Archive for the ‘Communications’ Category

Barcelona – Be Tough or Be Gentle?

August 18, 2017

Barcelona Attacks

In the wake of another wave of awful terrorist attacks we sadly end up watching what seems like a repeat news cycle – how many dead, how many injured, any from Ireland, hunt for the terrorists, interviews of witnesses, speeches by politicians.

It goes on and on.

Social media is full of it with news items, pictures and videos by witnesses and news sites followed by the Tweets and Facebook posts from politicians and other key figures offering condolences and declarations of shock.

We all jump in with our own tuppence worth.

It feels like there is nothing really that can be done if someone ‘with enough intent‘ wants to jump in a car, van or truck and plough into innocent citizens going about their ordinary lives.

How can we combat this?

What makes this person hate so much or carry such a set of beliefs that this is something they are willing to die for?

Barack Obama (the most retweeted tweet ever) very recently reminded us of a very profound statement by Nelson Mandela.

Why was this retweeted so much?

Barack Obama Nelso Mandela tweet

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With the Barcelona attacks, United States President Donald Trump offers his condolences with some special advice, which reflects his particular personality and approach to life:

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Is being tough getting us anywhere?

Do we need to work a lot harder at understanding each other and being more gentle?

Greg Canty 

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

 

 

Consumer confidence stats and avoiding self fulfilling prophecies

August 14, 2017

Consumer Confidence

I just received an industry update from one of the key business sector publications in Ireland.

It led with a headline about “Consumer Confidence” statistics.

It went on explain:

In the last month, two key indicators of consumer confidence in Ireland and the UK have been released showing a decline in confidence since the first quarter of 2017

In went on to discuss Ireland: “In Ireland, the B&A consumer confidence tracker found that whilst consumers remain positive, the levels of this positivity have fallen from the optimism shown in the first quarter of the year. This was particularly true for consumers within Dublin, who showed a significant decline in this period

It then went on to discuss consumer sentiment the UK: “In the UK, market research firm Gfk’s consumer confidence index fell to -12 in July from -10 in June. According to Reuters despite low levels of unemployment, household’s assessment of the economic situation was a major component of the decline in confidence for this period

It then summarised both positions: “It is clear that the uncertainty around Brexit has continued to affect consumers and the B&A and Gfk trackers will be a good measure to keep an eye on as negotiations progress

While thankfully they avoided a negative headline the piece did leave me in a negative frame of mind.

While this information is valuable the way it was delivered only succeeds in making everyone who reads it pessimistic about the future and behaving conservatively.

Suddenly ‘negative consumer sentiment‘ becomes a self fulfilling prophecy with industry reacting negatively and so on and so on.

I am not for softening up bad news but when we deliver negative statistics we need to communicate a full story that is never as bad as the potential doomsday outcome in our heads, unless we want it to be.

Greg Canty 

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

 

 

Making sure that ‘Great Taste’ is never lost

August 3, 2017

The Great Taste awards, described as the ‘Oscars’ of the food world are organised by the Guild of Fine Food.

They are the acknowledged benchmark for fine food and drink, and when a consumer sees the Great Taste logo on an item it is a sign that they will be buying a great tasting product.

This year (2017) Food and drink producers entered 12,300 products with 4,347 earning 3, 2 and 1 star ratings of which 444 originated from Ireland.

Overall just 165 products earned a 3 Star rating and 1,011 a 2 star rating with Irish products well represented in both of these categories.

PatWhelan, james Whelan Butchers - Great Taste Awards

The Golden Forks (the big winners) will be announced at a celebration dinner at the International Park Lane Hotel, London on the 4 September.

Great Taste, values taste above all else, with no regard for branding or packaging. Whether it is gin, biscuits, sausages or coffee being judged, all products are removed from their packaging, wrapper, jar, box or bottle before being tasted. Furthermore the judges have no idea the price that these products normally retail at.

It’s all about the taste!

The judges then savour, confer and re-taste to decide which products are worthy of a 1, 2, or 3 star award.

As you can imagine the judging panel is very illustrious and this year it included; chef, food writer and author, Gill Meller, MasterChef judge and restaurant critic, Charles Campion, author and Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen chef, Zoe Adjonyoh, baker, Tom Herbert, and food writer and baking columnist, Martha Collison, as well as food buyers from Fortnum & Mason, Selfridges, and Harvey Nichols.

These esteemed palates have together tasted and re-judged the 3-star winners and will finally agree on the 2017 Top 50 Foods, which will be announced in August, with the Golden Fork Trophy winners and the Great Taste 2017 Supreme Champion unveiled on the 4th September.

Just Taste!

Judging the food and drink products on their taste seems very fair and as you would expect – the packaging and branding is removed so that the judges are able to experience the products in their pure, true state, without any interference or bias.

Sunnes Stores - Sticky Toffee Pudding

When do we ever, truly taste anything?

The minute that award winning cake goes into a wrapper, it changes the taste for the consumer.

  • Once we see the packaging, the colours, the type of paper and the visuals, it changes the taste.
  • Once we see the brand name, it changes the taste.
  • Once we read where the product is made and we see the ingredients, it changes the taste.
  • Once the product is placed in a retail outlet, it changes the taste.
  • Once we see where it is placed in the store, it changes the taste.
  • Once we see some POS and the product displayed on a promotional stand, it changes the taste.
  • Once a price is put on the product, it changes the taste.
  • When the product is on special offer, it changes the taste.
  • When a well dressed sampling person invites you to taste a thumbnail of the product, it changes the taste.
  • When we see that the brand is endorsed by a well known personality, it changes the taste.
  • When we see adverts for the product in a newspaper, it changes the taste.
  • When we see adverts for the product in a glossy magazine, it changes the taste
  • When a respected food journalist tells you the product is superb, it changes the taste.
  • When we open the pack at home and we are in a great mood, it changes the taste.

Today’s consumer is influenced by everything they see, hear and taste. We are also influenced by a lifetime of experiences, good and bad, by our peers and we all carry with us a lorry load of biases.

With great products our job and the job of everyone else in the chain that brings the product to the consumer, is to make sure that person can actually ‘taste’ the product.

The Great Taste Awards and that big round logo that you will see on products will also help!

Congratulations to two of our clients, James Whelan Butchers and Simply Better by Dunnes Stores who scooped up Great Taste Awards, once again this year.

James Whelan Butchers are Great Taste 3-star winners with their Pork Lard, a natural and clear lard made from slowly rendered back fat, with a “fabulous long lasting and clean pork flavour” – it’s all about taste!

Greg Canty 

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

 

You look good!

July 31, 2017

I’ve just received a connection request from a person on LinkedIn.

I don’t recognise the person’s name and they describe themselves as being the General Manager of a company.

On the face of it, maybe a good person to connect with?

But….

..the person’s profile pic (not that young) is a selfie of them wearing shades and a baseball cap, pictured alongside another person. They are clearly having fun at some event and in their eternal wisdom have decided that this pic was a good one to use for their profile.

I am fascinated by LinkedIn and must admit that most users seem to have figured it out, and are quite good at putting their best foot forward.

However, I am still seeing oodles of accounts with typos, all lower case for their name, no description of what they do and really poorly chosen photos – holding a pint at a function does not make a great business photo!

LinkedIn is your personal, business website – it’s not Facebook!

Think carefully about the image you choose for yourself (and those in your team) as we all tend to judge each other by how we look.

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion Communications offer Social Media Consultancy and Training from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

Expressing what you think of others..

July 3, 2017

Trump

Sometimes when you make your feelings known about others it can end up saying even more about you than it does about them:

Trump tweets

Be careful what you say online..

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

 

Doubters to Believers

June 28, 2017

Jurgen Klopp - Doubters and Believers

When Jurgen Klopp took over as manager of Liverpool FC in October 2015 he made a huge statement to the worldwide fan base through the media with a simple message:

We have to change from doubters to believers

Jurgen is clever, he quickly picked up on the mood at this famous, previously successful club and he knew that very often it is strangled by the quick loss of faith by the fans if something doesn’t go the team’s way on the pitch during a game.

The fans groan “same old story“, “we’ll throw this one away“, “that fella’s useless” ..when that negativity creeps in it spreads like a virus and before you know it everyone is a doubter.

Fans stop cheering, fans leave early, players get nervous, they choke, fans stop attending, the team starts losing, corporates stop entertaining clients at games, sponsors move on, the best players at the club want to leave and others don’t want to come to the club, success gets further and further away.

Jurgen understood this and from the beginning he sent messages to fans in his press conferences, in the match programmes and during the games he encourages them (by gesturing frantically!) to support and scolds them for not doing so – at a match that wasn’t going according to plan at the very beginning of his reign he scolded the fans who left early in his post message press conference – you can play your vital part in the success of this team.

We are all like Jurgen with the teams that work with us, with our customers (or clients if we are being posh) with those who we would like to be customers and all other stakeholders.

We have to change them from Doubters to Believers.

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 most important person to health in Ireland is an IT man!

May 21, 2017

Richard Corbridge, HSE, EHealth Ireland

There was huge interest in the Dublin Chamber, morning event hosted by solicitors Mason Hayes Curran because the speaker was Englishman, Richard Corbridge who is the Chief Information Officer with the HSE and CEO of eHealth Ireland.

The very public hacking of the computers of the NHS in the UK brought the Cyber Security topic into focus and this fed an even greater interest than usual in this Dublin Chamber event.

While I was expecting a big talk about Cyber Security from the affable and very engaging Richard I ended up hearing something much more important, I heard about ‘First Dates‘.

Richard used this fantastic ‘first dates‘ analogy to describe how essential it is that the health system in Ireland needs to wake up in 2017 because quite frankly, first dates are no longer acceptable.

This simple point struck a huge chord with me.

Very recently I attended a ‘huge’ and incredibly serious consultation with a senior doctor with a close relative. At this consultation, the topic was of the gravest nature and literally half of the session was spent with the doctor flicking through various papers and asking the most basic of questions in an attempt to bring himself fully up to speed so he could deliver the best medical advice.

As I sat there I couldn’t help thinking that not only was a lot of valuable time wasted by this ‘paper’ system but the margin for error is just colossal.

When you meet a doctor for the first time (when you are born?) this should be the only first date you ever have to experience. Everyone else along the way should have your full medical history at their fingertips so that they have the full story and all of their valuable time and energy should go into the best possible diagnosis.

Richard spoke about many things including the huge positive changes that have been experienced in some of the maternity hospitals where this IT vision has begun and also some incredible improvements with certain medical conditions such as Epilepsy directly as a result of technology.

He also spoke about his committed team, who pulled out all stops to make sure we didn’t suffer the same fate as the NHS. He needs to bring this team with him and expand it to achieve what is needed.

Richard’s enthusiasm for his vision is infectious but it is clear that he is trying to achieve this vision in a mammoth, understandably slow-moving public sector organisation. My sincere hope is that he receives all the support that he needs and that he digs deep and stays the course because it will be frustrating.

To achieve this vision Richard needs to communicate it over and over as eloquently as he did last week both internally and externally and he must not stop until his vision has been achieved.

The irony in all of this is that the health of Ireland rests in the hands of an Englishman who isn’t even a medical doctor!

Richard…thank you, but please, please, don’t give up, we won’t allow you to!

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

Why you should change as little as possible in the first 100 Days

April 30, 2017
Donald Trump signing executive orders

The first 100 days – there is a lot of talk about this and seemingly it has become a great way of assessing the success of a new President in the United States.

Why?

The media are locked into a frenzy about this “100 Day” thing and we all eagerly join in the conversations and somehow buy into this crude assessment of the new President.

Is this a really great yardstick of success and a good sign of what more is to come from the remainder of that person’s four-year term?

In the earliest days of his Presidency we saw Donald “Chump” Trump buying into this, breaking into a sweat signing as many Executive Orders as he could …”look at me, how great I am, look, look, I really mean business and will change the world and show everyone how a real President does it“.

It was quite awful watching the circus around this crude display of power.

100 days on after a frustrating “birth” poor Mr. Chump is now giving out about the American Constitution and blames it for hindering real progress and as always he turns his anger at the media and accuses them again of fake news.

His popularity has fallen since he took office and he really hates that because this bully still wants people to think he is doing great – sorry Donald, that isn’t happening!

The craziest thing of all is this fascination with “100 days”.

Apparently, the term was coined in a July 24, 1933, radio address by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, although he was, in fact, referring to the 100-day session of the 73rd United States Congress between March 9 and June 17, rather than the first 100 days of his administration.

However, it is a lot sexier if we apply the “100” to the first days of the Presidency so this measurement tool caught on.

A good measurement tool?

Managing a super power nation must be incredibly complicated and no matter who you are, no matter how well briefed you are, and no matter how intelligent you are I can imagine those big decisions should be taken in a very considered manner.

From my career experience of having been in business a long time and having managed many companies and worked for many companies, I shudder at the thought of any boss wanting to make as many changes as possible in this initial period.

I would feel an awful lot better if this person would have the sense to listen, learn, take stock and only when they have a full grasp of a situation do they start to make any changes. I have found that even the seemingly obvious things that look wrong can often have very good reasons why they are in place and cannot be changed easily.

I imagine that Donald if he had allowed himself the time and not been a pawn to the media his own bravado persona might have gone about things quite differently.

Next time for the safety and benefit of everyone in the world let’s judge the President positively when he makes no changes in his first 100 days.

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

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

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