VIP and not so VIP

April 26, 2017

VIP Parking

We arrived at the car park that we normally use as were about to start our working day.

They operate a simple system whereby you buy a parking ‘pass’ for the year and even though they don’t operate a dedicated reserved parking space you park in whatever spaces are free. It also operates as a public car park whereby people can park and pay.

From a business point of view it doesn’t sound ideal as you might worry that you won’t get a parking space when you need it (such as in the lead up to Christmas) but this is never an issue.

When you arrive early for work there is an extra bonus because at that time you can get a parking space on the lower floors.

This Monday we arrived early to find four of the very best parking spots empty but marked up with very clear signage “VIP – Reserved“.

I found myself getting really angry… (oh Greg, that’s unlike you !!) 

Now they had two customer types: VIPs and VPOs (Very p**sed off!)

Obviously, the car park has done a deal with some new customers but instead of offering them the package that they were operating with everyone else they offered a new package whereby someone could reserve their own space.

Let’s assume for a moment that the new customers have agreed to pay super premium for these reserved spaces in prime location – fair enough.

First as an existing customer for the last two years (we pay for 3 spaces) I would have liked to have been offered this package that was not available before – this was a lack of courtesy.

Secondly if you do operate reserved places please don’t call them “VIP” as this makes the rest of us existing customers (99%) feeling not quite so important. “Reserved” is enough.

If you introduce any mechanism for categorising new customers be careful how you make the existing ones feel.

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service agency that offers Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Dog Walking therapy

April 23, 2017

Hpney and Bert

It’s Sunday morning and time to walk the dogs.

Bert is the first to get ready – Dee manages to put the harness and lead on him and his excitement can’t stop him yapping continuously until he eventually gets out the door.

Dee then does exactly the same with Honey – I can never manage to get them ready as there is too much wriggling going on.

And off we go, Ballincollig Regional Park is our normal weekend walking destination.

Thankfully the weather is nice so there is no need for coats. We’ve put the call into our buddies Tommy and Joan who will be down there walking their dog, Tammy. Mum and dad will also join us for a stroll and a chat.

As always the dogs are pulling and dragging, the walk is an explosion of the senses for them, sniffing and exploring at every opportunity. The stroll to the park is through a few housing estates, down a road and when they get there it’s even more escalated with lots of activity and many others walking their four-legged ones.

We do a few circuits of the field, the dogs stopping every now and then to do their business (Dee having to do the necessary clean up..yeuch!) and we head to the weir where they get to splash and run in the water and rehydrate after all of their exertions.

We have our chats and enjoy watching the dogs exploring and if we think they are calm enough we head for a coffee and a delicious bun or two from the lovely Margaret at Cafe Chico. Honey won’t settle when we have a coffee and poor Bert believes he is one of us and wants to be sitting at the table sharing the goodies so it’s not always possible.

We all stroll back and if we haven’t had coffee in the park we might buy a few buns or some salad on the way and have it back at ours.

This simple little weekend routine is great for the soul – watching our two four legged ones exploring and having fun is just the tonic to recalibrate ourselves after a busy week.

Dog walking – my favourite time of the week.

p.s. I never wanted a dog!

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service agency that offers Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

 

Incite or Insight?

April 19, 2017

Ena Kenny and Donald Trump, Patrick's Day

Enda Kenny’s St.Patrick Days trip to the U.S. costs the taxpayer €35,000” read the headline in this newspaper article I read at the weekend.

The article documented blow by blow how and where these costs were accumulated as well as the costs of the other Ministers who travelled overseas for our national festival, that day when the whole world acknowledges and celebrates our little country.

St.Patrick would be a great Marketing/PR trick for Ireland if we had planned it!!

The article was designed to incite the reader in a way that we are seeing all too frequently – It is supposed to get us thinking…

This is a total disgrace

What a waste of money

Typical politicians, on a jolly while the rest of us are paying for it

Why does it cost so much, you can fly to the States and back for €500?

Rage, rage and more rage – thanks for exposing this abomination!!

In my humble view, Enda Kenny’s U.S. trip was well worth every cent and much more as he flew a flag for illegal Irish immigrants and our continued trade in the very delicate Trump era. This simple visit will help to preserve our special relationship with an economy that is more than vital to us.

In terms of the cost of the trip do we really expect the leader of our country to travel Economy, take public transport and book into 3-star hotels?!!

Come on guys, less of the headlines that are designed to incite the typical anger and let’s focus on the insights.

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service agency that offers Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

The same ticket but not the same

April 16, 2017

We were on the North East Corridor train heading out from Penn Station in New York to Metro Park in New Jersey to spend a few days with my brother Colin and his family.

On a commuter train to suburbia it’s hard not to observe the other passengers and wonder about their stories and their lives.

There was a guy sitting across from us, I’m guessing in his twenties dressed all in black with headphones on – every now and then he would sing along in Spanish. Many of the public signs here are in English and Spanish, which surprised me.

There was an African American guy, again in his twenties wearing a green hoodie and a baseball cap under that, also listening to his music.

An older guy sat alongside us wearing grey tracksuit bottoms and a grey top and an unusual pair of Crocs on his feet. He also had a crutch so this probably explained the footwear. He looked a little dishevelled so maybe he wasn’t having the best of days.

The ticket collector came around – he takes your ticket, then produces another ticket, punches a hole in this and then clips it behind you under a little metal clip. He does this for each of the people around us.

He comes to the guy next to us, the grey tracksuit guy, who takes his ticket from under his sock and produces it for inspection.

Tear it in half” the ticket officer tells him. The passenger looks confused.

Tear it in half” the ticket officer repeats, this time with a little more intent.

He looks confused and asks “Why?”

I’m not touching that, it’s been in your sock” he says.

The poor guy in the tracksuit never felt better I’m sure. His bad day, week, month, year or decade was confirmed in front of his fellow travellers and he quietly accepted this instruction and tore his ticket in half.

The ticket officer was able to go ahead with his job without having to touch the offensive ticket.

This was an unpleasant and unnecessary exchange between two strangers and at what cost?

Would it have been so hard just to take the piece of paper from this fellow human being and treat it like all those other pieces of paper, equally and with respect?

However, we are not equal.

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service agency that offers Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

United Airlines and the Costly Culture

April 16, 2017

United Airlines protests.

When you hear the company name “United Airlines” what comes to mind?

When you hear the company name “Volkswagen” what comes to mind?

In both cases, you probably think of the well publicised and very damaging situations that have occurred, which have caused untold damage to these monstrous brands.

At the time of writing United Airline shares had dropped significantly resulting in a market capitalisation collapse of $570 Million.

While United Airlines was a very specific incident and Volkswagen was a very deliberate campaign of deception what they both have in common is that what occurred was not something that you could blame on “a” culprit in each company.

With United Airlines could you point the finger at the security guards who removed the passenger?

With Volkswagen could you point the finger at the engineers who were able to rig the emissions performance?

In each case, the individuals involved knew that what they did was okay with their bosses – why would they do such a thing otherwise?

In each case, their bosses knew that this was what they were expected to instruct their subordinates to do – why else would they give guidance like this?

In each case, their bosses, bosses had jobs to do and targets to meet and the expectation was that these must be achieved as a priority beyond all other objectives.

And so on up the chain of command.

The huge problem in large organisations is that very often something rotten is allowed to creep into the culture resulting in management and employees behaving really badly and eventually it just bursts through and shows its ugly face in a way that is quite extraordinarily shocking to everyone.

Oscar Munoz - United Airlines

For example with United Airlines the initial reaction of Chairman Oscar Munoz was to apologise to other passengers for the “upsetting event” but went on to push the blame onto the 69-year-old victim Dr.Dao for being “disruptive and belligerent“!

If you ever wanted someone to confirm the rotten culture at the airline, Mr.Munoz did it in his next communication to his staff where he praised them and stood behind them:

Our employees followed established procedures for dealing with situations like this. While I deeply regret this situation arose, I also emphatically stand behind all of you, and I want to commend you for continuing to go above and beyond to ensure we fly right

In a strange way, he was 100% correct – they did what was expected of them in these situations and as a result, he applauded them!!

At this point in time, the airline’s reputation was in tatters and Oscar and his team started to frantically backpaddle and within three days their tone had changed and fresh press statements included grovelling apologies to Dr.Dao for the appalling treatment and a full refund to all passengers on the flight (what difference was this ridiculous gesture going to do for anyone?).

The best PR advice when something like this occurs is to come clean and apologise immediately with complete sincerity. The word “Sorry” if people genuinely believe those that are delivering the apology can go a long way to reducing the damage caused.

However, just like in the United Airlines scenario a genuine “sorry” was not possible because the culture was too rotten to even contemplate doing such a thing – the expression ‘not being able to see the wood from the trees‘ comes to mind here.

Your reputation ultimately comes from what you do and how you behave and while good PR professionals can help to lessen the damage from a bad situation, it cannot change the culture, which can often be the reason why these things ended up happening in the first place.

Could your culture end up costing you?

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full-service agency that offers Crisis PR consultancy from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

The Magic of PR

April 6, 2017

PR Magic

Advertising is a way of promoting your business but it is you saying that “we are great, buy from us“.

PR is a way of promoting your business and it is more effective because it is someone else, a trusted third party saying “they are great, buy from them

Your PR makes your advertising more effective as now people believe what you are saying

Social media (when you do it right!) is a way of you promoting your business by interacting, engaging and gently saying “stop by, you might like what we have to offer

Your PR makes your social media more effective as now people believe it is worth stopping by and seeing what you have to offer.

Do all three and you have a powerful combination with PR the little piece of magic in the middle.

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service agency that offers Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

Calls to action and the impatient customer

March 28, 2017

Cork City FC

The match was on Saturday, a top of the table clash, I had nothing on so how about it?

I hadn’t been to a game in such a long time, which is incredible considering that there was a time when we wouldn’t miss a single match. Regardless of who they were playing we were there; me, my dad, my son, my nephew and from time to time we even dragged my daughter Ellen along!

Was this the time to start a new habit?

I rang my dad – “If I can get tickets are you up for it?“. It would be a nice excuse for us to do something together and get him out from under mum’s feet for a while.

Thumbs up, he was up for it..as long as we can get tickets of course. We could take the risk of going there and hope to get them at the gate but there was a chance it would be a sell out.

Give me a few minutes pops“.

I went onto the club website – where was the button that said ‘tickets’?

There was no such button. I scrolled up and scrolled down – nothing.

I clicked on ‘fixtures’ and the match in question and eventually there was some information about tickets. I could buy them on Ticketmaster (lining those boys pockets with ridiculous booking fees isn’t my idea of a good time but it was an option) but I didn’t have a printer in the house and wasn’t in the mood for popping into the office on my day off.

I could buy them at the club shop but that wasn’t at the ground and was at the other side of the city. Not an option.

There was a phone number that I could ring – I got a pointless message that told me about “opening hours”. I just wanted someone to tell me that I could get tickets at the ground.

Back to Ticketmaster – okay, I’d buy them online and put up with the visit to the office to print them. I guessed they wouldn’t accept something on my phone as a valid ticket. Ticketmaster had no option for OAP tickets. Damn..

Just as I was about to pull my hair out my dad called me back.

I’m not really up to it today if you don’t mind

Not to worry pops“.

I was really upset that our afternoon together didn’t materialise but I do know that if I had managed to buy those tickets when I was in the mood I wouldn’t have given him a choice and both of us would have had a great time. We won 2-1!

In a time poor world, when everything is instant, click, click, click, you need to move fast to convert a customer when they are in the mood, which can change in the blink of an eye.

When we talk about the importance of having “Call to actions” on your website we mean having those buttons at every juncture that make it easy for the person to do business with you when they are in the mood. If you don’t you will just lose out..

Greg Canty

Greg Canty is a managing partner of Fuzion Communications who provide website design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

 

Sad songs, dirty lovers and technology abandoning consumers

March 26, 2017

Johnson & Perrott

The call came through that my new car was ready to be collected – as it was a weekday I didn’t want to spoil the very special occasion by collecting it, driving back to work, parking up and driving home later.

I asked if it was possible to collect the car on Saturday when I would have a chance to properly enjoy it. That was fine so a new plan was born.

On Saturday morning I woke up excited as a child on Christmas morning and the first thing I did was go through my CD’s to pick something suitably rocky to put the superb sound system through its paces. If you haven’t heard the album, “Sad songs for dirty lovers” by The National then check it out quick. There are a few hard, driving rock songs that will get you in the mood!

I thought my dad might like to come with me and enjoy the buzz so I collected him on the way to Johnson & Perrott in Mahonpoint.

I didn’t see the car parked outside as I was expecting

When we got there it’s as if they were waiting for us. They were treating the occasion of handing over a new car to a customer with the same reverence and sense of occasion as it was for the customer. I was however wondering where the new car was?

Ah Greg, we were waiting for you. Let’s get you your new car“.

In the middle of the showroom there was a car that was under a sexy black cloth cover. I was curious and wondered if a new model of a car was going to be unveiled later to the media or if there was some embargo whereby they weren’t allowed to show it to the public until a certain date and time.

The cloth created a sense of theatre and intrigue.

Dan O’Neill, the wonderful sales guy that I have been dealing with for many years caught my curiosity and asked me if I was ready to see my new car.

He brought me over and theatrically pulled the cloth away from the car and unveiled my new, gorgeous Jaguar XF to both me and my dad.

Jaguar XF

Oh my God, what a moment – buying a new car is special but this rewrote the rule book on how your new car should be presented to you.

The car was driven out of the showroom, I quickly completed some paperwork. Dan showed me some of the new features and the keys were finally handed over to me.

It was time to hit the road in this beauty that I was privileged to be driving (I work my socks off but I don’t for one second appreciate how lucky I am) except there was one last thing to do before I pressed on the accelerator.

Sad songs for dirty lovers” was removed from the case and ….

A moments confusion – where do I put the CD?

There was no slot where you would expect it. Was there a button to press somewhere that would slide open a panel on the dashboard where the CD would go? Was there a multi-CD option in the boot (I never liked that idea but okay if that was the case)? Was there some place in the console next to the driver where you placed the CD?

Feeling rather stupid that I wasn’t able to figure out this basic thing I went looking for Dan and asked him the embarrassing question, “Dan, where do I put the CD?

They’ve done away with a CD player in this new model, it’s all by bluetooth now” he explained.

I was staggered and disappointed. We switched on the radio and heard Bobby Kerr doing his business show, I flicked the channels to find some decent music but nothing was what I wanted to hear on my first journey in this fantastic machine. Instead we drove away and just listened to the gorgeous purr of the engine.

Someone somewhere made a decision on behalf of all new Jaguar XF drivers that any music listened to while driving would be on the radio or via something pre-loaded on a phone or an iPod.

I love my music more than most, I love my CD’s and I love the idea of being able to grab something from my collection or buy something in the music store and just play!

I probably sound like a dinosaur (the dinosaur who was buying the car!) but this boy is thinking that technology is now driving a lot of behaviour in a way that maybe the customer just doesn’t want?

Get your hands on that National album (CD or Vinyl) and put it in a decent sound system, crank it up as loud as you can bear and celebrate how things should be..

Note – I bought the car at the beginning of 2016 and a few irritations with technology recently have prompted me to finally write the piece.

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service agencu that offers Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

 

 

 

 

The St.Patrick’s Day lost opportunity

March 16, 2017

St.Patrick's DAy

Can you imagine getting off the plane today, 16th March visiting Ireland for the first time. It’s the eve of St.Patrick’s Day, the iconic Irish festival and I wonder what are your expectations?

You have heard all about it, you have seen some footage on the TV, you know about the Irish dignitaries visiting foreign lands pressing the flesh and exchanging gifts of the shamrock. You know about the Irish celebrations all over the world on this special day where the Irish (and so many who would love to be Irish!) celebrate their Irishness. You have heard about Ireland, the friendly, beautiful country that is famous for the warm welcome, the craic and of course the pubs with that iconic drink, Guinness.

You must be excited..

I’ve just parked the car, grabbed a coffee and walked to the office and I’ve tried to put myself in the shoes of this visitor – what do they see, what do they experience, what are they thinking?

Except for the window of the Tourist Office you really wouldn’t even know that there was a festival. That poor tourist must be a little confused!

I haven’t come to town to see the parade for donkey’s years (even though I do hear its got a lot better) and I haven’t considered it either this year either despite our office being on the route with a perfect view. Outside of the parade is there anything else that would bring me to town to celebrate my Irishness? I know there are some activities planned around the city for the weekend but the occasion just hasn’t crept inside my skin, it doesn’t connect with me.

Palio

Twice a year in Siena (start and end of the summer) in Tuscany there is a festival called the Palio of ‘Palio di Siena‘ which is basically a local festival that runs for a week each time that culminates in a bare back horse race in the Piazzo del Campo at the centre of the town.

Palio

Every man, woman and child comes out and celebrates. They sing, they parade behind their horses and at night they eat and drink together.

The Guardian refer to it “It’s not a horse race, it’s a way of life” and they talk about it being an “embodiment of civic pride”.

We have been there about six times as I am totally seduced by this special feeling of being connected and part of a community spirit, a coming together.

Everytime I go there I wish and long for something in Ireland that can bring out the same spirit and feeling of community, pride and connectedness –  St.Patrick’s Day should be that day but for some reason it falls short.

St.Patrick’s Day is one of our greatest assets and it should be the most special day in all of our calendars. Every man, woman and child, let’s celebrate together!

How can we make that happen?

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service national agency that offers Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

 

I’ve lost my voice!

March 11, 2017

Losing your voice

I’m not kidding and I’m not trying to be cryptic in any way – I have actually lost my voice!

This is a hangover from our recent trip to New York where I had picked up a sore throat, I guess from long, tiring flights, hotel air conditioning and really chilly weather when we were there.

On the way home at the start of this week I failed to sleep on the plane so I never quite made up for a missing nights sleep and yesterday morning I did a presentation on ‘Social Media Strategy‘ at the Ludgate Hub in Skibbereen, which had me on my feet and talking for nearly four hours – I guess my body has said “enough” and for the first time ever in my life I have no voice today, on my birthday of all days!!

This has been the strangest feeling – my mum called me this morning on the phone and I tried to speak to her – nothing!

I had a few simple errands to run in town today and once again in front of shopkeepers, looking for some specific things – nothing!

I’m sure it will be back tomorrow or soon after if I look after it but it has made me reflect on my 52 years and I have wondered exactly what I have done with this voice of mine?

I have reflected on this last year, number 52 on this earth, and considered how I have used my voice – has it made a difference, has it helped, has it supported, has it been kind, has it been loving and caring, has it motivated, has it given direction, has it highlighted issues, has it been positive or has it been negative, has it been unkind, has it been destructive, has it caused upset?

Being truthful I think this voice has done an okay job this last year but I’m not happy as I feel it needs to start making a much bigger difference.

Your voice is a precious gift – choose to use it properly

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service national agency that offers Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland