Profit without Passion?

April 12, 2015

Passion

These two guys came into us, full of confidence about their new project.

They were introducing a new range of ready made meals to the Irish market, which they reckoned were going to be a huge success.

The market in Ireland was huge and growing and according to them poorly serviced with inferior products. They were going to bring restaurant quality meals with recipes designed by a high profile chef using the best of Irish ingredients.

These meals were going to be well packaged and would be ‘on shelf‘ at competitive products – this was their recipe for success!

By their reckoning they would conservatively capture a share of the market and even with moderate success they would make a fortune, it was guaranteed.

They had the listings with some of the multiples and our job was to launch the new range of products. They also had a good budget for the promotional campaign – success guaranteed?

I had a few nagging doubts ..

These guys had no history in food or experience in the industry. They had no passion for food – I tried and I tried to find it. I couldn’t see a genuine love for Irish ingredients and great food – this was just a way of making money and they reckoned they had all the necessary ingredients for success.

The high profile chef was equally unimpressive – I started to get the feeling that his ‘name was on the box‘ and that was about the extent of his passion for the project.

Of course he did the interviews and said all the right things but I just didn’t feel the passion for the project.

The launch date arrived, there seemed to be trouble with distribution, the products didn’t look well in the packaging and there was nothing special about the taste. It certainly wasn’t the superior restaurant quality ready-made meals that we were promised.

In no time at all the partners were fighting and the chef pulled back from the project. Effectively before the whole project got going they shut it down and many people including ourselves went without payment.

If there was genuine passion you would taste it in the end product, you would work hard to overcome any problems and you would dig deep and do everything to keep your dream alive.

Without passion you just give up ….that’s easier!

Passion is the single must important ingredient in your meal, your restaurant, your products, your service and your organisation.

Profit without passion? … I don’t think so 

Greg Canty 

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

 

Crushing young dreams 

April 12, 2015

Tears

My daughter Ellen has had a run of bad luck, which eventually seemed to be turning.

As she comes to the end of her beauty therapy course she was determined to find a job.

I’ve been offered a job dad” she told me excitedly down the phone. I was thrilled for her, she deserved a break and I could hear the difference that confidence boost had made to her.

The following day it got even better “you won’t believe it dad, I’ve been offered another job” she beamed.

Two days later she called again “Dad, guess what? I’ve been offered a job in a salon and the lady is lovely and it’s exactly what I want, This is the job I’m going to take”.

Three job offers in as many days and my fantastic daughter was transformed – she was now a confident woman with a real spring in her step. She accepted the full time job offer and was due to start the following Monday.

She was then called for an interview to a beauty salon that came highly recommended by her course director on the Saturday.

On the spot she was offered a job by the salon owner despite Ellen’s lack of experience. Ellen explained to her that this would be a big decision as she had already been offered a full time job.

She rang me “you won’t believe it dad – I’ve been offered another job, I can’t believe it! What will I do?

On the recommendation of her course director she accepted this offer and turned down the previous offer. To her credit she wrote a very professional email to the other salon, explaining the reason why she would not be taking their job offer after all.

Unfortunately the next call was Ellen sobbing on the phone. The salon owner that she had accepted the job from had a change of heart and suddenly her lack of experience was an issue and the full time job offer was rescinded. This news was delivered with barely an apology. While the salon owner thinks there is no consequence to her careless actions she has done huge damage to her reputation.

In the blink of an eye my precious girl was crushed and totally devastated and on top of this blow she now had to contemplate crawling back to the people she had already turned down in the hope that those opportunities were still alive.

Ellen is a strong, determined, talented young woman with a great personality who will recover from this cruel setback but it is one that she should not have to deal with.

I’ve shared this story with a number of people and to my horror nearly everyone I spoke to were able to give me similar stories.

When you offer anyone a job this carries with it a big responsibility – besides the obvious financial consequences you also bring the person, their dreams, hopes and wishes with you.

This is a big responsibility… Mind 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, Ireland

 

Good for the soul

April 6, 2015

Back garden

I totally agree … That is the best way to describe our ‘nothing’ afternoon.

After walking the dogs in the park we grabbed a few rolls and some salad stuff and sat outside and of course we opened some vino and a beer or two and sat in the sunshine.

Mum and dad popped in for a while for a cuppa and to collect dad’s phone – he had left it behind yesterday when they were over for dinner.

We chatted about very little and at times didn’t chat at all as we sat outside in the garden taking in the sun on this gorgeous bank holiday Monday of the Easter weekend. The dogs pottered around us looking for leftovers from the table. There is something very comforting having them around us.

This feels just perfect.

Joan, one of our best buddies announces that this is “Good for the Soul

I know what she means …

We all need a little more of that.

Greg Canty 

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

Dunnes Stores – Building your Reputation

April 2, 2015

Dunnes Stores Strike

It was a strange thing – I heard news of the Dunnes Stores strike first thing this morning on Newstalk and immediately without hearing any of the detail I was on the side of the workers.

I wondered why did I think that automatically?

The truth is I never hear any good things about the company.

I don’t hear about charities they support, I don’t hear about a focus on Irish products,  I don’t hear about how they work closely with suppliers, I don’t see them being helpful on social media, I don’t hear about how much they contribute to the Irish economy and I don’t hear about new jobs that have created.

Instead I remember the strikes of old and the trouble and controversy that the company has had down through the years.

This doesn’t mean for a second that they do none of these things – it just means I don’t know about the good things they do and as a result when I hear a negative about them I tend to believe it.

When we use the words ‘building your reputation‘ it is a powerful analogy because your reputation is something that is built over time.

It is a culmination of all of the things you do; how you look after suppliers, your team and most importantly your customers. It also includes how you interact with the general community – while we are all in business to make a profit it is vital that we respect our environment and those around us and genuinely try to be a good, responsible corporate citizen.

Besides doing good it is vital that this is communicated clearly and effectively so that people understand that this is a business that genuinely cares about something more than just making money.

When an ill wind blows it is vital that your reputation has been built carefully and robustly so that it can withstand it easily and that you will have the support of your customers, investors, the media and the general public in these circumstances.

There is a strike at Dunnes

If a good job was done here our first thought when we hear this should be “They are a great company who are really responsible and fair – there must be two sides to that story

Build your reputation … it will protect you

Greg Canty

Fuzion with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland offer a full Crisis PR Service. Deirdre Waldron, (Partner) heads up the Crisis PR team, which includes former journalists, media training and social media expertise.

 

 

 

Mr Motivator

March 28, 2015

Mr Motivator

There is just one Greg Canty and he is special and don’t you forget about it” he said

Just keep being the best ‘you’ that you can be” ..ok, I will.

It had been a while since I had chatted to him but it is always great when we do. He always leaves you feeling ten feet tall and better about yourself than before you had spoken.

I called him out of the blue just for a chat but he always has this knack of saying something that makes you feel better about yourself.

I remember years ago we had him over at the house for grub and at the time we were feeling a little but low because we were struggling to get some sponsors signed up for our Catwalks event. This was a high end fashion and beauty event that we used take on tour around Ireland.

I think he picked up that we weren’t as positive as we usually were and after a while he grabbed a flyer in his hand from a previous Catwalks event that we had run and he gave us one of his magical pep talks.

Do you see this?” he asked “You and Dee created a national event from nothing. You have already signed up some top brands and its been a huge success to date. Never forget that it is only you two who could have pulled something like this off

After he left we were punching the air, feeling special, full of motivation and determination, ready to take on the world … sure enough we signed up more sponsors.

We all need people like that in our lives, the ones who make you fell better about yourself, the ones who you can call if you need that little gee up …they are precious.

Pat Dolan Thank you Pat Dolan..

Who is your Mr Motivator?

Greg Canty 

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

LinkedIn and Temptation

March 22, 2015

Temptation

I remember a few years back being asked to give some LinkedIn training to the senior team in a large company.

When I was asked to give the training my contact stressed that I wasn’t to mention that it was a popular platform for job hunting and for putting your CV ‘out there‘. Apparently their financial department had recently been poached en masse and they were putting this down to LinkedIn so it was a delicate issue.

I carefully went through my presentation and removed any references to job hunting or it being a platform for hosting your  ‘online 3D CV‘.

I duly arrived, started my presentation and just 30 seconds into the session the first question was fired at me “Isn’t LinkedIn just a great place for finding a new job?“!

It was clear I wasn’t going to get away with avoiding the ‘elephant in the room‘.

Personally I see LinkedIn as a lot more than a place for online CV’s.

It has been a fantastic way for me and Fuzion to highlight our services, to make new contacts and great connections and to really drive our visibility. We blog frequently and we push our blog posts on LinkedIn and it helps showcase out team and their expertise.

However I must admit that the ‘CV’ dimension and the increased focus on job adverts combined with the relative ease of finding and targeting possible candidates is starting to have a huge impact on employees and employers. It has had an impact on our business.

Unfortunately I feel it can be detrimental to both employees and employers and if we are not careful this will only get worse.

Temptation..

In the good old days (I started my first proper job in an accountancy office in 1982) we took a job and tended to stay with companies for quite a while. In many cases we worked our way up the ladder through a combination of experience and on the job training.

Generally the senior long serving team members would live and breathe the organisations they worked for and they tended to have a deep practical knowledge of them including the ethos and core beliefs that the places were built on.

When the job stopped interesting and challenging you, when you stopped learning or when the career progression stopped then it was a natural time to start looking for a new job.

At this moment you started flicking through the job pages in the newspaper on a Friday and you might even register yourself with an employment agency. It was a very considered process.

Now things have changed significantly ..every single day anyone with a LinkedIn profile (there are over 1.4 million people in Ireland) can receive a job enquiry, a little temptation is dangled in front of them and long before they have even considered looking for another job their head has been turned and they are unsettled.

Two of our team left in the recent past and the story was the same for both of them “You know me, I love it here. I wasn’t even looking but they contacted me and the offer was so good I couldn’t resist“.

While this is a detrimental issue for employers who now have to contend with much higher staff turnover it is even more detrimental for the individuals who are letting their heads be easily turned.

Before their full skill-sets are developed and they have a chance to grow in their roles they are off and starting again, never reaching their full potential anywhere.

Technology has clearly changed all of our lives and in the workplace these changes are very significant.

Avoiding temptation..

This new temptation is detrimental to everyone and we need to take a little control back to limit how detrimental it is.

For the individuals that are tempted have a really good think before you allow your head to be turned – is this temptation really the best thing right now for your development and your long term career?

For employers who are tempted – do you really want to take someone on who has their head turned that easy? This won’t be the last time their head will turn!

Temptation ..no thanks!

Greg Canty 

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

 

 

Sixteen tons and what do you get?

March 14, 2015

My dad "pops"

It was a strange 50th birthday..

It couldn’t be the usual champagne popping have a blast carefree type of a day as my dad had to have a procedure at the Bons Secours hospital in Cork.

This was very strange as 50 years to the day I was actually born in the very same hospital – who could have predicted that?

We were with him first thing in the morning as the nurse came in to bring him to the theatre. As usual even though he was apprehensive about what lay ahead he couldn’t help being his usual charming and funny self!

I’ll bring you down to the theatre Michael, will we get a wheelchair?” the nurse asked

My dad looked at her as if she had two heads – no way was that happening!

He bounced out of the bed and started joking with the nurse, relaxing my mum, me and Dee.

In the corridor he stopped her and he went into his usual routine, the routine he does with everyone, and one that makes us all smile. Even my six year old niece in the U.S. can recite this because he taught it to her when she could barely talk!

If you see me comin’, you better step aside
A lotta men didn’t, a lotta men died
One fist of iron, the other of steel
If the right one don’t a-get you
Then the left one will

This seemed so appropriate and defiant and he delivered it with clenched fists and a charming smile – nothing is going to beat this man and definitely not today!

You’re lovely, I’ll go anywhere with you he says” and he linked the nurses arm.

We stood there watching as my fantastic dad (“pops” I call him) walked away from us with the nurse laughing and joking down the long corridor to a place that neither he nor any of us wanted to be on this March day.

I was curious about where the words for my dad’s little routine came from. They come from a song made popular by a guy called Tennessee Ernie Forde in 1955. His version became a huge hit and it was later covered by many artists including Johnny Cash and even Robbie Williams!

It was first recored in 1946 by a country singer called Merle Travis. The clever, catchy song is about a coal miner who has broken his back shovelling coal all his life. He never sees actual pay because the workers used get paid in vouchers, which they could exchange for goods at the company owned store:

Some people say a man is made outta mud
A poor man’s made outta muscle and blood
Muscle and blood and skin and bones
A mind that’s a-weak and a back that’s strong

You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
I owe my soul to the company store

I was born one mornin’ when the sun didn’t shine
I picked up my shovel and I walked to the mine
I loaded sixteen tons of number nine coal
And the straw boss said “Well, a-bless my soul”

You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
I owe my soul to the company store

I was born one mornin’, it was drizzlin’ rain
Fightin’ and trouble are my middle name
I was raised in the canebrake by an ol’ mama lion
Cain’t no-a high-toned woman make me walk the line

You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
I owe my soul to the company store

If you see me comin’, you better step aside
A lotta men didn’t, a lotta men died
One fist of iron, the other of steel
If the right one don’t a-get you
Then the left one will

You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
I owe my soul to the company store

There was no point waiting around so I went about my day, which included meetings, lunch with Dee and my two kids, Brendan and Ellen, a little clothes shopping spree in Brown Thomas and a drive to Dublin.

We got news that dad had recovered well from the procedure but he still isn’t quite out of the woods yet. Not quite what we were hoping to hear.

That evening we ended up having dinner at Leinster House with a good friend and some interesting people – the last thing on this strange day that I could have expected was people singing ‘Happy Birthday‘ to me there!

It wasn’t a perfect birthday but I spent it with people I love, I loaded some coal, I had an unexpected evening and I watched one of my all time heroes charming a nurse and defiantly saying “If you see me coming, you better step aside

Now it’s time to load some more coal ..

Greg Canty 

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

You get what you pay for – maybe you get a lot less?

March 9, 2015

PR versus advertising

You get what you pay for ..maybe when you pay you get less?

At nearly every talk I attend about social media these days a business Facebook user asks the question about the crashing reach of their posts – a few years ago when you posted something this post would reach a large number of your users (fans) who had signed up and followed your page.

Over the last few years the ‘reach’ of your posts has been crashing and we are now at a stage when some posts will get just a handful of views.

PR versus Advertising

A savvy customer will believe editorial or an article they read a lot more than an advert – a standard mechanism in the PR industry values media coverage three times more than the equivalent advertising space. (Have a peep at a blog post that our own Edel Cox has written on the topic).

After all if you pay to say you are great it’s not worth as much as someone else saying you are great!

The very same argument can be applied to your posts on social media.

As we have mentioned above Facebook have well and truly entered the ‘show me the money‘ era as fans of your page are no longer seeing your posts that they have signed up to see. Sooner or later this moment was going to come as all the social media platforms must make money just like any other business.

If 10% of your fans are seeing your posts then you are doing extremely well. From my experience those doing better than this are generally either giving away bucket loads of free stuff or have fallen into the trap of posting irrelevant funny videos.

Show me the money

The only way to really ensure that your fans are seeing your posts is to ‘boost‘ them. This is done simply by paying a few quid (the amount will vary depending on how many fans you have) to ensure that your post is pushed out by Facebook to your existing fans and beyond that if you wish.

The big problem with this approach is that suddenly these posts appear in your fans timeline with the word ‘sponsored‘ above them. Your post that was never intended to be an advert has now become an advert and just like the PR versus advertising argument its value has reduced to a third.

In my view the only way around this is to find other ways of talking to your “tribe” – we need to post frequently on Facebook (carefully choose the times that your audience are online) so that we are not fully reliant on the adverts, we must start using the other social media platforms such as Twitter or Instagram (which are still relatively “pure”) or try to get your fans to sign up for your e-newsletter, which isn’t quite as conversational.

The important thing, however you go about it is that your tribe believe and trust what you are saying to them

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion offer Social Media Consultancy and Training in Dublin and Cork

Do we say something?

March 5, 2015

Hear no evil

This is the tricky part …

You feel something has gone wrong, you have been treated unfairly, you have seen someone else being treated badly and they are losing out..

If you open your mouth and complain then you become the ‘pain in the backside‘, the one who always ends up raising the issue, always being troublesome, the one to be avoided in the future.

In some ways maybe you are better off just saying nothing … Let someone else be the one to complain or raise the issue.

We rationalise that maybe that is actually the best approach, bite the lip, say nothing, stay in line and stay in favour, surely someone else will ask the question?

All of us do this all of the time because it makes sense, we think about the bigger picture and we decide to be strategic. Surely this is the best way to win?

Every time we do this someone gets away with something that maybe they shouldn’t and bad practices become a habit – with power and influence on their side bad practice becomes an even bigger habit and it goes on and on.

Jimmy-Savile

Before we know it we are reading awful stories about sweet deals, favours, corruption, embezzlement, back handers and abuse … we read about Jimmy Savile and wonder how could such terrible, shocking things happen. Who is to blame?

When we make a decision to say nothing it becomes all of our fault.

Dr. Martin Luther King famously said “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends”

Say something ..

Note: After I wrote this post I read an incredible article in the Irish Independent where an Irish educated surgeon, Gabrielle McMullin advises trainee doctors not to report sexual abuse as it could affect their careers. Is she right?

Greg Canty 

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

Tenders that are anything but

February 19, 2015

Tenders

I’ve had enough ..

The call came through directly to us that we were invited to tender for supplying social media training services across the country for this state body (I won’t mention who it was for the  moment).

Alarm bell number one..

Why wasn’t this put out to tender on the normal etender website I wondered?

I get quite suspicious when this happens – isn’t there a normal procedure for this?

Alarm bell number two..

We received the specification for this training and I was really surprised by how specific it was and by some of the language used. The objective was outlined clearly and it was up to the service providers to provide a solution. The thing is the ‘solution‘ was nearly fully mapped out in the specification.

One of the challenges for us was that the prescribed ‘solution’ would not achieve the required objectives.

We were well qualified to deliver a comprehensive solution for this organisation and we have huge relevant experience in the area so we went about writing a plan. This work took me the best part of a day to complete.

Alarm bell number three..

There was a very unusual item in the specification advising that the provider should budget “in a range of between €21,000 and €24,000“.

Why would a state organisation provide anyone tendering with a price guide? This was particularly surprising when the published ‘marking criteria‘ included cost.

Is it not up to each provider to assess the need and then provide a budget to fulfil this need?

Our proposal ..

We completed our proposal and included a more comprehensive training schedule than what was prescribed in their specification, clearly explaining why less training would not achieve their objectives.

I priced this using our normal rates and I was surprised that despite the heavier workload our budget came in a few thousand under the €21,000 – €24,000 price range as indicated.

We submitted our proposal and crossed our fingers – this was a really well thought out substantial and comprehensive evaluation and training plan.

Just like every proposal you work on, you end up investing your time and a little part of yourself in them and you become hopeful – on this proposal we were definitely hopeful.

Alarm bell number four – time to evacuate the building!!

We received our ‘Dear John‘ letter within days of submitting the proposal and we also received our score compared to the winning proposal based on the evaluation criteria.

On ‘methodology and fit for purpose‘ we scored 1,800 out of 3,000.

Surprise,surprise …the winning provider scored a full 3,000!!

Our methodology took their specification and went deeper and more comprehensive – I could feel the rage starting to build inside me.

A score of 1,800 means we barely know what we are doing ..

On ‘quality and balance of resources proposed‘ we scored 2,800 out of 3,500.

Surprise, surprise (once again!!)…the winning provider scored a full 3,500!!

Wow …they must be brilliant. Like those kids in school who get 100% out of 100% for everything.

The rage was starting to brim over … the cat, the dog, the laptop, the office door – nothing was safe (don’t worry I just cursed a lot!)

On ‘cost‘ we scored 3,500 out of 3,500..Jackpot!

Surprise, surprise …we beat the winning provider because our costs were below what was prescribed in the tender document. My accounting training was starting to pay off!

Rules and regulations..

I feel sorry for the government agencies as they are obliged to put things out to tender even when they might have a preferred provider. This ‘technically‘ means there is always 100% transparency, fairness and honesty and equal opportunity for everyone.

90% of the providers I have met have given up on this tender process because they believe it is a farce and a colossal waste of time and anything but fair.

In the commercial world we can work with whoever we want and when we want even if providers are more expensive – this makes business easy as we can just get on with things and not be forced into a painful ‘tender’ process every single time we want to get our business done.

However, these rules are in place and when these agencies are obliged to put things out to tender this commits anyone (fools like us) who is interested in the work to spend a lot of time working on proposals.

If the process is genuine we will play the game and put our best foot forward and let the best crew win.

When it is not and we are being used unfairly just so that the agency can ‘tick the box‘ on their technical obligations it is a much different manner.

What can we do??

This time I have had enough and I am complaining, freedom of information, the whole nine yards and I don’t care about the consequences.

The dilemma we all have is that ‘we don’t want to be seen as the troublemakers‘ and if we complain then we run the risk of not getting some crumbs from the table down the road.

We pay our taxes, which pays for these state agencies and if these rules are in place I won’t put up with anyone wasting our precious time just so they can tick a box and give the business to their favoured supplier.

I’ll let you know how this one goes…

Update !!

A lot of people have contacted me since I published this post.

Many are irate and have given up on the tender system as they feel it is anything but. Some have criticised me and told me that we are naive to expect any of this to be a chance of winning business – ‘play the game‘ and get in there before things go to tender, which is how you win things I am told.

I desperately want to believe that this system can work fairly and that it is a valid way of winning business.

With that rationale I did officially complain and as expected I didn’t get very far..

There were explanations

Performance – the winning company apparently committed to seven times more activity than what was outlined in the brief. I can’t see how this would be necessary and I struggle to see how the teams would be free to attend that much training. We will keep a careful eye on that one.

Budget – they told me that it is their “normal practice” to give a budget guideline to be fair to everyone tendering. I don’t think I have seen this in a tender, at least not the ones we have entered.

The unexplained

It turns out another company who tendered for the work scored exactly the same as we did on the criteria except for the cost element. An incredible coincidence …what do you think?

They contacted me when they saw this post and have decided not to complain as they want to make sure that they do get those ‘crumbs from the table‘ the next time they might be going.

Maybe they are right!

Next steps .. lets see

Greg Canty 

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


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