Tourist for a day and Cork Hospitality

August 3, 2015

Family doing the South Parish Cork Walk

After a day stuck in the car in torrential rain in West Cork with my brother, his wife and their two young children who are visiting from the States we decided to play it safe and stick to Cork city today.

We popped into the tourist office on Grand Parade and after a really friendly and helpful chat with one of the team there, we grabbed some brochures and opted for the South Parish walk, one of four excellent walks mapped out around the city centre. This walk had particular significance as it is the area where my mother grew up.

Saint Fin Barres Cathedral, Cork

The walk is really interesting and easy to follow from Daunt Square, past Bishop Lucey Park and up to Saint Fin Barres Cathedral with excellent signposting and information on each of the main sign boards. The literature provided gives even more information about each of the places and the route.

Elizabeth Fort, Cork

After Saint Fin Barres we headed to Elizabeth Fort, which has recently been fully opened to the public. This free to visit fort provides incredible views right over the city and the friendly volunteers on duty gave us a great welcome. Just outside the fort is the oldest bar in Cork, The Gateway bar,  which is nestled alongside some of Cork’s oldest houses (late sixteen hundreds).

From here we crossed Barrack Street in search of the house where my grandmother grew up. A friendly taxi driver who noticed we were searching for somewhere gave us directions to 77 St. Kevin’s Square.

We ambled up the narrow old Cork city streets and came upon the square. A man who was walking alongside us overheard us chatting about number 77. “Are ye alright there” he asked with a tiny hint of suspicion. “That’s my house” he said.

I explained that this used to be the house where my grandmother grew up. He was confused “It’s been in my family since the fifties“. It looked like his family, The Coleman’s moved in after the McCarthy’s!

Family at 77 Saint Kevin's Square, Cork

Very quickly suspicion changed to a hearty welcome “Come on in and I’ll show you around“. Tim Coleman, an absolute gentleman opened up his home to us and showed us how it would have changed since when my grandmother would have lived there. He offered to take a photo of us all outside his home and off we went.

Nano Nagle's grave, Cork

Our Cork adventure continued to Nano Nagle’s grave at South Pres, which will soon be ‘Nano Nagle Place‘ after the redevelopment work on the site is completed. A huge sense of peace descends on you when you enter this sacred little graveyard where Nano Nagle and the many Presentation sisters are buried.

Coughlan's Bar, Cork

Our journey finished with a visit to Coughlan’s Bar towards the end of Douglas Street. The barman there was a credit to Cork and his profession – he was kind and gentle to my brothers two kids offering them wooden puzzles and a bag of crisps to keep them occupied! This would have been one of the watering holes that my granddad who lived at 55 High Street would have drunk in many moons ago.

We had a great day in our fantastic little city and as usual the Cork people played a starring role.

Well done Cork, you did me proud!

Greg Canty 

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

 

Poor expectations 

July 30, 2015

sunglasses

Trying on the shirt in the dressing room in Brown Thomas I knew I should have put my sunglasses in one of my bags instead of putting them on the chair.

Sure enough as I had paid for my new holiday shirt I realised I had left my glasses behind in the dressing room.  Surely there would be no problem and my glasses would still be there?

There was someone in the cubicle I had been in so I waited – no joy, glasses gone.

I had a quick word with security who went to check if someone had handed them in. Two minutes later he came back beaming with sunglasses in his hand – he clearly loves when he puts a smile on someone’s face by finding their lost property.

He handed them to me and while they looked quite like mine they unfortunately weren’t and I gave them back to him. They took my details just in case mine turned up. Needless to say my sunglasses never turned up and quite sadly this is what I expected.

Why do I have such little faith?

What would make you see sunglasses or anything that clearly belongs to someone else and decide “I’ll help myself to these“?

What would make you even want to wear someone else’s glasses?

It’s no big deal as they weren’t particularly expensive and they probably needed replacing but it is really sad that an everyday shopper felt it was OK to help themselves to something that wasn’t theirs.

It’s even sadder that I’m not that surprised ..

Greg Canty 

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

Something fishy and great neighbours

July 19, 2015

Quinlans Fish Restaurant, Cork

This week it was fantastic to see the doors open of a new fish restaurant, Quinlan’s in Princes Street in Cork – things are definitely improving and people having the confidence to open new places is proof of this.

Something even more fantastic was the little sandwich board that I spotted outside Nash 19, one of Quinlan’s neighbours.

Instead of listing the specials for the day “Welcome to our new neighbours” it read, which was a very generous gesture from another restaurant, who effectively would be a competitor of sorts of the newcomer.

As usual I like to tweet when I see a new business opening and very cleverly Quinlan’s responded to my tweet by inviting me and the Fuzion gang in for our #FuzionFriday lunch, which is our team tradition, one that we have kept going for 15 years.

We duly accepted the invitation and enjoyed a really great ‘fish and chips‘ lunch (and some vino!) at Quinlan’s and when we were there we had a great chat with their owner, Liam Quinlan, a Kerryman from Cahirciveen.

The first thing he mentioned was the fantastic support and welcome he had received from his new neighbours, many of which would be competitors. He spoke about the Nash 19 sandwich board, he mentioned Ernest Cantillon from Electric, Salvatore and his mum from Rossini’s and some of the traders from the English Market who all popped in to wish him the best.

I was absolutely thrilled and proud to hear about the genuine warm Cork welcome that some of the business people in our fantastic city have given to Liam and his team – well done to everyone involved.

We live in a competitive world and one where we have to focus all our energy on our own business. It is too easy to forget about good manners and making a little effort to be nice and offering a genuine welcome to another business person trying to make something positive happen.

The really great thing about giving a warm welcome is that it speaks volumes for those who offer it – being a great neighbour is actually great for business.

Greg Canty 

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

Believing

July 17, 2015

Steve Jobs and wozniak-1977

When you believe in something it engages you.

When you believe in what you are doing then you do it with enthusiasm and purpose.

When you believe in who you are doing it for and why then you do it with even more intensity and passion.

When everyone in the team has the same belief then you have a common bond and you become a powerful collective force.

When your customers believe then you can make real magic happen

Without belief you have nothing.

The most important thing you can do as a manager is to give your team something real to believe in

Greg Canty 

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

A picture paints a 1,000 words ..

July 13, 2015

Homeless man

How many times have we used the expression that “a picture paints a 1,000 words?

Arthur Brisbane - New York Editor and JournalistArthur Brisbane a high profile journalist and editor in New York is first credited with an expression close to this “Use a picture. It’s worth a thousand words.”

This very clever quote appeared in a 1911 newspaper article discussing journalism and publicity.

In our very busy, frantic, no time to stop, no time to read or study anything properly world with multiple media coming at us non-stop does this expression this hold up?

The idea that a picture is a powerful way to convey a message certainly holds up. The idea of using a multiple of 1,000 words is interesting – already I have used 116 words in this piece.

When I read that Arthur Brisbane penned this quotation I wanted to know what he looked like for some reason. He looks like James Stewart in the ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ era. He looks like a wise man!

As an editor and a journalist Arthur probably had a very strong instinct about how many words it took to deliver a message and what job an equivalent image would do.

If you consider the likelihood of something grabbing our attention today and you think about the job an image can do and the equivalent article (or articles) to do the same job it makes you think about that multiple.

Is it more than 1,000? Is it 10,000? Is it 100,000.

Of course it all depends on the image and how well this is constructed to deliver the necessary message.

At Fuzion when we issue a press release to the media we will often insist that a strong photo accompanies the release – sometimes the picture will be the thing that will get the big space in the newspaper and sometimes we will get both the picture and the article.

For the reader if the image is strong enough it will convey the message or story that we wanted and it may be the hook that will make the reader stop and actually read the ‘words’.

Does a picture paint 1,000 words?

We guess it does and much more besides ..

The story of the photo (top of the blog post)

A family of a missing man spotted him in a photo taken of homeless men that appeared in a Sunday newspaper. Nicholas Simmons, 20, was in upstate New York on New Year’s Day, but he vanished leaving all his belongings behind, according to Fox News on Jan. 6.

Someone in his family spotted Nick in a picture that showed a group of homeless men. The men hovered around a steam grate trying to get warm on the streets of Washington D.C. recently. The homeless men looked destitute, including Nick, trying to get warm in the frigid temperatures. Nick’s parents called the police, who were able to locate their son.

The photographer who took the picture conveyed more than 1,000 words ..

For your website, brochures, posters, press releases get great photos that tell your story.

Greg Canty 

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

Tenders and sun tans!

July 4, 2015

Working on holidays

At last our holiday – a week in Italy with family and great friends. We had a nice place booked for all of us just outside Siena for seven days to rest, relax, chill out and generally recharge the batteries.

Myself and Dee got there a few days in advance and we were due to pick up our buddy and his girlfriend from the train station in Siena for their much deserved break – he works his ass off all year round and the odd time we get to collaborate on work projects.

I called him the day before we were due to collect them to confirm arrangements and he was a little upset – his company was on a supplier panel for a semi-state body and a project was just put out to tender.

This project, which was right up his street and closely related to a bigger project that we had worked with him on was given a one week deadline for responses.

A one week deadline on a tender for a complex project like this is highly unusual and quite unreasonable. At this holiday time of the year it is more so.

Not only is it unfair but if this organisation are genuine about getting the best providers pitching then one weeks notice just shoots themselves in the foot – you have to ask the question, is it a genuine tender process or is designed for their preferred supplier who are fully briefed and ready to submit to win?

Dilemma – Was he to grab a laptop from somewhere and work on the tender submission, which would take up at least a full day of his hard earned holidays or pass? A contract like this would be important to him and his company so it was a big decision.

My buddy did the reasonable thing and asked for a one week extension – surely this was quite reasonable?

They would have done well to allow him this “break”:

  1. There was no real urgency on this work (this semi-state have dragged their heels on this project for well over a year already)
  2. He is hugely knowledgeable on the project and would provide a valuable tender (they know he has this knowledge)
  3. A weeks notice is unreasonable and highly unusual
  4. The request was ‘fair’ and reasonable
  5. They will have a better chance of more quality tender submissions

As expected he got his response;

I have contacted the evaluation team to review the possibility of extending the deadline, unfortunately we are unable to extend

..fantastic!

I know a guy working there who holds quite a senior role and asked him to look into it.

He investigated it and confirmed that nothing could be done …. the thing is of course it can be. When it suits them anything can be done.

My buddy as he was taking a rare week off with his other half decided after much torment against working on the tender proposal and ruining a big portion of his holiday but it did upset him.

In truth I believe he made a great decision because if they really wanted a proposal from his company it would have happened.

I suspect that if he had given up his time and submitted the best, competitively priced proposal of all time it still would not have won him the job.

Readers of my blog will have heard me giving out about the tender process before – some agree with me and others feel I am moaning and I should accept that this is just the way it is and ‘shut up‘. It has been suggested by some that most tenders are done and dusted in advance of them being published and this is ‘Just the way it is‘.

I strongly believe that tender processes are too often being manipulated, including the use of every possible trick at times to ensure that fairness and the very reason that these processes were introduced in the first place are not applied – this happens over and over.

I have also come to believe that complaining is a total and utter waste of time and probably ends up working against you both in the short and long run.

The sooner there is a body with real power that can oversee the proper application of our tender rules (these are the government agencies that we pay for) and processes and genuinely investigate complaints the better. Without this nothing will change and these farcical situations will continue as they always have.

As for my buddy I suspect his frustration will last longer than his tan ..

Greg Canty 

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

 

The difference between winning and “everyone is a winner”

June 26, 2015

PRII Awards 2015 - Fuzion PR

I am sitting on a beach just outside Rome and I am doing my best to relax and enjoy the sea breeze  and my book and I see my team tweeting about the PRII awards ceremony (PR Institute of Ireland) and the award that we have been nominated for – ‘National Award for Excellence in PR for the Best Public Campaign’.

These are a real big deal as they are the “Oscar’s” for our industry in Ireland and we are up against the biggest PR firms in the country.

We have been nominated for the work we did for our client Down Syndrome Ireland regarding the campaign to get the return of discretionary medical cards for people with Down syndrome.

Some of our team are at the awards ceremony and being honest I’m delighted I’m not there as I really hate going to them – it’s fantastic to be nominated for the awards but once it comes to the ceremony there is just one ultimate winner in each category.

Fuzion have been winners at these things before but we have also been nominees or runners-up, which is always painful no matter how you dress up the “everyone here is a winner” argument.

The feeling of being at the awards and winning is fantastic but the feeling of being there and not winning to me is not great and one I’m not too good at coping with if I am being honest.

I’m sure I’ll find out pretty soon how we did by keeping an eye on twitter – I’ll be over the moon if we win and will definitely celebrate in Rome later and if we are a glorious runner-up I’ll be glad I am on this beach and not in that room watching others celebrate!

Does this make me a bad loser? … probably!

Deirdre’s phone rings and she doesn’t answer it. A text comes through from Aoibhinn…. We won!!

I am over the moon and so proud of the recognition for our team and the work we did on this campaign (and all of the rest of the time).

It’s a pity I’m on a beach and not there to celebrate with my team!

(pic: Aisling White and Aoibhinn Twomey from Fuzion pictured with our client, Pat Clarke from Down Syndrome Ireland)

Greg Canty 

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

Do you need a fighter?

June 11, 2015

Dr Martin Luther KIng

I was part of an interview panel recently for a client and during the course of my pre-interview preparation I did my usual checks online with the various candidates.

This normally reveals a lot – you can see how strong their presence is online, you can see how good their communications skills are and you can see the things they care about.

Often what you discover from their social media activity can confirm what they have described on their CV’s, it can further illuminate who they are or it can even bring everything into question – is this a different person?

I love the LinkedIn profiles in particular and the great ones have genuine recommendations written for them supporting the work they did in particular roles, which makes it really easy to assess them.

You can also see other evidence of their lives, their blog posts, the websites they are listed on and even some media coverage they have been mentioned in…all very interesting.

Unfair dismissal

In one individual’s case I quickly found a newspaper article whereby they had taken and settled a constructive dismissal case against a former employer!

According to the article the case was settled on the steps (of course!) and both sides were quoted as saying “they were happy with the outcome” – no doubt a cheque was written and this person backed down.

The unfortunate thing about the article is that this person was the only person named (the organisation was named but not the individuals involved) and as a result they have this against their name for people like me to find on a simple Google search.

Their CV obviously didn’t mention this incident – how could you even go about presenting this information to a prospective employer in a positive way? The CV told a different, quite positive story.

My immediate reaction was alarm bells – is this person trouble and are things not so rosey in their garden?

And then I reflected – maybe this person was bullied, maybe they were one of many in the organisation who were mistreated and instead of quietly moving on just maybe they were the ones who were strong and brave enough to stand up for themselves and make sure that this behaviour stopped?

Maybe they did this to ensure the practice of bullying stopped within the organisation?

Instead of being a huge negative maybe this incident gave a huge hint that this person was a strong person with high principles who was prepared to stand up and fight for what is right, even if it had the potential to make them look bad. In this case you could definitely argue that it did.

Isn’t it possible that a person like this is a rare gem and not the ‘troublemaker‘ we first thought?

The unfortunate truth is that in most cases this person won’t even get as far as an interview because we do jump to conclusions quickly so what can that person do?

Taking control

They most take control of their ‘story’ online – make sure LinkedIn, Twitter and even Facebook tell a really positive story. Get those recommendations from previous employers and other people in business who will enforce the good stories.

The other big thing that person can do is to start self publishing online – start blogging, start guest blogging, push that expertise and passion out there and quickly that Google space will be filled with their own material and those old articles will gradually get pushed down the ranking and will not be found.

If they get to interview and the ‘topic’ comes up they should be prepared to tell the real story.

In this case the person had withdrawn from the process even though we were quite happy to interview them.

If they are a fighter they also have to fight for their own online presence and reputation!

A fighter could be the very person you need ..

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion offer Social Media Consultancy and Training in Ireland from our offices in Dublin and Cork

 

 

 

“Don’t worry, I own your problem now”

May 31, 2015

Taking ownership of a problem

We had a really interesting networking session at the recent Business Owners Network event at Dublin Chamber.

This group of business owners meet pretty much every second Friday morning, bright and early from 7:30 am till 9am. The sessions always involve some informal networking over a coffee and normally there is a guest speaker about some topic of interest.

(I would highly recommend it to business owners in Dublin – great for networking, learning, contacts and new business)

At our recent session, which I was privileged to chair we did some formal networking by breaking the room into circles of six people allowing each person a proper chance to share with the others what they do. At the session we also looked for people to share their number one business tip, which was quite interesting and varied.

At the end of the session each group were asked to share their learnings, which again generated some really interesting topics;

  • Nothing beats meeting people face to face
  • Listen to your customer and be open to changing your offer according to what they need
  • By listening to others you always learn something new
  • Cold calling can be quite enjoyable!
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for the business

My big learning from the session was that you should never under estimate the wisdom that experience brings – in every conversation with someone you nearly always learn something new.

I was chatting to one of the attendees, Sean who was passionate about customer service. The gist of the conversation was that customer service has disimproved generally and that there is huge customer frustration in particular with the call centre culture whereby you rarely get the feeling that someone is really ‘on top‘ of your problem.

You know the drill ..you call, you are often in a queue to be heard, you go through a sequence of pressing numbers, then you give your account details and eventually you get a chance to describe what is wrong. From here you can end up being passed from pillar to post, each time repeating your details and the nature of the problem.

In fact when you have an issue you need to put a good half hour aside as the whole process can end up taking that long.

He used a great expression to demonstrate what a great process would look like. You just want the person you speak to first to say: “Don’t worry, I own your problem now” and leave you with an assurance that they will see it through until it is sorted.

Do you own your customer’s problems?

Greg Canty 

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

Nothing to play for

May 23, 2015

Chelsea-v-Manchester-United-Premier-League

The end of the football season is always a very strange time – it manages to produce unexpected results, surprising comebacks and even more surprising defeats.

Teams that were hopeless all season all of a sudden put a run together and start winning matches, virtually unrecognisable from before. They miraculously survive.

Teams that performed well all season but know that they can’t win the league start losing and drawing games, which before they would more than likely have won easily.

The teams that know they are ‘safe‘ from relegation take a breather for the last few matches because they know the job is done and they start losing matches.

The teams involved at the latter stages of the cup tournaments start performing lousy in league matches because the players are ‘saving’ themselves for the glamour matches.

At this stage of the season those at the bottom with the desire to survive always seem to be able to dig deep a little more than those near the top. Survival is possibly a stronger motivator than getting as high as possible at this stage.

The best teams to play against seem to be those who have ‘nothing to play for‘. With a stronger motivation to win surely the team who needs it more will have a better chance at overpowering a team who don’t really need it at all?

There are always exceptions like the team that is already relegated and manages to win their first away match of the whole season against a team fighting for their lives. The extreme pressure was off and they managed to relax and play the football they were capable of but never managed before.

It is at this stage of the season that you see who the great managers really are.

These managers are the ones who inspire their teams to win even when there is nothing to play for such as Jose Mourinho. Even though the team has already won the league he still manages to motivate his players enough to beat teams who have a lot more to play for.

No matter what you do you must give your team something to play for; some target, some goal, some challenge so that they can dig in, reach higher and keep winning.

What are your team playing for?

Greg Canty 

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


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