Facing the Music 

October 7, 2015

Brendan Rodgers, Liverpool

Week after week I watched the pre and post-match interviews.

As a lifelong Liverpool FC fan I’ve been concerned about the team’s loss of form and I am glued to each of those interviews to see what our manager, Brendan Rodgers had to say.

I was starting to feel a lot of sympathy for him as the line of questioning was unrelenting. At each interview it was the same thing “Are you under pressure?” “Are the players under pressure?” “Is the team suffering from a loss of confidence?” “Do you have the backing of the owners?

Then of course this becomes the topic with all of the pundits, the former players and it makes for headlines in the newspapers “Rodgers under pressure“..the screw is slowly but surely being turned.

Normally the interviews used to focus on the match, the tactics, the performance of players, the injury situation but most of the recent ones were all about his job security. It became the latest episode of an ongoing soap opera.

Interview after interview he batted these questions away, not getting frustrated and insisting that he and the team were not affected but instead they were concentrating on their jobs. He recently did speak about the ‘hysteria‘ around his job by the media and he did mention a ‘group’ who wanted him out.

He did have a point – it was a little over the top.

Match after match the manager of each team must ‘face the music’ – good result or bad result he has to face the media. This must be a tough and very punishing routine when things are not going your way.

I was impressed that the Liverpool team started so impressively in the local derby match against Everton. This was a huge game for him and the team – while the match wasn’t perfect the team were very focused despite the pressure.

Once again after the match he faced the music – it was the same story.

After the same repetitive line of questioning he stated that he didn’t need to look for reassurance from the owners and he hoped he would be the manager for years to come.

This was even more cruelty – the team had just earned a good result away to Everton and this was still the big topic of the questioning!

An hour later when he got off the team bus he was summoned to the office and relieved of his duties. The pressure valve was finally released.

The club confirmed the news by simply posting a press statement on the company website.

This was clearly prepared in advance, carefully crafted and just posted on the website and more than likely issued to the media by their press office.

Ironically no one in management had to sit in front of the media and ‘face the music‘. Their statement would suffice.

Football is a very cruel sport where the players and the managers are in the full glare of the media spotlight constantly and no matter how much they are trained to handle this pressure it must eventually wear them down.

Brendan Rodgers – thank you for the incredible highs of the 2013/2014 season where you had the team playing some of the most incredible and exciting football I have ever seen.

You very nearly did it!

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion PR, Marketing and Graphic Design, with offices in Dublin and Cork


Dyson – Rising to the Customer Service Challenge

October 4, 2015

Dyson Customer Service

Back in January our Dyson vacuum cleaner packed up and we were more than happy to replace it with another one. It’s a brand I really believe in, so much so that I wrote a blog about it called ‘Hoovering and Storytelling‘.

Three weeks ago we had a problem with our relatively new Dyson so we rang the customer service number and after a very straight forward, quibble free process the offending part would be replaced and delivered to us. The promise was that we would have it within ‘10 working days‘.

To be honest I thought 10 working days was quite a long time for a part they said was in stock but at least they were going to replace it and in the meantime we would manage.

Three weeks passed and there was no sign of our part so we called the Dyson customer service number. They had a record of our transaction and confirmed that due to a system glitch the part had not been dispatched. The operative was very polite, very apologetic but explained that unfortunately we were back at the beginning of the process again and a replacement part would take up to 10 working days to get to us.

It was time to take a stand and explain that this really wasn’t good enough.

Without getting argumentative we asked the operative if there was some way of expediting the delivery of our part. He told us he needed to check with his supervisor so he put us on hold briefly. After about two minutes he came back to us and confirmed that while the circumstances were unfortunate there was “nothing they could do“.

I detest those words because quite simply there is always something that can be done. ‘There is nothing I can do is a choice about what you are prepared to do, a choice about what is acceptable.

This was the system.

There is nothing I can do

We left him know that we weren’t happy and that surely there is ‘always something that can be done‘? Nope ..

We had exhausted the ‘official channel‘ so we reluctantly reverted to twitter to vocalise our disappointment with the Dyson brand.

Immediately the Dyson social media team reacted and wanted to know what happened. Without too much fuss they confirmed that what happened wasn’t good enough, that it wasn’t consistent with the Dyson culture so they would investigate our situation immediately and check with the customer service team.

They thanked us for highlighting a ‘flaw‘ in their customer service procedures, which they would take on board as a learning. Instead of waiting 10 days for a replacement part a new, better machine would be delivered to us in three working days.

With all of our businesses we have to make decisions on a regular basis about how we handle complaints. What do we do, how quick do we respond, what is fair – what do we decide is acceptable?

Things will inevitably go wrong from time to time and while we all hate complaints we need to make a decision about how we deal with them. A complaint is a great way to show the real ethos of your business and instead of saying ‘there is nothing I can do‘ we need to embrace the issue, do our very best and learn from it.

If you were cynical you might decide that Dyson reacted because the issue was highlighted on a public social media platform but I do believe they were genuine and they rose to the Customer Service Challenge. Instead of being a negative for the brand it is a positive. My faith is restored!

Well done Dyson ..

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion PR, Marketing and Graphic Design, with offices in Dublin and Cork




Housing Crisis or Housing Opportunity?

September 29, 2015

housing opportunity

I was sitting on a plane coming back from London on the late flight and I noticed someone a few seats ahead of me on the opposite side flicking through the newspaper. I hadn’t tuned into the news that day so I was trying to soak up the headlines as best I could to get some hint as to what was going on.

Headlines are quite dangerous because often they are designed to catch your attention and the actual content may not fully reflect the ‘story’ that is portrayed. You only discover this when you actually read the article but often we never get that opportunity as when we are busy we flick the pages of the newspaper and very quickly we start to consume the ‘headlines‘ as the actual stories.

This headline had the words ‘Housing Crisis‘ in it and as it would imply there must be a housing crisis. I have read these words in so much coverage lately that it would be correct in assuming that we have a big  ‘housing crisis‘ on our hands.

If you Google the words ‘housing crisis‘ you will get a mountain of listings with many published in the last few days.

When we read the articles you will hear about the lack of supply, small numbers of houses being built, negative equity, repossessions, rising rents, tighter controls over bank lending, NAMA and developers sitting on land banks and a looming homelessness crisis.

For the most part it is all negative rhetoric and that word ‘crisis’ is bring used over and over, so much so that we should all get depressed.

In any other industry if you were to describe this exact set of circumstances we would be using the words ‘opportunity‘ instead:

  • There is high demand for the products and lack of supply
  • The demographics indicate that this demand will sustain itself into the future
  • Prices are rising due to demand but there are also low interest rates and an improving economy
  • Employment levels and income are rising
  • Fulfilling this demand (10,000 units per annum extra) will create 25,000 extra jobs
  • More jobs means more ability to pay, creating even more demand
  • Demand will generate income for the government
  • Demand will stimulate growth in supporting industries

Why aren’t we using the word opportunity and looking at the upside and the huge positives?

If this was any other sector, businesses would be seizing the opportunities and they would be supported by the banks. If we could create 25,000 new jobs there would be all sorts of supports and incentives on offer by the government.

And what about all of the ancillary products and services? – the carpets, curtains, tiling, fittings, furniture and electrical sales which would come after all of the professional services. That would be a huge amount of economic activity.

When it comes to property we are suspicious, we are fearful it will ‘overcook‘ the economy once again and we feel that any incentives given to consumers will be abused by the developers. It’s an industry that we distrust and the word ‘greed‘ seems to automatically apply because of the excess of the Celtic Tiger, which is still fresh in all our minds.

Despite this negativity around the industry I am very puzzled  that no one is writing about these obvious positives so I have a peep at the Construction Industry Federation website to see what they are saying.

I find a copy of a press release dated 4th September 2015 with the heading “Six steps to increasing housing supply and stimulate growth in the economy“.

They could just be right ..

The best way to solve our ‘housing crisis’ is to seize the housing opportunity.

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion PR, Marketing and Graphic Design, with offices in Dublin and Cork


Promoting Cork in London and Leadership

September 26, 2015

Cork - BgOnLife

We were delighted to have won the tender with Cork City Council to support them with the sponsorship of and participation in the FDI Forum in London, which was run by the Financial Times.

For me it was a great opportunity as we had been a key part of the work on the Cork Brand Marketing team, which involved literally all of the Cork stakeholders who wanted to market Cork with one consistent voice. This forum was the first expression of this work where we were able to use findings and language from the Cork brand book that we helped to develop.


With all marketing you need to do your very best to deliver a clear message that helps you to stand out in some way. From our work it was clear that Cork is very attractive for business as it works Economically, there is a strong, well educated Talent Pool, it has an abundance of great things to see and do (locals and tourist offering) and the Quality of Life is second to none in our fantastic region.

This is a ‘perfect mix for business and personal success‘ with a special emphasis on the person. You can achieve your career and business goals in Cork and at the same time enjoy a fantastic quality of life. This for us was the extra special, stand out ingredient that Cork has to offer and even though our region is relatively ‘small‘ we have quality of life in abundance.

If you were to use a tagline to highlight this most special characteristic about the Cork region then ‘Big On Life‘ might just be it!

Brochures and other marketing materials had to be prepared and printed so it was first time we could give our ‘Big On Life‘ message a test run.

FDI Forum - London


A strong contingent left for London including senior people from Cork City Council, Cork Chamber, Cork Airport, Developers, and significant businesses all with the intention of flying the flag for Cork and attracting foreign direct investment to our special place.

Cork Chamber organised a dinner in London to bring this team together and to invite some key members of the Cork business community in London (the IIBN network) as well as officials from the IDA.

Cork Chamber president Barrie O’Connell made sure that everyone introduced themselves to the group and then quite cleverly sparked off a conversation about Cork by asking a few people to speak on a topic. This generated a huge and very fascinating ‘Cork‘ conversation about a wide range of topics and issues and helped for all of us to hear different perspectives and to learn.

Michelle Conaghan of the IDA gave us an insight about how they work and their challenges and how competitive the market is. She spoke about the importance of sector clusters, which is important for a talent pool but she also mentioned that the ‘life‘ package is important.

We learnt from the Irish guys working in London about how expensive it is and how global businesses must look at other locations.

Donal Sullivan of Tyco spoke about evolution. Years ago they reduced their numbers in Cork for cost reasons but now the nature of their work is different so Cork is relevant again. He is on a huge recruitment drive and he says the talent pool in Cork and Munster is great but most interesting is the ease of getting people to relocate from Dublin.

The Cork operation is the best performing one globally from a staff retention point of view – I wonder why?!

Cork Chamber president Barrie O’Connell spoke about tax advantages nearly being gone and it is the other factors that must now come into play to attract investment to Cork.

Cork Chamber CEO Conor Healy spoke about the need for ‘ambassadors‘ who will spread the word about Cork and that we should focus on the positives with Cork Airport, the good news and the potential. He is right.

Niall Sheehan, Head of Property from Dairygold who have a huge office development about to start in Cork spoke about the compelling facts about Cork and that we should be more confident about the strength of our offer.

Roger Hobkinson (the adopted Corkman!) from Colliers International who led the Cork Brand Marketing project spoke glowingly about participating in activities such as the FDI forum as a vehicle to promote Cork and bring the brand book to life. He also spoke about the importance of urban locations as being key when promoting a region.

Jonathan Grey (who is very excited as he has bought a house in Cork) of the IIBN who is working and living in London spoke of competition for FDI from regions in Scotland, England and Wales. The new London flights to Cork will be an advantage. He coined a fantastic phrase “you can live in Cork and do business with the world” – I love it!

We heard from John Cleary of JCD about the key messages that he uses when he is attracting American IT companies to Ireland. Lower cost is a big advantage in Cork but quality of life means that staff retention rates can be a lot higher, which is another big selling point. From his conversations connectivity to the U.S. is a big deal so the recent announcements about Cork Airport are very welcomed. He also stated the obvious about Ireland – “people will look at Dublin first”. Cork is a very viable and compelling alternative.

Theo Cullinane of BAM (a Cork sports star with some unique achievements as we discovered!) also spoke enthusiastically about the super quick work they are doing at One Albert Quay for JCD. This will be an office development with the best specification in the country, which is what new companies are looking for.

Pat Ledwidge from Cork City Council who led the participation in the FDI Forum spoke about how Cork, now has “product to sell” so it must gear up its marketing efforts abroad.

Ann Doherty, Chief Executive of Cork City Council emphasised the cost advantages of Cork as well as the quality of life aspects.

Of course I had to get my few words in..

Dublin is a fantastic city with lots of advantages but it is heating up and it is starting to get quite costly. Cork presents a different and very compelling offer “The Cork offer makes the Ireland offer a lot stronger“.

The engaging conversation bounced from one side of the table to the other with each person talking enthusiastically about our ‘favourite place‘ until the restaurant staff politely gestured that it was getting late … it was past midnight!

Goodie Bags

Reader ..bear with me for a few minutes as I talk about goodie bags – this is leading somewhere!

We wanted to leave delegates at the FDI  forum with something different than the usual flyers and brochures. We decided that we would place a ‘Cork – Big On Life‘ box in each of the delegate packs instead of the normal so they would remember us!

We had handmade sweets from Cork, postcards and a few other little bits and pieces all to go in our ‘Cork Big On Life box‘. While this was a great idea it did however mean ‘Big on Hassle‘  as the boxes had to be assembled in London (no short cuts I’m afraid!) and filled.

Elmarie McCarthy from Cork City Council selflessly took responsibility for this monumental task along with everything else that she had to coordinate and her bedroom became a mini production line in the early hours of the morning (there was no access to the conference venue beforehand).

After the meal and the networking the Cork team that were staying in the same hotel took responsibility and pitched in and assembled and filled these boxes until 1:30 am. Well done to Ann Doherty, Pat Ledwidge, Conor Healy and Barrie O’Connell for jumping in, simply because a job had to be done.

The next morning there was a repeat performance – the Cork ‘Big On Life’ boxes weren’t going to magic their way into the delegate packs in the short window of time that was available before the event started  – there was no standing on ceremony and our leaders took responsibility once again, got to the venue early, jumped in once again and quickly did the job that was needed. I did help along with Roger from Colliers.

The FDI Forum

This was a fascinating day with a huge array of speakers and panelists as well as fantastic networking opportunity. Cork were there in force joined by Denis Collins of Smarter Dynamics, Kevin Cullinane of Cork Airport, Malcolm Allan from Place Matters (our destination branding guru who was fantastic to work with on the Cork Marketing project) and Doug Howlett from Munster Rugby all chatting to delegates and spreading the word.


Cork was there proudly promoting ourselves along with other places such as Essex, Tblisi, Cyprus, Jersey, Melbourne, Lousiana, Singapore and Qatar.

I had an interesting chat with a delegation from Essex – they have a team of five people working for them proactively in the marketplace seeking opportunities as well as a Marketing/PR team supporting the communications of their message. They take a sector by sector approach and have identified four different ones to target. Promotion of your region is now sophisticated, big business and if we want these opportunities to come to Cork we need to gear up.

Ann Doherty - Chief Executive Cork City Council

Ann Doherty represented Cork superbly on a fascinating panel discussion and I am convinced that she must have worked in sales at some point because she didn’t let one opportunity to slip by to highlight what we have to offer here!

A lot of tired and weary Cork folk made there way to Heathrow airport to take the last flight home. 20 minutes after landing I was at home and I reflected on our little excursion (our airport is so incredibly fast and convenient).

As a proud Corkman I was privileged to have been part of this work and if this FDI community hadn’t heard of Cork before they certainly did now. Cork did itself proud in London and all of our various stakeholders need to do much more of this together. Individually we are all ambassadors for Cork and familiarising ourselves with our Cork brand book is a great starting point to stay on message with what our region has to offer.

The most impressive aspect of the London trip for me was the huge sense of pride and togetherness demonstrated by everyone, including our leaders and that willingness to take responsibility and do what was needed.

Cork .. #BigOnLife

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion PR, Marketing and Graphic Design, with offices in Dublin and Cork


Emotionally attuned

September 22, 2015

Mr Bing

It was a very sad Sunday ..

I came down the stairs to let our four legged one, Mr Bing out and I couldn’t believe it when I found him lying there, half on and half off his bed in the kitchen.

It was obvious that our 13 year old precious dog had passed away during the night unexpectedly and the moment we always dreaded had arrived – he was gone.

I had the awful job of telling Dee and then we had the even more awful job of figuring out what do to next. I had no idea as I was never in that situation before.

Outside the rain poured down and I briefly imagined that we would have to bury him in the garden – is that what you did? I had no idea.

In between the tears and the upset we managed to gather ourselves and call the local vet. We were the worst customers ever as Bing had only ever been there twice (just as well as he hated the vet!) – he was the most convenient dog ever, including picking a Sunday to wave goodbye to us!

The vet had a ‘for emergency use only‘ number and within seconds I found myself explaining our situation to the kind voice at the other side of the phone.

I’m so sorry to hear your news, you must be very upset. I will be at the veterinary surgery at 11 if you want to bring him over. Don’t worry we will take good care of him

He immediately settled us down and now we had the very upsetting job of carrying Bing from the house for the last time and into the car to make our way to the vet surgery in Togher.

Poor Dee was inconsolable as we drove to the vets. When we arrived there I went inside and was greeted by the loveliest and gentlest person, a girl called Karen.

I am so sorry” she said . “Let me open up the door at the back and I’ll help you bring him in” . This gentle woman helped me carry in our precious Bing and she covered him respectfully in a blanket.

As I went through the details with Karen I realised that I had to bring Dee in to figure out some of the options about cremation and what we wanted to do with his ashes. Karen realised how upset Dee was but we managed to get through the arrangements before saying goodbye to Mr Bing for the last time.

Dee wanted to put our own blanket on Bing, which we did. “Don’t worry , I’ll take good care of Bing until he is collected next Friday” Karen reassured us.

Before we knew it we were on the way home with empty hearts and plenty of tears but Karen made this horrible experience so much better.

She could not have been better, she fully understood how upset we were and she was absolutely perfect with us. She emotionally attuned to us and delicately went about the job that had to be done efficiently and professionally.

Our scenario was a very obvious emotional situation and she read it and attuned to it.

Not all emotional situations are as obvious as this one: I can’t afford to pay, the last customer caught us, the last work was shoddy, someone is sick in the family, I’m not well in myself, I’m worried about my kids or something bad has happened on my way here…it could be anything that has you in that emotional state.

The emotionally attuned person might pick up on this and flex accordingly but unfortunately many won’t do this even when the situation is very obvious. We are all too familiar with these situations “I’m sorry but there is nothing that I can do” might sound familiar! This is when it is too easy for someone to say the wrong thing and upset the situation, which could easily lead to it spiralling out of control.

The next time you are dealing with a customer try to emotionally attune and if you are the customer assume the person serving you is not a mind reader and do your best so they can understand your state of mind. We can all do better if we understand how the other person is feeling.

A huge thank you to Karen from Abbeyville Vetinary – you were absolutely brilliant with us and as for Mr Bing, we will always miss you xx

Bing with Ellen and DeeGreg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion PR, Marketing and Graphic Design, with offices in Dublin and Cork

Cork Merger – A poor process has us all scrapping

September 19, 2015


When we worked on the Cork Marketing Project I was so proud and excited that all of the stakeholders were working so well together and that we made great progress towards our collective goal of attracting people and investment to Cork.

So many people told me this level of co-operation just wouldn’t happen in Cork and I genuinely didn’t believe them – I had faith!

Now I am deeply saddened to read in The Irish Examiner this morning about all of the opposing views and in particular today the bitter war of words between the Cork Chamber and the Cork Business Association as well as local politicians.

The Cork Chamber are “all for the merger” quoting the benefits of greater capacity and a unified voice and the Cork Business Association are against it declaring that you cannot ignore the strong advice that came through in the minority report by the two UCC members who were on the committee charged with making the recommendations in the first place!

Guys …this is really lousy for Cork!

I have my own strong opinions about what should be done but at this stage I don’t really care about my opinions or anyone else’s because I feel the process which was adopted with such monumental consequences for so many of us Corkonians was not fit for the huge purpose that it was intended for.

I have gone out of my way this week to find out more by talking to many of the people involved and everyone has deep rooted opinions, lots of suspicions and theories, very opposing views and I am definitely not seeing anything in place that will sort out this awful situation in the near future.

Personally I can’t believe the insubstantial make up of the CLRG committee (it lacks sufficient expertise), the research undertaken can be challenged too easily (I don’t believe the committee had sufficient time or resources to do this properly), there seems to have been very little ‘real‘ consultation and I can see issues with the recommendations as I understand them (Read my blog post – Cork Merger Drama).

Most significantly the minority report prepared by Prof Keogh and Dr. Theresa Reidy (effectively 50% of the committee excluding the Chairman) totally undermines the whole process and cannot be ignored. I believe this was sufficient grounds for not publishing the recommendations until their concerns were properly dealt with.

Even worse my understanding is that there is no mechanism in place to take the recommendations from the report (maybe there is huge merit in many of them?) and evaluate them robustly by people with the appropriate expertise, assessing the benefits and potential downfalls of each. In particular this assessment must deal with all of the valid concerns and issues raised by the various stakeholders in Cork who for many years have been representing our many and varied interests.

Their opinions, experience and expertise are too valuable to ignore.

If the process was robust with all aspects and arguments considered and with all parties brought along then we might start to get some understanding and agreement and only then, move positively into the future.

The last aspect is dealing with those directly affected, namely the many employees in Cork City and County Councils who also deserve a very robust process, which they can understand and believe in.

I don’t think for one moment that this will be all plain sailing or that we will end up with agreement on all sides but as with any change programme it should at least be both transparent and robust and it must bring people along carefully.

Hand Grenade

To summarise what has happened is that a poorly thought out grenade has been thrown into Cork by the Minister and his team, the pin has been removed far too quickly and we are the ones who will suffer as a result.

This process has already done huge damage to Cork and it has the potential to do even more if corrective action is not taken quickly.

My request to all of us including our Cork Politicians and our representative organisations is:

For the love of Cork can we please stop squabbling and instead focus on reversing this awful process with something robust that we can all believe in and one that will let us together move powerfully into the future”

We can’t afford to get left behind ..

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion PR, Marketing and Graphic Design, with offices in Cork and Dublin


Teamwork – Are we in this together?

September 14, 2015

Volunteers in Brooklyn after hurricane

It’s Saturday morning and I totally admit that we are slightly hungover and very tired after a fantastic party the night before in the office to celebrate our Fuzion 15th birthday.

Despite the torrential rain we had a great turnout of friends, clients, media and of course our team. The banter and fun was in full swing and a few of us headed to Brick Lane for a few more drinks and even a boogie or ten! Slices of pizza at Fast Al’s was a must before dragging our tired bodies home in a taxi at 3am ….you are only 15 once after all!

Unfortunately someone had to head to the office so that the audio visual crew and the caterers could collect their respective gear and then face into the big ‘tidy up‘ to transform our space back into an office.

My head was sore and I promise you I was not looking forward to this arduous, painful task but it had to be done and as it was a Saturday it was Deirdre and I who had to do it. Of course we would love help, of course we would love a few extra hands to lessen the load but it is Saturday and the team are off so we wouldn’t ask.

As ‘owners’ isn’t that what you do?

We parked up and dragged our bodies slowly to the office and then something incredible happened.

Aoibhinn, one of the senior members of the team was already there with her young son Noah and she was in full swing with the tidy up. That one set of extra hands, that willingness and that powerful gesture of taking ownership felt like 100 extra hands and it just blew both of us away and we had the job done in no time.

We own the business and we have a great team in Dublin and Cork that work hard with us from Monday to Friday. For 15 years we have worked really hard to build a good team spirit but its moments like this when someone takes ownership and does the unexpected that you feel you have a real team and you are actually in this together.

It felt good ..thank you Aoibhinn

PS – Knowing Aoibhinn she will hate me writing this!

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion PR, Marketing and Graphic Design 



Cork City and County – Merger drama!

September 10, 2015

Cork bridge

The report has been issued and in true ‘Cork‘ fashion it is a car crash of confusion and of course we couldn’t even get consensus among those on the small, tight evaluation panel!

A good friend of mine in Dublin who is in a position of authority in a powerful organisation tells me that “it’s pointless trying to get anything done in Cork because of the politics“.

This is sickening to listen to but is he right?

I eagerly awaited the reports in the local newspapers to try to get a grip on the issues and some sense of what is being recommended.

Maybe I am very simplistic on all of this but before delving into what they are saying we need to assess what we have currently in Cork:

  • A vast geographic area with a very definite large urban centre surrounded by a collection of rural towns and countryside
  • Urban issues and quite different rural issues to manage
  • A management structure where the city council is managing only part of the ‘effective‘ city and a county council which is managing a chunk of the ‘effective‘ city and a vast rural area with country towns
  • Two complete management structures with separate Chief Executives, Mayors and Councillors
  • One fantastic place that needs cohesive marketing with meagre resources (the best attribute of our city is the county and the best attribute of the county is our city)

So we have a real difference in types of issues, a real potential for duplication of overheads through two structures, politics at play and a hunger for power, history and how it has always been and a real need to pull together to achieve anything meaningful.

Alf Smiddy Alan Kelly, Cork City and Country Merger

I was hoping the recommendations would resolve this and before arriving at my own conclusions I wanted to soak up the feedback as it has been reported:

City Mayor Chris O’Leary reckons it relegates the status of the city – it will become one of ‘three divisions’ but with a larger better defined, more sensible catchment area

Micheal Martin, Fianna Fail leader  reckons the city will be marginalised and out voted – the overall Chief Executive will be in the County and the Deputy will be in the city, running one of three divisions

Cork Chamber of Commerce see it as being a “winning formula” but the Cork Business Association says it realises their “worst fears” …ah come on guys!! (Cork Chamber have a wider geographic spread than the Business association, which is mainly city centre, which probably explains the difference)

Ciaran Lynch, Labour TD feels it would “relegate the city to the status of a town council”

Significantly the two members of the CLRG  committee who vehemently oppose the merger (Prof Keogh and Dr. Theresa Reidy feel so strongly that they have produced their own minority report outlining their concerns)  state that “the two county divisions will be able to out vote the city” ..that’s not good I’m thinking!

Neither City or County Chief Executives are allowing themselves to be drawn on the matter but it is speculated that the more experienced County Chief Executive, Tim Lucey would get the senior role and Ann Doherty the City Chief Executive would become Deputy, with responsibility for the city.

The City Mayor, Chris O’Leary stated that the merger recommendations are “an insult to the people of Cork” – I’m not sure if too many would come up with that one in all fairness Chris!

When power and position are at stake it’s hard to believe anything that these guys will say – its logical that if they are losing something it is a travesty and if they are gaining then it will be the best thing since the sliced pan!

Even the ‘anti austerity‘ crew vowed to block the merger – basically they feel that urban working class communities will lose some of their clout

CIT welcomes the proposal and Cork County Council issued a statement saying “it would create jobs“. This is a funny one as if anything it should eliminate duplication.

The very wise, commercial and practical Alf Smiddy the Chairman of the process said things I would expect such as “more can be achieved with combined resources instead of divided responsibility” – ok, now someone is talking sense.

Cork County Hall Statue

It was now time for me to review the proposal to see where all this reaction was coming from.

  • One clear structure that achieves resource efficiency, eliminates duplication and creates a real synergy of purpose and intent would be fantastic for Cork – I’m not seeing this in what is recommended. I see divisions and power hubs.
  • One merged entity makes sense as long as we have a robust structure to manage this large area and one that takes into account the very different issues between our core urban centre and our rural areas – The proposal of three divisions, one city and two rural is sensible if these are management units and not power bases. This is not clear and I don’t like the word ‘divisions’.
  • The power structure (as opposed to management structure) between the divisions will cause big problems as they seem to be power bases with “votes” – the opposing members of the committee should really be listened to here
  • In my opinion the city must always be at the ‘core’ of the region and must not be relegated in any way to having a secondary voice. The urban area must be the economic driver and must never run the risk of being minimised in any way. This is not clear in the plan at all, which is a big worry.
  • Our region must be marketed as a cohesive region both to tourists and economically. Three divisions will not be a viable proposition and there must be a provision for one cohesive marketing team. I didn’t see this in the plan.
  • Politics and power games are clearly at play which will confuse all of the feedback
  • There is a lot of fuss being made of the Lord Mayor’s position in all of this – am I the only one who views them as just ‘nice’ figureheads?
  • It is clear that there are huge divisions and differences in opinion and we need to tease all of these out fully before we have any chance of moving forward

Based on what I have read and heard it is clear to me that there are major issues with the recommendations that cannot be ignored.

We need to put politics and power games aside, patiently work through all of these issues, address the real concerns and for once pull together as ‘Cork’ so that we can manage our fantastic place effectively and embrace all of the many opportunities that are available to us.

I want to prove my friend in Dublin wrong!

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion PR, Marketing and Graphic Design 




Take me to the LA Church!

September 5, 2015

Brendan Canty and Con Thomson, MTV VMA Awards

It’s been a huge whirlwind since we got the news that the Hozier video for “Take Me To Church” had been nominated for two MTV VMA awards.

The video was produced at the end of 2013 by Feel Good Lost, my son Brendan Canty and Con Thomson’s company, on a shoestring budget. The video catapulted this unknown singer and his fantastic song to international success and nearly 330 million views later, we find ourselves heading to the awards at The Staple Centre, home of the LA Lakers in Los Angeles.

Brendan and Con are the ‘talent’ so they got to experience the whole red carpet experience, while we had to go in a different door and sit a little further back in the audience. We were expecting a theatre full of the most fashion conscious, outrageous, “bling” people you could ever imagine but this wasn’t the case.

Of course we saw a bunch of ultra-chic ‘where is my catwalk’ fashionistas at the event but we also saw a big crowd of very ordinary-looking people who looked like they were going to the cinema!

The anticipation was building and the tweets were flying, with so many good wishes coming towards us from Cork and beyond, waiting to see if their huge success could be crowned even further.

Hozier couldn’t be there and he tweeted the best of luck to the guys – even though the public vote was restricted to the U.S. many had tipped ‘Take Me To Church‘ as a winner so we had to start dreaming!

We had a few chats beforehand about preparing a ‘winning speech’ or maybe two!

I was trying to picture my boy up there with the stars saying something very profound about how “with the right passion anything is possible”. Maybe if he had enough time he would thank his dad profoundly for being the inspiration in his life and Cork might even get a mention?!

The show started on cue and Miley Cyrus kicked off proceedings.

Miley Cyrus - MTV VMA

We saw performances by artists we had never heard of, we saw lots of different and very provocative outfits by Miley, we saw footage from tandem outdoor performances from Downtown LA and we saw some of the awards being presented in double quick time by people including Britney Spears.

There were breaks in the show every 15 minutes for TV adverts and stage preparation and there were even segments thanking the different sponsors. You knew this was a TV show first and foremost as everything seemed to be very rehearsed, even the banter and occasional exchange of insults between presenters.

Taylor Swift was clearly the darling of the night with a huge entourage and lots of attention and focus on her – at least she had the class to bring on stage her video director who made his own speech. He had definitely rehearsed what he was going to say.
I started thinking about Brendan and Con going up on stage to accept an award and make a speech without a ‘star’. I was starting to have serious doubts as to whether this would not make for good TV.

Justin Bieber MTV VMA

Justin Bieber starting crying after his emotional comeback performance – were those real tears?

Kanye West grabbed many of the headlines for his ten minute confusing ramble about… I’m not really sure to be honest! He must be the most influential person in the industry as all the VIPs stood up for his speech and unfortunately for them they felt they had to stay standing.

West was strangely nominated for an award and then went on to say how music awards are silly as no one should be there to be judged. To cap it all off he announced he was running for President in 2020. The breakfast chat with Kim will be interesting!

Miley Cyrus produced an accidental, totally on purpose revealing of her breast for the TV cameras, and then finished the night with a performance of her latest song.

We looked at each other and wondered… what about the awards we were there for?

We met with Brendan and Con who were just as confused. We discovered through twitter a band called Fall Out Boy had won Best Rock Video and were presented with that on the way into the show. Good video but it was watched 19 million times compared to the 330 million Hozier views ..I’m just saying!

We also discovered that a guy called Colin Tilley won the award for ‘Best Direction’ for the Kendrick Lamar video. Apparently they never present these technical awards at the show as it is bad for TV. Dazed and confused, our gang trooped off to an official ‘After Party’ at a place called Henrys in West Hollywood but this 50-year-old was just too tired and managed one drink and called it a day.

Los Angeles is a fantastic, unexpectedly friendly place, full of surprise and diversity and with an incredible amount to see and do. It is a place where anything is possible and anyone can become a star and even a bunch of Cork lads can walk the red carpet!

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion PR, Marketing and Graphic Design 

MTV VMA Awards – Anything is possible !

August 29, 2015

MTV VMA AwardsAre you here on business or pleasure?” Is the question we have been asked over and over since we arrived in LA.

Oh, we are here for the MTV VMA awards. My son has been nominated for two awards for the Hozier video, Take me to the Church” is my response, to the hotel staff, the taxi drivers, the barmen and even to the very serious airport security team!

These surreal words come out of my mouth and in ways I have to keep on saying them to believe them myself.

Invariably we get a “that’s fantastic” or “that’s incredible” or my personal favourite is “that’s awesome” which only the Americans can carry off properly!

LA is a much better place than I was expecting. It is a colossal mix of cultures with people on every end of the social spectrum. On the immaculate Santa Monica beach we passed all shapes and sizes of people, we were entertained by excellent buskers and we watched old fishermen on the pier.

We were passed by David and Victoria Beckham’s three children on their motorised devices while behind them a young woman rummaged through a bin. Sadly we saw plenty of that.

I heard Steven Gerrard remark recently that in LA he can go out in public without being disturbed – here they seem to take no notice of either the stars or the most organised of beggars that you will ever see.

Anything is Possible!

When asked we tell people about the Hozier video that was made in Cork for a budget that literally wouldn’t pay for our highly discounted ‘industry’ tickets for the awards ceremony.

Brendan Canty and Conal Thompson - Feel Good Lost

Brendan Canty, my son and his partner in Feel Good Lost, Conal Thomson produced a powerful video for a great song that had been in the public domain for quite a while. Like so many other great songs it had gone unnoticed. Within days of being uploaded on YouTube the video went viral and this great song finally got the attention it deserved.

Anything is possible!

Over 330 million views later, Hozier is an international phenomenon and while he always gives credit to Brendan and Con the MTV VMA awards is the first time that their work has been officially recognised.

On our second night in LA with Brendan and Con we got to meet the very talented singer songwriter Gavin James from Cabra in Dublin. I predict that this terrific guy who has been signed by Capital Records in the U.S. will be a huge success. This down to earth guy who has a voice from heaven has just done a tour with Sam Smith in the U.S.

Gavin James

We had great fun talking about releasing a cover version of the old song by Cork band, Sultans of Ping, “Where’s My Jumper?“. He knew the words !!

Anything is possible!

He told me he is living and loving the dream but does miss his family and friends. Feel Good Lost did the video for his last single “For You” and are planning his next one.

Despite doing his video Brendan and Gavin had never met or even spoken before now. This is sadly how it goes when you move up the success ladder – there are loads of intermediaries and handlers who get involved in the process, which is after all, big business.

We chatted with Gavin about this and we all agreed that this shouldn’t happen as the ‘magic‘ can easily get lost when too many get involved – simple lesson for all of us!

While we have been here Brendan had meetings …. wait for this, in Beverly Hills and in Hollywood no less! He is now represented worldwide by a London agency called Academy Films and they organised meetings for him here.

He made all of this happen for himself  – he approached his ‘dream‘ agencies with his show reel, organised follow meetings and was signed up. With the right will..

Anything is possible!

We received our instructions about collecting our show tickets. The MTV team had taken temporary office space in the Marriot hotel next to the Staples Centre, home of the LA Lakers, where the awards will take place.

The excitement is well and truly building as we collected our tickets and hospitality passes. Brendan and Con (and hopefully us at the after parties) will be rubbing shoulders with music heavyweights including Miley Cyrus (must ask her how Billy Ray is !), Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars, Kanye West (regards to the wife!) and Britney Spears.

Anything is Possible!

On Sunday Brendan and Con will be on the Red Carpet from 3:30pm (LA is 8 hours behind Ireland) with the ‘talent’. Unfortunately we have to go in another door!

The ‘show’ starts at 6pm,

This journey has been incredible and will continue to be I have no doubt.

When Brendan volunteered for ‘Seven brides for seven brothers‘ in transition year in secondary school it introduced him to a new circle of friends and ignited the possibility of a different career path. During the weekends and summer breaks Brendan and the guys filmed a few comedies, which were really quite good.

He chose the multimedia course in Cork Institute of Technology and then threw himself into bucket loads of projects including speculative pro-bono work, which eventually led to paying work.

There were many little steps and random projects that brought him to the Hozier video and a lot of exciting work since then including videos for Gavin James and even producing adverts for Gas Networks Ireland.

You might call him lucky to be in LA but in truth Brendan works incredibly hard, he constantly perfects his craft, he builds fantastic contacts and relationships and he is very careful (I always think too careful – you must make some money Brendan!) to only work on projects he believes in.

The most impressive aspect of LA that I have experienced is the attitude here.

Our friendly UBER taxi driver, Indy from Indonesia summed it up best for us.

In LA, no matter who you are – Anything is Possible

The MTV VMA awards are on the 30th August, 2015.

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion PR, Marketing and Graphic Design 


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