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 

“Staff wanted” and huge little details

August 26, 2015

Liberty Grill Cork

I was having a birthday breakfast with my fantastic daughter, Ellen in one of our favourite spots in Cork, Liberty Grill. This extremely busy spot is run by Denis O’Mullane who is an experienced and terrific operator.

As always the place was busy and as we finished our ‘treat‘  breakfast I noticed a sign they had behind the counter advertising for a ‘Super Barista‘ to join their team.

This sign wasn’t a hand written sign sellotaped to the wall, it wasn’t a typed up A4 page and nor was it a self designed A4 laminated page with some clip art.

The sign was a simple, well designed, attractive poster, which was in keeping with the look and feel of the place. It was professional and for me it made a huge statement about Liberty Grill.

Liberty Grill recruitment

This recruitment poster screamed professionalism and it sent a big message to anyone considering applying for the job and to all customers who frequent the place:

Liberty Grill wants the very best staff to serve the very best food and beverages

This sign was an inconvenient choice – It would have taken time to organise with their graphic designer and it cost more to produce than a standard poster but someone at Liberty Grill felt that this extra effort and cost was more than worth it.

A simple recruitment sign can speak volumes about your place.

The small details are always huge details…coffee anyone?

Greg Canty 

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

Artisan and things we believe in

August 16, 2015

Artisan cheeses

Many years ago (in the late eighties/early nineties) I was the general manager of a Guinness owned company in Cork called Deasy’s. We manufactured soft drinks and we distributed beer and soft drinks to pubs, off licences and shops in Cork and Kerry.

We took great pride in our own soft drinks, which to this day are still fondly remembered by people in Cork. Our Deasy’s Orange and Red lemonade were big favourites. Well before my time they even manufactured their own beers and there was one called Wrestler (pronounced ‘rastler’), which people used mention to me.

For years we had been accepting falling volumes in our own soft drinks sales as there was a well accepted principle that it was all about ‘big brands‘ and that these would eventually wipe out all the other smaller brands. The belief was that there was nearly no point in trying with your own products.

As a former accountant for the company I could see the big margins and profitability that these products contributed compared to the products we bought in from other suppliers and I couldn’t see the logic in just letting them drift so we took a different approach.

Guinness - Pension Dispute

We felt that the branding had gone stale and did not reflect the quality of the products so we rebranded including an upgrade of all the packaging. We investigated in an advertising campaign and we also introduced an incentive programme for the customers.

Immediately the results started to shine through with increased volumes but there was also a renewed energy with the sales team who took great pride in their own products and were motivated by us investing in them. The sales pitch to the trade was relatively easy – they were manufactured locally using the best of ingredients and the quality was superb. However many still preferred the big well known brands such as Club Orange and Schweppes.

In a way we were selling ‘artisan‘ products at the time except we didn’t have this label for them and in any case it would not have been the selling point that it is today.

Sadly Deasy’s was merged into another larger Guinness subsidiary a few years later and the manufacturing plant was shut down and these much loved brands were allowed to disappear without a trace.

Phil Cullen Mountain Man Brewing

The Artisan Era

Now we are all about ‘artisan‘ products.

Artisan is defined as “a person or company that makes a high-quality or distinctive product in small quantities, usually by hand or using traditional methods“.

These now trendy products are unique, special, something made with loving care and most importantly they are something that we can believe in. We believe that these products are superior in quality and in some ways we can even accept little imperfections as they can confirm the somewhat ‘homemade‘ attributes that prove we are not consuming products that are mass produced. Retailers who are sharp make themselves unique and believable by stocking ‘artisan’ products, which adds to their overall offering.

Artisan is so much in vogue (and selling!) now that even large companies are trying to make us believe that their products are also artisan – check out the recent Guinness adverts for example.

Guinness advert

I strongly believe that one of the reasons for the popularity of artisan products is that when the recession kicked in there was a huge rejection of the ‘excess‘ that was so prevalent during the Celtic Tiger.

We desperately wanted to get back to things that were real and authentic; this included our food, our drinks, our restaurants, pubs and even our service providers no matter who they are. We had lost faith in so many things that we needed to be able to believe once again.

No matter what you do, try to give your customers an artisan service

Greg Canty 

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

 

 

Can you do our social media for us?

August 12, 2015

setting the bird free

Of course we can look after your social media content for you but I must say a very loud BUT ..

Content

To be meaningful it requires you/whoever in your organisation to take the time to provide us with good content on a regular basis, which you will find often takes as much time as doing the actual posting.

Let us show you how.

Spontaneity

Up to the minute, perfectly timed updates are nearly always lost when you pass the responsibility of posting to someone external – we won’t see your team getting ready for an event, we can’t react when you spot something relevant in the media, we can’t see the chef preparing something in the kitchen or spot that funny/unusual thing that can be photographed or posted as it happens.

Let us show you how.

Interaction

For us the real magic with social media is the interaction with other strategic accounts and customers (in particular with twitter) – get this right and you achieve much greater reach, you develop powerful relationships and connections and your posts will be more effective and genuine.

Let us show you how.

Solution..

So if you feel uncomfortable with social media but you still want to achieve the maximum benefits from it what do you do?

Lets start by trying to find a few champions internally who know and understand the business. Then we will train them including clearly outlining the objectives, the guidelines, the protocol and all the necessary knowhow and only when ready we will give them the relevant access to each social media platform depending on their role.

We can support them each step of the way until they are ready to fly alone.

Let us show you how.

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion offer Social Media Consultancy and Training in Dublin and Cork

Back to Italy and habits that die hard

August 10, 2015

italian water

Here I go again … I’m sitting on the plane on the runway at Cork Airport before takeoff to Italy. It’s a little crazy as we have to fly via Amsterdam!

I press play on my iPod to listen to my ‘Easy Learn Italian‘ … I get as far as the part where I can order wine or beer and that’s it.

Enthusiastically I love trying what I have learnt when I get there and 90% of the time the Italians answer me back in English – this deflates me in particular after spending hours listening to the lessons!

I don’t know how many times we have gone to Italy and each time I go through this routine and every time the result is exactly the same. Listen to the lessons, try my Italian, they answer back in English and my crew laugh at me.

Why do we keep doing the same thing and expect a different result?

I better get back to my lessons.. Ciao!

Greg Canty 

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

 

Defamation and your reputation

August 8, 2015

Defamation

This week we had to deal with a potential defamation scenario for a client because of some of their online activity.

In this case they had received a solicitors letter accusing them of defamation because of something that they had posted in a personal blog post. This whole area is very interesting because it deals with the most valuable of assets,”your reputation” and it also had the element of online, which makes it even more intriguing.

Your Reputation

Your good reputation is one of the most precious assets that you have and it is in your interest to protect it at all costs. A good reputation is built up over time and it comes about from how you conduct all aspects of your business including the delivery of your products and services, how you treat your customers, your suppliers and your team and how you interact with the general public.

A good reputation will win you business, it will attract customers who will want to do business with you and it will give suppliers, banks, investors and landlords that necessary trust so they are happy to deal with you. If something does go wrong, as things often do then a good reputation will protect you because people will know that you are to be trusted and that whatever has happened you will sort it out.

A lot of the work we do with clients can be described as reputation management. We work hard to ensure that all the great things that our clients do are publicised and if potentially damaging incidents occur then we make sure that these situations are carefully managed so that any damage is limited.

A reputation often takes many years to build, but this can be destroyed easily in just moments by circumstances.

Defamation

Because your reputation is such a precious asset it is only right that their is legal protection available to you, should anyone ever defame you.

We have found that defamation can be quite a misunderstood term as many feel that it applies whenever someone ‘says something bad about you‘  which is certainly not the case.

A few elements must normally be in place for something to be deemed as ‘defamation’:

Precise information – You must know exactly what has been said or publicised about you and be able to demonstrate this.

Clearly identified – The parties claiming to be defamed must be clearly identified in the offending publication.

False statements – It can only be deemed as defamation if what has been said is largely untrue. You might not like what is being said about you but if it is true this is not defamation!

Publication – It is only deemed as defamation if the publication of the remarks was relatively wide. Being overheard by a few people would not be enough.

Defamation

Online dimension

The online environment makes this whole area even more complicated.

Does a post on a blog or on someone’s social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn carry as much weight as an article in a newspaper, some other publication or a comment on radio or TV? If I have 6,000 followers on twitter and someone else has 100 is a false statement by me a bigger misdemeanour?

It’s all a question of distribution and how many people may have seen or heard the false statements and then someone has the tricky job of assessing how much potential damage has been done by the false statement.

Another tricky dimension with the online environment is that if others make defamatory comments about someone on your ‘platform’ (blog/discussion board) then you could be liable as you did not remove the offending posts.

Defamation is a notoriously difficult area of law so even when all the elements are in place anyone considering a case in this area must have deep pockets and lots of time on their hands before considering legal action. (Check out some of the cases that have been tried in Ireland).

Our client

With the scenario that we had to deal with this week none of the critical elements were in place so our client had nothing to worry about and certainly nothing that would damage their own reputation – in fact it was quite the opposite.

In this case one of the people involved had written a blog post about the personal impact of an incident whereby they had been seriously wronged. They never once mentioned who the offending party were in their post and they were 100% truthful in what they had said.

Ironically the offending party ‘recognised’ themselves in the post and cried ‘foul’ and immediately ran to their solicitors who were happy to claim defamation, which it clearly was not. In this case the solicitor should have known better than to make such an incorrect and unprofessional accusation – is this a defamatory comment?

I’m always amused to see how it’s nearly always the ‘offenders’ who get most vigorous about protecting their rights!

Your good reputation is hard earned and it is a precious asset of huge value to your business. The best advice is to manage your reputation carefully so no one ever has a reason to say something bad about you.

If someone is making false, damaging accusations about you then you do have a legal mechanism but make sure that all the right elements are in place before going down this potentially costly and distracting road.

Your good reputation is everything.

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Reputation Management and Crisis PR services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Don’t win at all costs..

August 5, 2015

Palio - Brendan Canty

Once again we found ourselves in Siena (one of the most beautiful cities on this earth) in Tuscany, Italy for the Palio (one of the best events I have ever been to) this summer.

The Palio is a bareback horse race, which happens at the beginning and the end of the summer. In truth it is a whole lot more than that and when you come to Siena to witness this incredible event you will know what I mean the minute you get here. You will sense it, you will feel it – there is something electric and tribal about it that will move you.

The Palio is essential to the Sienese. The city is divided into 17 districts (‘contrade’) and the Sienese place their loyalty to their district above church or state. Fierce rivalries exist between the neighbouring districts and all Sienese are united year round by their passion to win the Palio.

Palio - Siena

I took this text from a website about The Palio:

Imagine that all Liverpool and Everton fans had been baptised in the church of their team and lived as near neighbours their whole lives. Imagine that their neighbourhoods had been enemies for hundreds of years but only got to compete against each other once or twice a year. Imagine if the players and the ball were blessed in their churches before every match and the centre of the city came to a standstill for a week beforehand  – now you begin to understand the intense and passionate civic rivalry that animates the Palio

The Palio is a year-long strategic battle culminating in two annual events. Each and every Sienese is involved in the Palio in some way; the result of what may seem like ‘just a horse race’ is in fact glory or despair for those who live here. It has been this way since medieval times.

In the Palio, ten hired jockeys (each representing a Contrade or district) race bareback at breakneck speed around a dirt track, whipping each other in a game where anything goes as long as you win and the greatest disgrace is to come second. It’s not uncommon for many of the horses to lose their jockeys during the race – a horse without a rider can still win!  The Palio itself may be over in 90 seconds but the impact makes history”.

You can see that winning means everything to every man, woman and child in Siena who come out in force to cheer on and celebrate the fortunes of their jockey and horse.

However this is not as straight forward as it seems.

Palio - Siena

This year we spent some time with a local who explained to us that huge money goes into the Palio by each of the districts – this goes on wages for the jockeys and their training but it also goes on bribes and other shenanigans. It is now part of the ritual that the jockey might pay another competing jockey to ‘block‘ or interfere with one of their rival districts in exchange for a fee.

He told us that last year one of the jockeys did a ‘double backhanded deal‘ , which was discovered afterwards by his Contrade and as a result he ended up spending 3 months in hospital from a beating!

Palio - massimo-columbu-al-palio-di-siena

We enjoyed the few rehearsal days and then watched the final and as usual the race was over in 90 seconds. I was astounded to see one of the jockeys in front of 60,000 people and in the full glare of TV spend all of his energy wrestling another ‘rival’ jockey off his horse instead of concentrating on winning himself. In any other sport this would be automatic disqualification and a lifetime ban – with the Palio it just seems to be a normal part of the race.

The offending jockey had no interest in winning and all he wanted to do was to make sure that his rival did not win. Somehow the point of this race has been lost and yet it tells a huge truth, which we all see everyday.

With competitors when bitter rivalry sets in you need to be very careful because you might never win yourself.

Greg Canty 

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

 

 

 

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


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