Archive for the ‘PR’ Category

Crisis, What Crisis?

April 18, 2014

Supertramp - Crisis, What Crisis?

Little did I know that in 1977 when I was listening to ground breaking music with our very cool Spanish summer student that years later some of this would continue to make an impact.

I was just 12 years of age and I was listening to music by fabulous bands and artists such as ELO, Lou Reed, Supertramp and Bob Dylan.

That summer we listened to some incredible albums including Face the Music (ELO), Even in the Quietest Moments (Supertramp), Street Hassle (Lou Reed) and one that always stuck in my mind was Crisis, What Crisis? by Supertramp.

I loved the name of the album, the cover was really cool and the music lived up to the promise.

My passion for music kicked off that summer so much so that I ended up opening my own music stores (I reckon I made a lot of landlords wealthy!) in my twenties and now we find ourselves often operating in the Crisis business.

Crisis PR

Much of our normal PR work is planned out in advance with our clients having clear communication objectives – its our job to secure media coverage to achieve these objectives.

With Crisis PR work you can get a call on a Sunday, which requires you to drop everything that you are doing and jump into action for an organisation that requires immediate help to deal with a situation. These situations are always different, they require clever thinking on your feet and inevitably they are very fluid, often changing by the minute.

Sometimes an organisation has the benefit of some advance warning where they have prior knowledge of something that could happen, which they know may require careful handling with the media and other stakeholders.

Over the last number of years this seems to have been an area of our business, which has grown and grown. We have recruited deliberately to give a great service in this area as our team now includes ex-journalists, individuals with political communication experience, individuals who provide media training and others with significant TV experience.

We also find that our expertise in social media is vital in a crisis situation as you can track issues, mentions and sentiment about the issue. This helps greatly with our media communications as you can gauge the temperature of an issue and use this information to often correct misunderstandings.

Crisis Planning

Just like you take out an insurance policy to protect against risk it is a really good idea to have a plan in place to prepare your organisation for a crisis situation.

No organisation can afford to hide in a crisis as it has the potential to damage relationships with clients and stakeholders, wreak havoc with an organisation’s reputation, seriously effect revenue and in some cases lead to closure. Social media in particular can accelerate the speed and damage from a crisis situation.

We work with our clients in advance of any potential crisis, planning such things as:-

  • Reactive Statements
  • Preparing spokespeople, including Media Training
  • Monitoring traditional and online media
  • Devising a plan that will be put into place should a potential crisis become a reality
  • Developing an Internal Communications Strategy to include communications to relevant stakeholders
  • Crisis Social Media Strategy

Hopefully you will never need our Crisis PR services but if that ever happens you know we are ready…

Greg Canty

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

Oscar Pistorius and the Paddy Power PR Win

March 4, 2014

Oscar Pistorius Paddy Power advert

One thing is for sure – it has us all talking!

Was this the obvious objective when Paddy Power cobbled together their latest advertising stunt?

Just in case you have missed it, Paddy Power are taking bets on the Oscar Pistorius murder trail against his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. They caused outrage initially by offering odds on the outcome of the premeditated murder trial – 7/4 for a guilty verdict and 2/5 for not guilty.

Not only does this stunt interfere and shape public opinion about the verdict of the court case, there was also an immediate public reaction with many Twitter users branding the gimmick ‘vile’ and ‘disgusting’.

Paddy Power then took things even further, by offering losing bets a refund if the 27-year-old is found not guilty. This “no lose” offer for customers was featured heavily on newspaper adverts adding even further fuel to this controversial fire, demonstrating that Paddy Power didn’t really care about the negative public and media reaction.

Not only has Twitter been on fire about the issue but newspapers and radio have given the “bet” extra momentum through extensive negative coverage.

On national radio, RTE Liveline, Paddy Power defended the move to take bets on the trial: “This is the biggest profile trial that has ever been. It’s the only topic of conversation around the world. It’s to provide customers with the opportunity to bet on something that everyone is talking to.”

It sounds as if they are doing us all a huge favour by allowing us to take bets on such an event – are we that desperate?

The Advertising Standards Authority in the UK have already reacted though their official Twitter account: “We’re fast tracking a formal investigation into the Paddy PowerOscar Pistorius‘ ad. No need to lodge a complaint, we’re looking into it” .

There is also a campaign running on change.co with 117,000 people already (at the time of writing) who have signed a petition to Patrick Kennedy, MD of Paddy Power to “please remove your offensive betting on the outcome of the Oscar Pistorius trial and donate any profits so far to a women’s charity fighting violence against women

Despite all of this the Paddy Power adverts continue to run and the company defends them under the heading of “customer service”.

Oscar Pistorius

The horrible truth is this is a huge awareness victory for Paddy Power, way beyond the cost of the adverts or any payouts for winning bets. Sadly the bigger a storm we make of the issue the more attention we draw to Paddy Power and the more traffic will be pushed towards their website.

If this negative publicity was deemed to be damaging to the Paddy Power reputation you can be assured it would be retracted immediately but I am guessing that the view from within the company is that the publicity is good because the belief is that the target betting audience isn’t that bothered.

The women’s groups and the general public can be outraged all they want but as long as the campaign helps the company to attract the betting fraternity this is one of those times when any publicity is good publicity.

However, while the campaign appears as a clever win for Paddy Power it does leave a bitter after-taste, which in the long run could undermine the brand alongside the flawed Olympic star who at one point could do no wrong.

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

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

Make sharing easy

November 24, 2013

Cork City Ballet

We were lucky enough to be at the Saturday night finale of the Ballet Spectacular Gala at Cork Opera House celebrating  21 years of the Cork City Ballet Company.

I’m not a ballet fanatic by any stretch of the imagination – if anything I’ve been more than a little bit ignorant about ballet and I was pleasantly surprised by such a fantastic night of fabulous music and dancing. Watching such incredible athletes perform gracefully on stage in such a polished production at a fabulous venue was a real treat.

Playboy of the Western World - Cork Ballet Company

To hear “Ride On” by Christy Moore being played in a dance scene during the Playboy of the Western World segment was very special.

In truth I ended up going to the ballet as a result of some random interactions on Twitter with the Cork City Ballet company (@corkcityballet) – I had so much fun and banter back and forth with them online that I just couldn’t possibly miss it!

Ballerina Erina Takahashi from English National Ballet and her partner Yosvani RamosThose attending Alan Foley’s production were also treated to two special segments delivered by some of the world stars of ballet including Prima Ballerina Lucia Lacarra and her partner Marlon Dino and another world-class Ballerina Erina Takahashi from the English National Ballet and her partner Yosvani Ramos.

At the end of the performance, Artistic Director of Cork City Ballet, Alan Foley spoke passionately to the audience about the challenge of operating a ballet for 21 years in a relatively small and unknown city (from a ballet perspective) and on a shoe string budget – well done Alan!

While we were sitting in the fabulous theatre waiting on the curtains to open I was wondering how I hadn’t seen people sharing pictures from the Thursday and Friday night performances on Facebook and Twitter.

All was revealed when the public announcer stated that the performance was about to begin and added “the taking of photo’s and recordings of the performance is strictly forbidden“.

Was this a Cork Opera House rule, a Cork City Ballet rule, some restriction that the star performers insist on or does the taking of photos genuinely interfere with the performers? (I did take a sneaky pic at the very end, which is at the top of this piece).

While many won’t like it and will tut tut (that nearly read like a tutu!) all of this social media stuff, many of us do like to share our life experiences and maybe instead of prohibiting photo’s they should be doing the exact opposite and encouraging them.

Maybe on the intro screen before the show starts show the hashtag #CorkBallet, gently reminding and even encouraging the audience to share their experience of the show online and help it to trend bringing it to the attention of so many others.

If that doesn’t work during the show either allow photos at the end of each segment or let the performers present themselves after the show for photos with guests – can you imagine the excitement of people getting their photos with the gorgeous stars. These would proudly appear on so many Facebook and Twitter accounts and at the same time promote the shows.

The lucky Thursday audience would have shared their experience encouraging their friends and online followers to buy tickets for the Friday and Saturday performances. The Friday audience would encouraged ticket sales for Saturday and the Saturday audience will have their friends and online followers saying “damn, we should have gone – next year we’ll definitely go“.

The Cork City Ballet Spectacular was indeed quite spectacular but should it be made easier for even more people to find out about it? – they would have loved it and Alan and his team might have a few more quid in the coffers for next year!

If you have a great place or a great event …make sharing easy!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion with offices in Cork and Dublin in Ireland offer social media training and consultancy services

Balancing those debits and credits!

November 11, 2013

Work, Life Balance

Where did that time go?

31 years ago this boy was a raw, innocent 18 year old working as a junior accountant in a mid sized accountancy practice on the South Mall in Cork. At this stage I was two months into my apprentice and I was learning the basics.

Ironically, I had done Economics and Business Organisation in secondary school so Accounting was brand new to me!

For every debit there had to be a corresponding credit was the golden rule – if you got that, your accounts would always balance. If they didn’t balance something was wrong and you had to search for your mistake.

It’s probably easier for everyone now with the computers and the accountancy packages – we had to do it all manually with ledgers in my day. Imagine trying to dig through that lot to find where you went wrong..

I was in practice for 6 years and then went onto industry and eventually swapped the accountancy role for a general management one and that was the official end of my debits and credits (except for my own projects at least).

That debits and credits discipline always stood to me and I do think accountancy and the privilege of working with so many businesses at at a young age was the best business degree anyone I could ever hope for.

You listen and learn from clients, you understand the drivers of their businesses and you use your expertise to help them. In many ways I do exactly the same now except the expertise is quite different and I don’t have to worry about those debits and credits.

The strange thing is that life is full of debits and credits and it too must balance and if it doesn’t something is wrong.

I’ve been working hard all morning …. head out for a nice coffee

My crew work their socks off ….  take them for lunch on Friday

I’ve been stuck in that proposal for hours …. time for a stroll and fresh air

We’ve been working hard all year …. where will we go for our Christmas party?

Work, work, work …. spend time with friends, meet the kids, visit the folks

Busy doing stuff for everyone else …. get tickets for that gig

I’ve been working my socks off all year …. maybe a new car at the start of the year?

Whatever you do today make sure you balance your books!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

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

The Single Biggest PR Tip – Never Waste a Good Story

August 7, 2013

Great Story

From all of the work we do with clients and our collective experience and expertise we can offer you one simple piece of advice about PR, one Golden Nugget that you need never look past..

“Never waste a Good Story”

This is a really simple guiding principle to apply, no books or no huge science required, just a straight forward case of Never Waste a Good Story.

Bring PR onto your business agenda, into your plans and objectives, into your management meetings – Ask the question “Do you have any good stories that should not be wasted?”

Once you realise you have a good story and you’ve decided you don’t want to waste it, that’s where the process, the science and the fun starts..

Get that story out there!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion 

Fuzion are a PR firm in Ireland with offices in Cork and Dublin

Is your credit controller losing you business?

July 29, 2013

Dirty Harry

Collecting money from customers must be one of the toughest and most awful jobs that you have to do in business.

I remember when I was in the drinks industry years ago we had a full time credit controller and I really believe that the nature of her role made her age really quickly. She was the one who had to stop deliveries to slow paying accounts (often this meant a battle with the sales reps and the sales manager) and she had to deal with irate customers.

The poor woman was sick quite a lot and I really put this down to the stressful role she had.

In particular in a small business it can be even more difficult when often the person who does the selling is the same person that does the collecting.

We received an email last week from a supplier who was looking for payment. Payment ran a few days over the standard terms because I was on leave and hadn’t left enough signed cheques. This was no bother and we sorted a cheque out immediately, a few days later than usual.

What really bothered me was the nature of the email, the tone, the lack of manners and a total lack of respect for us – after all we are a customer and to be honest a good one who gives them plenty of business and we do adhere to the payment terms.

My gut reaction was to change suppliers, which I did not do. However, a phone call from a similar supplier pitching their wares at the right moment and I would be listening actively.

I Love Credit ControlThis email was a real pity because the supplier is generally great to deal with. My crew are forever praising them and I know would kill me if I dropped them to use someone else.

I sent the credit controller an email and politely took issue with her manner and explained how it does jeopardise the business that they are doing with us and probably other customers of theirs.

I was speaking to another business owner who explained to me that they have an automated “email writing” system to deal with their credit control. He says often people get irate about the emails they receive because the language used is very blunt and to the point.

I received an automated letter from my bank recently more or less telling me to get my accounts in order as a dormant current account had run €2.50 overdrawn as a result of bank charges ..lovely!

How you collect money is an essential  part of your business reputation and while you have to get paid for the work you do it is important that you do this with courtesy and manners, never undermining your good reputation and all of your hard work.

You don’t need to give any customer an excuse to consider moving to a competitor.

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

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

Celebrity Twitter Etiquette/Power

July 14, 2013

Lucinda Creighton

@LCreighton “well done for standing by your principles – we need more of that and not less in govt. You will be back” 

I don’t know Lucinda Creighton, I don’t have full knowledge of her arguments but I do admire that she stood by her principles on an important, high profile piece of legislation. She didn’t fall in with her political party on a crucial vote and as a result she had to resign.

I sent the above tweet (you can do this once you have her twitter ID, which is easily found by doing a simple search on twitter) just to acknowledge the stand she took – I gave her a public compliment.

A tweet goes a long way ….. or in some cases just an acknowledgement goes an even longer way.

With twitter, when it comes to individual users I guess there are two broadly different types of users:

  • Celebrities and personalties (I would include some politicians in this category) who naturally attract a larger following than they would follow themselves
  • You and me!

You and me are the mere mortals who pick away, follow people and organisations we are interested in and if we want to build a following we need to publish interesting content, we need to be polite, engage in twitter conversations and generally apply a degree of etiquette with our activity.

This might include acknowledging people who have followed you, following people back, thanking people for positive posts and replying to people who have mentioned you in a post.

As part of your “nice guy/gal” routine you might retweet worthy posts and when someone retweets something for you then you thank them.

The actions here tend to be quite reciprocal – if you are good to someone then you tend to get the favour returned (there are always exceptions!)

Celebrity Factor

Stephen FryWhen there is some “celebrity” factor with a twitter user these normal rules do not apply.

This kicks in when this person is popular because of the role they hold (singer, actor, sportsperson, media person or even a politician) – more people will naturally follow them by nature of their “celebrity” factor and as a result popularity (size of following) does not depend on them behaving in the reciprocal way that applies to the rest of us.

A celebrity (using our broad definition) can effectively build a large follower base on twitter without following, interacting or acknowledging anyone.

However there are clever celebrities online (I’m suspecting this reflects their personality) who really get it.

They understand the huge power that they have at their disposal and they know how to utilise it – the good ones will do this naturally with no agenda and as a result they will excel and achieve something most of  the other “celebrities” will waste and over the long run actually do themselves possible reputational damage.

If a celebrity has a huge number of followers who are posting incessantly it is very difficult for them to engage but with smaller numbers of followers they can accelerate their popularity and like-ability by doing a few simple things:

  • Reply to positive posts – “thank you for the kind words” or even “thank you for all the kind words of support I received tonight” . The acknowledgment can be done directly to the individual (this is the best) or a general one – “Guess who came back to me on my post?” you can imagine the person saying to pals when their favourite celebrity replied to them
  • Favourite positive posts – simply click that “favourite” button to acknowledge that the post meant a lot
  • Retweet the positive post – hit that RT button and in a sweep highlight the positive post and deliver a huge acknowledgement to the person who posted it
  • Follow the person –  this is the ultimate compliment to the person who posted positive things
  • Surprise tweet – keep an eye on favourable tweets about you (just do a simple search on your name) and if you have the time thank them or make some comment – this tip is compliments of my son who says it works great with some of the bands he works with

By doing a few simple things the “celebrity” could accelerate their popularity and positive reputation and very easily win a loyal fan for life (most will not do this, which presents an even bigger opportunity for those who do)

Rachel AllenI have noticed online that a few celebrities in particular are quite good.

Rachel Allen @rachelallen1 has been good to come back on a compliment. Brian Kennedy @kennedysinger came back on a positive post after a gig as well as Mundy @mundyirl, Mark Geary @MG212 (better on Facebook) and Richie Egan (Jape)  @richiejape.

All of these by being respectful and clever are high in my estimation.

I have noticed a few that have been quite poor including the fabulous musician Gemma Hayes @gemma_hayes and the Newstalk breakfast team Chris Donoghue @chrisdonoghue and Norah Casey @norahcasey (this is strange as they always make a big deal of their twitter presence).

I listen to their show every morning and instead of giving themselves the opportunity of building their brand loyalty they are undermining it by ignoring listeners who tweet them. I’m sure if they realised the negative effect and the opportunity missed by not being more proactive they would be more responsive.

Lucinda Creighton had a busy day today and we can excuse her but she does have the power to considerably enhance her reputation by replying to the many people who said positive things about her and those who wished her well.

Celebrities …it’s up to you!

You and me….we have no excuse – we have to do the hard work.

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

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

Flying solo or wearing the team shirt?

April 13, 2013

LinkedIn Posting

I don’t want them as one of my contacts” he said “why should I?”

I was in the middle of a social media training session with the team from one of our clients and it looks like we stumbled upon an awkward moment!

During these sessions I carefully work with the full team and we determine carefully what the objectives are for their social media activity.

The team had agreed that “raising awareness” for what the organisation does was a big issue and they were going to use social media pro-actively as a vehicle to spread the word.

We were in the middle of a practical session on LinkedIn and we discovered that the person whose account we were using for demonstration purposes had a large number of ignored connection requests.

But I don’t know them”  he said

Here you have people wanting to connect with you and you are ignoring them” I explained ..”not only are you losing an opportunity to connect and spread the word but you are giving the organisation a bad reputation by ignoring people

Hmm … The room was silent, he wasn’t budging!

How about, accept the requests, thank them for connecting and ask them how their business is going ?” ….. “after all, it’s not a marriage proposal” – I was trying my best!

Nope … nothing doing.

I had done enough talking and cajoling for one session so I left it – at the end of the day it is up to each organisation to set a policy for their use of LinkedIn.

The thing with LinkedIn is that people don’t connect with Greg Canty , they connect with Greg Canty, Partner with Fuzion. You and your role in the organisation are locked together as part of your identity.

The team may argue that their LinkedIn presence is their personal space – while this is true they are also wearing the team shirt and should turn up and play for the team.

What do you think ?

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion with offices in Cork and Dublin offer social media training and consultancy in Ireland

Trust, the Restaurant and the customers who forgot to pay

March 20, 2013

Caravan Park

The couple arrived back at the Irish camp site and realised that they had left the restaurant without paying their bill.

They told the camp site manager who rang the restaurant and spoke to the manager of the restaurant – “no problem, thanks for ringing” …the couple could pop in the next day and settle up.

Twenty minutes later the restaurant owner (no stranger to dodging bills himself) arrived at the camp site accompanied by three Gardai looking for his money from the couple.

The whole incident was highly embarrassing for everyone … the couple handed over the money (I’m guessing they didn’t tip!).

The camp site manager never recommended that restaurant to his customers again, he still operates a good business and lives to tell this incredible little story and the restaurant has long shut down..mostly PR and your reputation is about what you do yourself.

Must be a lesson in all of that somewhere!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Lance, Flawed hero and the Power of “Sorry”

January 20, 2013

Lance ArmstrongI’m sorry for what I have done” said Lance as he glanced across at Oprah with those steely eyes.

It was the most fascinating interview and you may not have have liked what was he was saying but he did come across as being honest..even to the point of admitting that he was and probably still is a “jerk“.

It’s hard to know how to feel about the whole episode – I had a big discussion with my son Brendan, about the whole thing.

He totally disagrees with me!

I’ve got a simple view of Lance Armstrong ..

The Sportsman

I reckon anyone who is at the very top of their game must be extremely driven and obsessive about what they do ..it could be soccer (Roy Keane, a typical example), ballet, politics, writing, anything. If you are not obsessive you just won’t be at the very top.

Lance Armstrong who admitted he operated a  “Win at all Costs” mentality rose to the pinnacle of a sport that has been riddled with drugs and illegal practices for as long as I can remember.

Did the authorities that run professional cycling allow an environment and culture that made these illegal practices possible?

My simple question here is – did Lance practice harder and do drugs better and more effectively than all of the other cyclists? 

The Cancer Survivor

Lance Armstrong - Cancer SurvivorHe beat the odds against cancer and once again he became a winner.

He even managed to commercialise his story and the cancer journey by capturing it in books that inspired people all over the world with his “don’t give up, win” mentality.

More than once I have heard people quote his book as helping them through tough and very dark times (just last week, Chris Donoghue, Newstalk presenter)

The Charity

Livestrong FoundationUsing the power of his iconic status he formed the Livestrong Foundation charity raising money for cancer research and once again inspiring sick people the world over with his drive and inspiration.

The Cheat, the Liar and the Betrayal

We all know at this stage how much he cheated (it’s not right, but were they all at it?) and we know what a great and convincing liar (over and over he did this) he is.

The very worst of all was how he betrayed close friends, colleagues and team mates and in many cases tried to destroy them professionally and personally to protect the huge Lance Armstrong brand that he had built. He even went as far as suing people who were telling the truth just to protect himself.

This part is truly unforgivable and despicable – I really don’t know how anyone could do this.

Maybe the brand was so big and invincible that no one could handle it? Could he handle it?

Lance Armstrong is an incredibly driven individual who scaled huge heights, achieved incredible feats and managed to do a lot of good but he is incredibly flawed and is guilty of doing some terrible things.

The Power of Sorry

Lance Armstrong & Oprah

I’m Sorry …

The great thing about having a public profile (the Sean Quinn interview with Vincent Browne comes to mind) is that you will always have an audience for “sorry” – in Lance’s case he was able to have the largest possible audience with Oprah.

He said “sorry” and it gave him an opportunity to connect with a huge audience. I watched it and I did empathise with him.

Not everyone will forgive him but many will …some other viewers might just soften their attitude towards him a little.

There is huge power in the word “sorry” – always use it..

Lance Armstrong, the flawed hero – have we seen the last of him? I doubt it!

Sorry!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion with offer Crisis PR services for clients from our offices in Dublin and Cork.


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