I would get a pain in my stomach.

I was the financial controller of this sizeable operation and while it was a great role for my career CV it was tough going at times.

The culture was very strange as the MD used have moles everywhere running to him with selective tales about what was going on. I’m not sure if he realised it at the time but many of the cute ones used this opportunity to manipulate things for their benefit – it created a really awful atmosphere for everyone.

His secretary was the worst of all as she ran to him with everything, even things that she overheard incorrectly. Before you knew it people were being hauled into his office to answer for things that had never happened. As a result this young girl who was totally manipulated was despised in the place.

I was summoned to his office ..what’s up now??

I’m no longer happy with my secretary and I want you to get rid of her. My wife will come in and replace her for a while” I was told.

I questioned what she had done that was so wrong as I felt this was a basic piece of information that was needed before we could do anything.

Just get rid of her” I was told.

The culture at the time was very ‘macho’ – if you were a real manager and had “balls” you should be able to do things like that in your stride.

I was in the horrors. How could I do such a thing without any justification? I just couldn’t.

I never fired her and thankfully some other opportunity popped up in the organisation that she was interested in soon after that – phew!

Thankfully those ‘macho’ management bullying days are a thing of the past ….aren’t they?

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork

 

 

Cynical won’t do a job for me today

November 4, 2014

Cynical

A few things happened yesterday that left me going to bed feeling quite tired and cynical.

I woke up this morning with that same feeling.

Cynical isn’t going to do a job for me today or any day for that matter so I need to make a choice.

Cynical ..forget it

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork

The Dig Deepers

October 31, 2014

Digging Deep

Everyday when you rock up for work you make a choice about who you are – could you be a dig deeper?

To not treat work as just a job
To go above and beyond what is expected by your clients
To look out for the other guys in the team and help them out when they need it
To not worry about the clock when there is more to do
To think and watch out for your clients 24/7
To bring your clients something unexpected because you were watching out for them 24/7
To take responsibility for your clients as if it were your own business
To learn as much about your clients industries, issues and challenges as possible
To be a true partner with each of your clients
To be the one that is called by your clients when they need support at any time
To be an invaluable part of your clients team

When you dig deep career success follows..

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork

Are you ready for the Upswing?

October 29, 2014

Bursting through the clouds

Our landlord is selling our building on Fitzwilliam Street and all tenants are required to vacate the building before the end of November. I can’t believe this is happening and that we are back in the horrible loop of looking for another office, just months after moving in.

As soon as this news was delivered I immediately took off on foot around the D2 area to take down the phone numbers of the many offices that had ‘To Let’ signs outside them.

My first surprise was that many of these signs now had “Let by” on them and not ‘To Let’. I quickly got on the phone and started chasing the estate agents for the details of the remaining ones that I thought might be suitable.

I’m sorry, that is actually let now” …”Apologies, that premises is no longer available” … “The premises you are enquiring about is only available for six months as the building is being sold

There was a trend to my many phone calls and I was starting to panic a little about the future home of Greg and his band of merry men and women!

I pressed one of the friendlier estate agents as to what was going on. “The whole thing is after taking off” he explained. “If you find anything that is half way right in this area just grab it, no messing” he advised.

Thankfully after too many phone calls we have found a gorgeous office space overlooking the canal at 13 Warrington Place but even with this we had to make up our minds immediately as we were competing with someone else who wanted the space.

Judging from this experience, the talk by Aidan Gavin of Sherry Fitzgerald at Dublin Chamber recently, the Cork Chamber event with the Business Post and the recent positive economic indicators it looks like the lights are well and truly back on and we are in a definite ‘upswing’.

The big question is are you ready?

More business will be done, people will want to move quicker than before, decisions will be made faster and you must make sure you are in the mix to grab the opportunities.

I’ve put together some simple Marketing & PR tips to help you on the way, so you and your business can make the most of these opportunities.

Positive Intent – before I go into all of the practical stuff it is vital that you have positive intent on your side. Let your team know what is coming down the track and what you expect of them – they may need to work harder and faster to cope with the extra opportunities that will arrive, This will be good for everyone as long as the business can cope with the extra workload.

Those tips:

  1. Looking the part– Before you start any campaign have a good look in the mirror and decide are you ready. Do your branding, signage, website and other tangible visible elements properly reflect the essence and quality of your business, products and services? Right now take a glance at your business card! It may be time to refresh your branding and put your best foot forward.
  2. Get in the game on-line by being found– Will prospective customers who are already looking for your products or services find their way to your website? Make sure your website is found easily by anyone who may be searching for the services you offer. You may need to optimise your website or start a Google Adwords campaign if this is not the case.
  3. On-line Communication– If you decide to communicate to all your customers, previous prospects and other contacts right now could you do it? Consider adding an email newsletter service to your communications routine and let your database know of changes to the business, new products, new services, awards and other news on a regular basis. This is easily set up and new contacts can be added to your database directly from your website.
  4. Social Media– Even at this advanced stage most businesses have not got to grips with social media. If your business is not using these platforms to drive awareness and promote what you are doing on a daily basis then it is time to get in gear.
  5. Good stories– One of our mottos at Fuzion with our clients is to ‘Never waste a Good Story’. If there is good news happening in your business, if there are interesting developments, if there are new products or changes that should be publicised then drive awareness with a strong PR Plan.
  6. Advertising & Promotions– If you have pulled back on activity in this area then maybe it’s time to reconsider. There is terrific value to be had if you do this in a planned way, securing great prices and also negotiating editorial coverage. There is a strong chance that your competitors have cut back on their activity – is it time to steal a march on them?
  7. Plan– Carefully map out all of your Marketing & PR activity including your budgets for the year and share this with your team. Try to ensure that there is a constant stream of activity throughout the year so that your business is always visible with your target audience.
  8. Measure– Track the success of your activities, giving each of them a proper chance to seed so that you can properly assess their effectiveness. Flex your plan where necessary.
  9. Be Ready – My last tip is to be ready for when those enquiries come in and grab those opportunities as they come along – they will!

If you are in Dublin pop in to say “Hi” to us at our new offices at 13 Warrington Place, Dublin 2, which runs alongside the canal just off Baggot Street.

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork


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