Ireland, Visitors and Closing the Schools

October 21, 2020

Schools - lockdown

Another severe lockdown in the depths of winter, full of confusion, anger, worry and concern for all cohorts of society that are being severely damaged by a cruel disease that doesn’t really care how we feel about it – it’s just quite happy to have new homes to visit, while we can’t !

This leaves us facing into six weeks of varying degrees of misery, depending on your circumstances, so it better be damn worth it and deliver a result that will allow people to recover both their lives and livelihoods when it is over.

I feel metaphorically speaking we have all had the Covid virus (In saying that I am not belittling anyone who has suffered directly as a result of having the disease). 

To make sure these six weeks are as effective as they can possibly be (does anyone want 12 weeks??) it’s vital that everything that can be done, is done right now and for me besides Irish people adhering to the rules and the spirit of the rules, there are three stand out measures that are an absolute must:

  1. The island of Ireland must work together
  2. People coming into Ireland cannot add to the spread that is already here
  3. The right decision needs to be made about schools

Getting these things wrong will totally diminish the benefits from the six weeks of hardship.  

But that’s not possible” is what I hear people say when we talk about the island of Ireland. This is bullshit and we need to call it out – we have a common problem that deserves a common solution, and the cooperation that happened with foot and mouth disease needs to happen again.

People coming into the country should be tested before they get on any plane or boat and shouldn’t be allowed to wander freely in Ireland until we know they are not carrying a virus. Quick tests that are in other jurisdictions would make a big difference.

The final measure is possibly the very contentious one, as it really effects us because we have a lot of young and old students and their families, all with a vested interest in their education and their health.

Hey teacher leave those kids at home!

I would love to believe that our precious children, young and old, are largely immune from this horrible disease and play no part in it’s spread to others in the general community.

On that basis they could safely go to school, continue with their development and in truth allow their parents to get on uninterrupted with their work and lives – That would be a fantastic scenario, one that is great for society but is it the case?       

I for one, don’t believe it..

I know from my own Twitter account and from texts and messages that I have received from people including a national journalist, I am getting lots of vitriol for daring to suggest that the reopening of schools followed by colleges could be a contributing factor to the sudden spike in cases that happened in Ireland in August and has continued and has been replicated across Europe.

My hunch was based purely on the story of the pandemic timeline (very few cases, schools open and then cases spiked – this was before wet pubs opened) in Ireland. I’m sure people returning from overseas holidays (Green or non-Green list countries – flights continued to and from both) was also a contributing factor but that would have been a gradual thing on the timeline.

With the schools you can pinpoint the actual date they reopened and the timeline of the cases at that time.

I hear the arguments against my position:

But…young kids are not likely to get Covid and spread it?

But..older kids are more likely to get Covid and spread it but they are most unlikely to be sick from it?

But …colleges. They are adults who will hang out and party like we all did back in the day, so that’s a fairly straightforward argument.

But…the data from our test, track and trace system and the resulting published stats hasn’t been identifying schools as being a problem?

Maybe my hunch is totally wrong and the decision or choice by the government to keep schools open unlike in Northern Ireland is a justified one – lets think about it and see what the experts are saying and figure out what we know and don’t know?

So…

Do we know that young kids cannot get Covid? – we don’t

Do we know that young kids if they do contract Covid are most likely to be asymptomatic (just like many adults are)? –  likely

Do we know that asymptomatic kids cannot pass Covid onto others? – definitely not 

Older kids, teenagers will be more likely to contract Covid than younger kids, but will be more likely to be asymptomatic? – likely

At this point we need to ask ourselves a simple question..

Will asymptomatic kids (of all ages) who contract Covid pass it to others who then get sick, test positive and we NEVER know who the source was

In my simple mind, that’s quite plausible and it stacks up my hunch about schools opening and the spike, but lets see what the professionals are saying about schools, children and young adults

In the U.S. this is what is being said:

Yes, children can get COVID-19..

Dr. Lisa Gwynn, an associate professor of clinical pediatrics and public health sciences at the Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami, said that yes, children can get COVID-19.

However, according to Brian Labus, PhD, MPH, an assistant professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, the infection rates in children are low.

When children do get infected,” explained Labus, “they tend to have a very mild disease compared to adults.

Gwynn said that children can transmit COVID-19 to adults.

She noted that children ages 10 and older are especially able to transmit the illness to the adults around them.

While there’s limited information regarding children younger than 10, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report Trusted Source on September 18 indicating that younger children can transmit the virus to adults as well.

The report cited one case in which an 8-month-old child transmitted the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, to both parents. Another child at the same day care facility who contracted the virus was 8 years old.

Both children had mild signs and symptoms, including runny nose, fatigue, and fever. The report included information about 12 children who had developed COVID-19 at three different child care facilities.

Transmission, either confirmed or probable, was shown to have occurred to 46 people outside of the facilities, including one parent who had to be hospitalized. Also, two children who had confirmed COVID-19 but were asymptomatic were shown to have transmitted the disease to adults.

There was even a more concerning article that says

Asymptomatic children can spread coronavirus for weeks, study finds

New US studies show viral loads of the coronavirus are especially high among children and youths, who can unknowingly spread it for weeks.

The article went on to say:

A new, unsettling study on children and the coronavirus pandemic has just been published as countries around the world reopen kindergartens and school classrooms. The study’s findings are sure to further fuel already heated debates over the risk of infection in institutions of learning.

Doctors at the Children’s National Hospital in Washington, DC have found that infected children can spread the SARS-CoV-2 virus for weeks even though they themselves show no COVID-19 symptoms. That means that children with only mild symptoms, or none at all, can unknowingly infect people around them.

In an earlier study, researchers in Boston showed that children and youths they observed had surprisingly high viral loads.

This led to an inevitable question:

Are asymptomatic children spreading the virus?

It went on:

The new study, which was published on August 28 on the website of the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics, was conducted by Roberta L. DeBiasi and Meghan Delaney, who analyzed data from 91 children in 22 hospitals across South Korea. “Unlike in the US health system, those who test positive for COVID-19 in South Korea remain in the hospital until they have completely recovered from their infection,” says DeBiasi.

According to the study, roughly 22% of the children developed no symptoms throughout their infection, 20% began asymptomatic but later developed symptoms, and 58% tested symptomatic. The study also showed great differences in the length of time children remained symptomatic, ranging from three days to three weeks. One-fifth of the asymptomatic patients and roughly half of the symptomatic patients were still passing on the SARS-CoV-2 virus three weeks after initial infection — though this did not directly reflect their contagiousness.

The authors readily admit that there is still much to be learned about the role of children and youths in the spread of the coronavirus, and that their findings will further fuel that debate.

With our testing and tracing system would we even discover that an asymptomatic child (no temperature, cough etc) was the possible source for the spread of Covid in an outbreak – it’s impossible unless there was mass testing.

Moving away from the Korean data:

Researchers in Boston, meanwhile, found surprisingly high viral loads among the youngest patients they observed. For their study, they took nose and throat swabs from 49 children and youths under the age of 21. The study found far more SARS-CoV-2 virus presence among them than among adults being treated in intensive care units for COVID-19.

According to the Boston study, which was published on August 1 in the periodical The Journal of Pediatrics , scientists found far fewer ACE-2 receptors among smaller children than in youths and adults. Those receptors are thought to be SARS-CoV-2’s gateway into the body’s cells.

Read on:

They talk about tiny “superspreaders”:

The role of children and youths in the spread of the coronavirus has been hotly debated since the first infections were registered. One thing is clear, children and youths can infect others. It is also clear that infected children and youths often show few or no signs of being ill. And it is also just as clear — though most people prefer not to talk about this — that children and youths can also die or suffer lasting damage as the result of a COVID-19 infection.

That doesn’t automatically mean that all children and youths are potential “superspreaders,” driving infection rates around them. Still, children and youths — through kindergarten, school, friends and sports — often have far more social interaction than adults. The past few months have also shown that young people are just as likely as adults to ignore social distancing and hygiene rules if they are not compelled to do otherwise.

Amid a flood of returning vacationers, along with parties and crowded events, German infection rates are now the highest they have been since April. A great number of those testing positive for COVID-19 now are young, driving down the average age of infection to the lowest figure registered since the pandemic began.

Still, despite high viral loads and the ability to pass on the virus for weeks — even if a child is asymptomatic — young people can still act decisively to stop the spread of infection.

Centre of Disease Control

In a report by the CDC in Sept based on research, they arrived at the following conclusion:

To be sure, the best available evidence from countries that have reopened schools indicates that COVID-19 poses low risks to school-aged children – at least in areas with low community transmission. That said, the body of evidence is growing that children of all ages are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection (3-7) and, contrary to early reports (1112), might play a role in transmission (71314).

World Health Organisation

In a report by the WHO in September they also addressed the role of schools:

The role of children in transmission is not yet fully understood. To date, few outbreaks involving children or schools have been reported. However, the small number of outbreaks reported among teaching or associated staff to date suggests that spread of COVID-19 within educational settings may be limited.

As children generally have milder illness and fewer symptoms, cases may sometimes go unnoticed. Importantly, early data from studies suggest that infection rates among teenagers may be higher than in younger children.

Closer to home

Closer to home Dr. Tomás Ryan, Assistant Professor at the School of Biochemistry & Immunology, Trinity College Dublin chats with Eamon Dunphy on his podcast – he welcomes the six week lock down as he believes it is necessary to correct the course of the disease, but he does feel that schools should be part of this as we should be doing everything to make this period work.   

He also speaks about the need for cooperation with the North and controls with those visiting Ireland from abroad.

He is also a big advocate for a ZeroCovid approach just like in New Zealand, who are now enjoying international rugby matches in packed stadiums – that sounds nice!  

Click here to listen.

Conclusion?

While all of this information is confusing and inconclusive, none of it has eased my concern about schools and while we are  taking brutal action against other areas of society then we should be absolutely sure that schools are not part of the problem.

  • Coordinate with the North
  • Carefully control visitors to Ireland
  • Close the schools 

Lets’ get to zero and start living again,

What do you think?

Greg

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service Marketing, PR, Graphic Design and Digital Marketing agency with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sorry Michael..

October 6, 2020

Inniscarra Bar, Cork

Friday evening, after doing our grocery shopping we decided we would get a quick drink in our local before settling down for the night at home.

This beautiful little pub, the Inniscarra Bar is just outside Ballincollig – it’s your traditional “old mans” pub where there are a bunch of regulars and a few like us who pop in for one every now and then.

We were determined to pop in as the place had just opened that Monday after a cruel six months of “lockdown” to enjoy a drink, to say hello to the lovely owner Kay and to soak up some of the  much missed atmosphere.

All of the Covid signs were up, Kay and her fellow barmaid had their masks on and were busy cleaning the tables every few minutes and making sure that everyone was maintaining a safe distance. The old codgers who were normally perched at the bar on their favourite chairs weren’t for obvious reasons which was sad – there would have been even more opportunities to distance if that was possible, but there you go.

All of the usual faces were there and it was lovely to hear the banter, which pretty much was telling jokes about Covid and who looked funny wearing their mask, to make light of this shite situation and to “pretend” it was somehow a normal night, at least for a while.

We sat near Michael, a lovely, kind, welcoming regular, well known for his jokes who we were told was 88 the previous week – I told him we could now call him “two fat ladies” but he didn’t get it. He obviously never played bingo!

Michael was perched near the fire as always, and after he got a few jokes out of his system he started to tell us how lonely he had been since the lockdown. He lives alone.

With tears in his eyes he told us how he dreaded 6pm each night as that was the time that he would make his way to the pub – the nights were long and lonely and he was fed up of playing chess on the computer.

Someone needs to tell Michael that tonight will be his last night with friends for a while again..

Covid has been cruel, but if we are to shut down and inflict all types of hardship on so many people, we better make it a good shutdown, short and sharp with no cherry picking of different groups of society and no stupid messing around with borders.

We must get to Zero Covid and we absolutely can because what we are living through now just isn’t living.

Sorry Michael…

Greg

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service Marketing, PR, Graphic Design and Digital Marketing agency with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

 

Zero Covid and the “Future Green List”

October 5, 2020

New Zealand lockdown

This is not working, this is not living and we shouldn’t accept any plan that doesn’t have us working towards a return to our normal lives – shopping without masks, having people to dinner from more than one household, having parties, going to gigs and the theatre… looking at others without judgement 24/7.

We need to go for Zero Covid just like they have managed it in New Zealand, but this can only happen if we do everything to starve the virus and ONLY do this if we have international cooperation with other countries that wish to be part of a “Future Green List“.

But it’s easy for them in New Zealand….they are different.” (Really?)

I hate when I hear people saying this is not possible “because of politics“.

When we think it’s not possible this is the first problem, because it is absolutely possible.

Which country in the world is sailing through this pandemic without people living in fear, getting sick, dying and their economies in free-fall?

We all have something in common, don’t we? – The prize for getting this right is big, it is GIGANTIC.

Background:

Please listen to some excellent podcasts hosted by Eamon Dunphy, The Stand with various guests who give some valuable perspectives to support this argument/approach: 

Dr. Niall Conroy, Consultant in Public Medicine in Queensland, talks to Eamon about how the combination of strong leadership and listening to the doctors suppressed Covid-19 across Australia.

Prof. Gerry Killeen, Chair of Applied Pathogen Ecology in UCC – Unless We Abandon Our Defeatist Strategy We’re Looking at 35,000 Deaths

Tomás Ryan, Associate Professor in the School of Biochemistry and Immunology and Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience – Get Real or Get Ready for a Terrible Winter

So…how do we do this?

  • We find out which countries want to be Covid free and want to restore normal life and their economies again – anyone interested?

Some strong common sense leadership is required for this part!

  • Then we agree a ‘Future Green List’ and put a target date for this to happen.
  • Let’s say 25th December, Christmas Day is the goal and at that point the objective is that countries in this ‘Future Green List’ are 100% back to normal: YEP – 100% BACK TO NORMAL!

Imagine living normally and being able to travel freely between these countries and doing all the things that we are dangerously close to forgetting?

For some stupid reason that idea seems preposterous right now, the most ridiculous, rubbish thinking by a mad man….right? It isn’t, listen to podcast with Dr. Niall Conroy, about a place with a population larger than Ireland. 

  • Once we agree who is in that ‘Future Green List’ each country closes their borders except for essential travel and a proper 14 day quarantine programme is put in place for other travellers.
  • Then each country goes about doing the hard yards to bring us to Zero Covid and try desperately to get everyone back to a “We are in this together” place, which has long since disappeared.

The 25th December, Christmas day, seeing friends and family normally might be a great motivator?

If we believe in the goal and witness the progress, people will hopefully stay the course.

I’ll gladly take that, if it is leading us towards a tangible worthwhile goal that we can all believe in, which certainly is nothing like where we are now, society is choking as we drift rudderless towards nowhere.

  • When Ireland hits Zero Covid we maintain our borders and start living again, fully living (not this current version)
  • When Spain hits Zero Covid we can open our borders to Spain and vice versa.
  • When the UK hits their Zero Covid we open to them and so on and so on

The countries outside the Green List will work hard to be on the list and will know how to get there from those who have got there – New Zealand have shown us what is possible.

If there are (inevitable) bumps along the way, just like in New Zealand you hunt them down and stamp them out just like they have done.

Are we in?

Greg

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service Marketing, PR, Graphic Design and Digital Marketing agency with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

Just a Drop of a West Cork Story ..

September 3, 2020

Old Head KInsale

We were in the car all five of us on a Saturday morning, the last one of August, the last one of summer (I know it’s autumn, but I always consider August to be part of summer) taking a trip around West Cork.

The five of us was Dee and I, the two dogs Honey and Bert who have started to enjoy our summer excursions and Ayla, from New Zealand, my son’s girlfriend (he’s busy filming for Failte Ireland at the moment).

From a chat we had a few nights earlier we reckoned she hadn’t really experienced that wonderful part of Ireland, so this plan was hatched.

As usual, we totally underestimated the amount of time it would take to explore but we did manage to take in the Old Head of Kinsale and then a scenic coastal drive that included Harbour View beach, Timoleague, Courtmacsherry and Clonakilty via Ring.

The sun was shining and Clonakilty town was buzzing and we strolled through the town with our two four legged buddies, enviously looking at the patrons enjoying the selection of cafes and restaurants that were calling to us.

Eventually, the pangs of hunger and the gentle waft of a chipper called to us and we grabbed two bags of “proper” chips with some mouth watering, juicy, succulent chicken goujons from an immaculate place called the ‘Chunky Chip‘ and enjoyed those sitting on the grass on the green near Emmet Square.

Emmet Square, Clonakilty

Walking off those chips was a must so we headed on to Red Strand and then onto Long Strand at Owenahincha and went for a fabulous walk meandering through the sand dunes that go on forever and then onto the beach.

Owenincha

The dogs enjoyed the water, but did realise it wasn’t for drinking and we managed to sit for a few moments to enjoy a glass of white wine (Dee is always prepared!) looking out at the ocean, taking in all of it’s beauty and bidding farewell to this very strange summer.

Driving back home (there was a Liverpool match to get back for..) we were chatting about all sorts of everything including “wouldn’t it be great to live near the sea” which seemed to be the recurring topic of the day.

Throughout the journey we had the music playing with a mix of all our tastes along with the selection that the Spotify algorithm throws you and before we knew it we were listing to a fantastic song by one of my favourite bands, The 4 of Us, called “Just A Drop“.

I was able to tell Ayla and Dee (and the two dogs!) the story of the song, which not only brought it to life but it also gave them an insight into the character of the band and something that they could carry with them and tell others.

The reason I knew the story was because they told it to me via email.

Every week during “lockdown” the band have been sending an email featuring a different song, whereby they tell the story behind the song and they leave you with the gift of a free download.

This is the fantastic story behind the song in their own words:

Just A Drop. The story behind the song…

Dad was a big Johnny Cash fan and suggested, on more than one occasion, that our songs could benefit from a bit of the boom-chicka-boom rhythm that characterised Cash’s early recordings.

We eventually took up his suggestion, writing Just A Drop, for the Sugar Island album, as a tribute to him and his love for the Man in Black.

Before we recorded it, we headed home to Newry to play it for him.

“You are finally going to love a 4 Of Us song,” we told him.

To make sure he was in a suitably receptive mood, we bought some insurance – a bottle of his favourite whiskey.

He sipped a glass of it, relaxing in his favourite armchair as we played him the song.

Three minutes later, we waited to hear his opinion. He paused.

Then he looked up at us and said just two words:

“More whiskey.”

We insisted on playing it to him again, assuring him that sometimes it takes a while for a song to grow on you.

After three more performances – and three more whiskeys – he started getting into it.

So, if you don’t think our performance in the video below sounds anything like Johnny Cash, we understand.

But can we recommend that you combine it with a glass or two of Black Bush?

Brendan and Declan ❤

(you can watch the song on YouTube at the bottom of this post)

It’s such a very clever thing to do.

At a time when they can’t do gigs, they are still talking to us and what’s more, they are building a special bond and a connection that brings us closer to them and one that works when it comes to selling their music and their gigs.

It was nice to get an unexpected lesson in marketing from an unexpected source..

Are you taking the time to tell your interesting story?

Greg

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service PR, Graphic Design and Digital Marketing agency with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

The Covid Grind and the Covid Police

July 20, 2020

Gina Murphy, Hugos Restaurant

Roll those sleeves up, get stuck in and have a great week #WinHappy” is my usual Monday morning tweet, my little mantra, which being honest is as much for myself as it is for anyone else to get into the right frame of mind as we begin another work week.

I’ve been tweeting that since during the last recession and it has served me well.

As I tweeted it this morning I felt like a fraud because I was in an awful mood, which didn’t quite match those words.

Of course it’s this whole Covid thing with a few other run of the mill  “life” things layered on top – nothing serious I promise, but without a doubt there is a little Covid cloud sitting over my head today, as well as this feeling like a grind.

Dee spotting my mood tells me quite rightly to stop arguing with people on Twitter as this is where she sees some of my poor mood coming out – She is right of course, as I get upset reading about the latest idiotic thing that Trump has done and when I increasingly see what I am calling the “Covid Police” – for some reason we have all started finger pointing and judging:

Gina Murphy and Leo Varadkar at her Hugos Restaurant getting lambasted by the social media “hoards” for not sufficiently social distancing in a photo even though she was wearing a visor (she’s a great gal, struggling to make a living in these awful circumstances and has gone to huge lengths and cost to reopen safely). Covid Police..

I had to jump in!

– The Leeds United manager getting lambasted for not setting a “better example” when he went to a person who was in a wheelchair in the crowd who was waiting for him and hugged them – of course it’s not perfect but it was a huge, touching gesture. They have just been promoted to the Premiership, which to devoted fans is an absolutely colossal life moment. Instead of just appreciating the very touching human moment, allowing a spontaneous human reaction in the middle of this Covid grind, we instead jump in, point out the grave error and judge… As I said, Covid Police!

I had to jump in!

– The Professor posting a picture of himself proudly walking around a West Cork town on a sunny afternoon wearing a mask and commenting on the people who aren’t wearing them. Why wear one walking around in the fresh air? I felt this was subtle finger pointing at those of us who are finding this difficult and judging (for the successful months of curve flattening we were told there was no need)

I had to jump in! (This was genuinely a nice interaction but an Irish gal in America jumped in and accused me of all sorts including having no empathy). Covid Police!

This is an extremely difficult time for all of us as we are all processing it differently.

People are confused, people are in fear, people are trying to hold onto some piece of normality, people are trying to find brightness wherever they can get it, people are trying to protect loved ones, people are trying to protect their livelihoods, and people are trying to manage their mental health.

I think it’s really important that we do have empathy and we shouldn’t start finger pointing and judging others at this time as it isn’t easy.

Sean Moncrieff describes feeling a “low level depression” in an article he wrote for the Irish Times a few weeks back, and I get what he is talking about.

We’ve just had our Monday morning catch up call with the team and that interaction has brightened me up as it always does – I’ve taken longer writing this post than I meant to, but I wanted to capture these strange feelings at this weird time so that I can look back later, when we will have hopefully forgotten what it felt like.

Roll those sleeves up, get stuck in, have a great week, be kind….and most importantly, mind yourself

Greg

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service Marketing, PR, Graphic Design and Digital Marketing agency with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

Long hair and figuring out what “normal” should look like

July 5, 2020

Greg Canty - Long hair version

I had one of those rare, precious things in these very strange COVID19 times – an appointment at the hairdressers!

We are good friends with one of the owners so Dee made an appointment for me and being honest I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about it.

I was sitting in the waiting area observing all of the safety procedure signage as the team looked after their clients, all carefully spread out in the salon and all with their face visors or masks on.

Since March, we were all forced to jump off our frantic never ending cycle of life and while we have been busy and have continued to work hard it’s been quite different.

There’s been no face to face meetings, there’s been no travelling and there’s been no wearing of blazers and constant work shirt ironing.

As we all know, simple things like haircuts have been impossible, so at this stage my hair has been longer and bigger (I’m a curly head!!) than it’s been since I was in secondary school. It’s been a bit of a joke with everyone how big it is and I must admit that there is something about it that’s been enjoyable as the circumstances have forced me to go back in time.

While this time has been so unusual, complete with so much worry, sadness and uncertainty it has forced a very different way of living on us and as the restrictions are lifting gradually step by step it starts to close a door on the enforced life and prise open a door to some return to normal, whatever that looks like.

In ways I feel many of the changes were great changes and it would be so good to hold onto the better parts as we move forward.

In my head my impending haircut was taking on some ridiculous and much bigger significance – it was closing the door to that strange time.

After a few moments they were ready for me and as part of their very careful process I had to put on a mask – this is the first time I’ve done this and I couldn’t believe how awful it felt having this covering over my face and nose. I totally get why it’s necessary in these close quarters where everyone must be extremely careful as we emerge from lockdown, but it really felt stifling.  They were saying how awful the masks were for sustained periods while working – god love our medical professionals!

So, what will we do with your hair?” was the question by Kelly.

In my head I just wanted to leave and postpone the haircut so I explained to her that there was something about the long hair that I had enjoyed.

After a chat with Darren they reckoned long was actually quite good, so a little “tidy up” was the order of the day and the big mop of hair will love on for another while at least.

I’m not quite ready to return to normal, at least not until I’ve figured out what I want that to look like.

Greg

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service Marketing, PR, Graphic Design and Digital Marketing agency with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

 

Klopp – The key moment that won the league?

June 28, 2020

Liverpool celebration against West Brom

After the historic winning of the Premiership this week by Liverpool FC, with seven matches still to play there has been a lot of analysis of Jurgen Klopp’s time at the club, with many trying to identify the “key moments” that have contributed to this huge achievement.

As a colossal and very happy Liverpool fan I’ve watched pretty much every press conference, every match including pre-season games and even the odd reserve match and since Klopp took over as manager in 2015 there have been many significant moments.

A new style of play, intensive pre-season training, the signing of some key players and a continuous learning curve have all contributed to incremental success and of course this has resulted in belief and confidence.

However for me, a key factor in this success story is Jurgen Klopp’s deep understanding of psychology – he knows how the mind works and how much this ultimately affects how the players on the pitch can play to their very best, even at times when things have gone wrong in matches and looked certain that a loss was on the cards.

The role of fans or “supporters” is huge in this and he worked on this aspect from the very first minute.

Klopp demonstrated this in his very first press conference when he identified the colossal role that an impatient but huge loyal fan base could play in the success of the team. He shaped expectations that day when he spoke about changing fans from “doubters to believers” and he also started talking about the heavy burden of past successes.

He identified immediately that an impatient, doubting crowd could “infect” the team on the pitch, to the extent that they would be playing nervously, petrified of any mistake – this had become a big problem at home matches in the past.

A month or so later Liverpool were losing at home to Crystal Palace and with five minutes to go fans started to leave the ground – he took a big risk and made a big deal of this after in his press conference.

He spoke about it being a “lonely moment” and the point he was making was very simple – if you want us to win these games, support us to the very end of the match and anything is possible. This was a huge message he was sending to the fans.

This brings me to what I consider as being the biggest moment that has contributed to the success that we have enjoyed in the last few years and it came in December 2015, a few matches after that Crystal Palace game.

We were playing at home against West Brom and with minutes to go were trailing 1-2 against this mid-table team. Burdened with history, me and most other fans were most likely thinking “typical Liverpool“.

Because of the gentle scolding that he had given to fans just weeks earlier they stayed till the end, never gave up and it worked!!

In stoppage time Divock Origi scored an equaliser and the inevitable did not happen – Klopp went wild, the team went wild and the fans went wild. The match finished 2-2.

Drawing at home to West Brom, 2-2 is a poor result for Liverpool but the last minute response when all felt lost warranted a huge celebration.

If you stay with us until the last minute and keep supporting, then anything was possible.

Klopp had coached the fans about what he needed from them and to crystallise this moment he grabbed the team and led a “bowing” session in front of the fans in the famous Kop – this was a huge acknowledgment, a thank you …you got us that goal!!

Klopp was hugely criticised in many quarters for this disproportionate celebration – we drew with West Brom, not won a cup, after all.

The idiot James McLean called Kloppa bit of an idiot“, making this exact point.

Klopp explained what he was up to after in his press conference:

There was a big misunderstanding against West Brom. I wanted to say thank you to the supporters after that game so I took my team towards the Kop to do it and there was a discussion everywhere about it. For me, it was ‘why should we even discuss that?’

“But I had to learn that English people are not used to that kind of thing”

“I wanted to show that we really we are one unit, 100 per cent one unit. That means I know I am responsible for the performance, but the people are responsible for the atmosphere.

“So it should be a win-win situation. When we play well, it’s easy to get the crowd going and when we don’t play well, we need you to encourage us – get on your feet, tell us ‘come on’ – you have to be the stars then.

“I want us to have the best atmosphere in world football and there is no limit to what we can do actually”

From that moment on Liverpool have won so many matches in the last few minutes, when all seemed lost and the fans were there to witness such exhilaration. And at Anfield since then we have pretty much won every single match.

As a fan there is nothing better than that last minute joy and I’ve been lucky to have been at Anfield to witness the incredible end of match atmosphere where we had last minute winners against Borussia Dortmund and Everton, both of which were huge games.

LIverpool celebration against Barcelona

Last season there was a similar celebration when we incredibly beat the mighty Barcelona, 4-0 on the way to winning the Champions League.

That gesture against West Brom in December 2015 was the moment we won the league..

How much does the right mentality matter in your business?

Greg

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service Marketing, PR, Graphic Design and Digital Marketing agency with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grrrrrr…..Great Presentation

May 31, 2020

Bert

This week in the middle of the Covid lockdown we found ourselves presenting to a really great prospect, one of those who was thankfully staying positive at this time and looking for ways to engage with their target audiences.

We had a briefing meeting with them before the lockdown, we got a really deep understanding of their business and the challenges, we brainstormed with the team and we had written a good solid plan with a mix of tactics and some new initiatives that would deliver their objectives.

As with all other meetings at this time we were presenting to the prospect via Zoom with me in my room (the kitchen!), Deirdre in hers (the music room), one of the other team members in their home and the prospect in theirs.

Little does anyone know, but when Dee starts work each day in this lockdown period the two dogs, Honey and Bert wait patiently and when she heads into the room to take her space on the couch, each of them follows suit and chooses a space at either side of her and relaxes for the day, not making a peep except for the intrusion of the postman or delivery man – little Bert lets them know in no uncertain terms that he is the “protector” of this house!

At this stage the two dogs have sat through numerous team meetings, webinars, client presentations and I believe they are the first dogs to attend the Cork Chamber board meeting – that took 200 years to happen!

Anyhow, we were presenting to this prospect and Dee with buckets of professionalism and enthusiasm led the charge through the very detailed proposal – the problem as we saw it, the tactics that we were recommending that should be employed and the “BIG Driving Idea” that we felt would really make this business stand out.

As Dee presented the “BIG idea” she was getting very enthusiastic and animated and as one does her hands were moving accordingly.

Just like the prospect, I and my other colleague were watching Dee on screen and listening to her but we could both hear a very definite “Grrrrrrrrr….. sound”, which was quite unusual.

It was Bert, our gorgeous rescue dog who without doubt was walloped badly in the early stages of his life and since then he gets very protective when he sees hands coming over him.

Dee, quite oblivious because she was lost in the presentation continued with her enthusiastic delivery and again we heard another very definite “Grrrrrr……“.

At this point I had to tell Dee to stop moving her hands around as poor Bert who was alongside her, out of screen shot, could be heard quite clearly pitching in!!

The prospect didn’t mind at all, and if anything it made everything a little more real and genuine.

This Covid lockdown time has been quite unusual and it has asked a lot from all of us. It has made us all very far apart, and in very strange ways it has also brought us very close together, maybe too close!

A big thanks to that prospect, to our team and to everyone else, who despite the awful circumstances made a decision to drive forward and still do positive things when the opposite could have been the easiest thing to do.

During the last recession I found myself using this word a lot….#Positivity

It’s time to get back to it!

Greg

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service Marketing, PR, Graphic Design and Digital Marketing agency with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

 

Will cities survive the coronavirus?

May 20, 2020

Will cities survive the coronavirus?” was the headline that I read in a section of the New York Times called ‘Debatable‘, written by Spencer Bokat-Lindell.

In the article it mentioned that: “nearly 40 percent of adults living in cities have begun to consider moving to less populated areas because of the outbreak”

It went on to specifically mention how in some of the main cities in the U.S. that populations had already decreased, mainly due to lack of affordable accommodation, pre-Covid (New York, LA and Chicago were mentioned).

While the headline about the “demise of cities” might scare everyone and cast a dark cloud over city living, maybe it should be viewed in a positive light?

We should be living or commuting to our cities because we choose to or because it is absolutely necessary for our work or study – we shouldn’t be living or commuting to our cities to complete tasks that could just as easily be done anywhere else.

Is this the time for us to decompress our cities, allow them to breathe again, and allow us to really enjoy them, living and visiting, not because we have to, but because we choose to?

Greg

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service Marketing, PR, Graphic Design and Digital Marketing agency with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

HR – A story of two very different team philosophies

April 27, 2020

HR in a crisis

We all know the story .. on the 12th March, the country was effectively shut down except for essential services.

It was a time when each and every single employer in the country had to figure out really quickly what they needed to do to protect the business during this uncertain shut down period – how long would it go on for, how many bills do I have, how much money do I have in the kitty, how much do I need to survive?

All huge questions and with no simple answers and no playbook to refer to.

What we did next reflects who we are, who the business is, our values, our ethos.

A week later, I checked in on a good friend of mine who worked as a baker in a coffee shop (part of a  small but well known chain) around the corner from our office, just to make sure that he was OK.

What he shared with me was a tale of two very different HR philosophies and two very different approaches to their employees.

On exactly the same day he was given notice by his employer and his partner who manages a creche was also told that her place of business was closing because of the “lock-down”.

However, there was a huge difference between both.

In his case he was “left go”, unceremoniously with no guidance towards where he should go to for supports and no word as to what his status would be when this “pause” was over. Effectively it was a P45.

In her case, she was also left go temporarily, but with absolute clarity that her role would still be there when things returned to normal, she was guided towards the supports she needed and the employer set up a WhatsApp group so that the team could stay in touch during the lock-down.

While both of these scenarios were identical, they couldn’t be any further apart.

I have sadly heard of so many cases where loyal employees were just cast away on the 12th March, with virtually no concern as to how they would put food on their tables next week.

Your team are your business, and how you treat them will absolutely determine how successful your business will be and how deep your team will dig for you when needed.

When the lights come back on, I know of a great guy and all of his colleagues who will be looking for a new opportunity, and I know of a great gal and all of her colleagues who be delighted to get back to work and will dig deep for their employer when the chips are down.

What type of employer are you?

Greg

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service Marketing, PR, Graphic Design and Digital Marketing agency with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland