Archive for the ‘Communications’ Category

Decency, Manners, Legends and Losers

October 19, 2017

Legends and Losers

I met him in a hotel in Dublin one morning to discuss the possibility of working together on a few projects – our service offerings didn’t overlap but they could be combined making a powerful package for clients.

When I got there he had already arrived and had his laptop open and was sipping on a water.

I ordered a coffee and another as we chatted for quite a while making sure that we both understood each other’s offerings so we could best explore how to package the combined service.

He seemed like an ok guy and besides the work we actually did, we spent some time chatting about our teams, what motivates us and our general philosophy about business.

All was going well and after about two hours of in-depth discussions it was time to wrap up our meeting.

I went to pay and I asked him what he had ordered so I could pay for him as well “Don’t worry about me he said, all I had was tap water” he said.

An alarm bell went off in my head and a thought struck me …You miserable thing, sitting in their premises for hours, using their WiFi, using their space and having the audacity to order something for free!!

You had no problem taking from them without giving anything back, not even a tip to the waiter.

I paid my bill shook his hand and thanked him for his time and made a flash decision that I never wanted to do business with him as instinctively something felt wrong to me. To this day I have never contacted him again.

Was this me being stupid, unreasonable and quite dumb, walking away from a business opportunity because of what I perceived as a gesture of meanness?

I always look for decency and common courtesy in people – do they hold a door, let someone else go first, acknowledge the waiter, behave respectively to the receptionist, offer to pay?

In business do the personal traits of the people you deal with matter, as long as they are good at what they do – isn’t this the most important thing?

Legends and Losers

I was listening to another brilliant podcast by Christopher Lockhead and in this particular episode he was chatting about decency and character and ‘purpose before profit‘. When I heard the conversation it made me think of the meeting I had with my ‘tap water’ friend.

In this show he spoke about a business contact that he had met for lunch and how he distrusted him because of the lousy tip that he had left for the staff even though there was no issue with the meal. For him this was an important warning sign.

He mentioned the importance of good character in people as he found from his vast experience that ‘these people’ would always end up leaving you down when the going got tough and you needed them most.

Always listen to the signs – they rarely let you down!

Check out the fantastic and inspirational podcast series Legends and Losers  where Chris has the most captivating dialogue with business leaders each week.

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

 

 

Two sides of the “Change” coin

October 1, 2017

TakeoverWe were about to board a flight and I bumped into someone we knew as we joined the queue for the plane.

The company where he worked, quite a large and successful international business had just been taken over by another large business.

I was curious as to the changes that had occurred since the takeover and the impact this had on the people working there, the culture, the shift in values and direction and the resulting effect on morale.

He was thrilled with the changes – in his view the business was a lot more focused, there was now a strong performance management system in place and as a result this meant recognition, rewards and opportunities for the hard working individuals who were achieving.

He went on to explain that before the changes things tended to be more relaxed and rewards were shared equally across the business with top performers and poor performers all treated the same. Some bad habits has crept in and this was demotivating for many of the employees who had joined the business in the last few years.

The changes were great!

two sides of the same coin

When I took my seat on the plane I ended sitting next to someone from the neighborhood. Up until now our interactions never got past a friendly wave and chit chat about the weather as we walked our respective dogs.

On the hour’s flight the chat eventually came around to where we worked and it turned out that she was working for the same company as the person I met as I boarded.

She had worked there for many many years and from our conversation seemed to be very much part of the fabric of the place.

Curiosity got the better of me so I asked the same question about the changes since the takeover.

This time I heard a totally different story to the one I heard earlier.

The changes were really bad, the place wasn’t the same anymore, the business had got a lot more cut throat with an obsession about cost cutting and performance.

The new regime were forcing changes through, simple perks that many of the teams enjoyed were being withdrawn so their deep reciprocal commitment to the business was being withdrawn in equal measure.

The new owners just cared about money and not about the people, many of whom played a huge part in the success of the business that the new owners wrote a big cheque for. This was her view and she wasn’t a bit happy.

She spoke warmly about different instances down through the years that demonstrated the wonderful comradery that existed in the business and that warm “family” spirit that had everyone going the extra mile when needed.

Now it was all about the “young ones” wet behind the ears, all trying to impress the new bosses, who were running around the place with clipboards who cared about no one but themselves – the place had definitely changed for the worse.

If there was a package, she was gone !!

I would want both of these great people working for me.

Change can be a fantastic opportunity and it can be an awful threat depending on how the evolving culture suits you.

For the new owners it’s important that they take the time to understand the magic that exists within the business (that they clearly valued highly) and embrace this as much as possible as they develop an evolved culture, which will hopefully be the best of both worlds.

For the existing teams it’s important to understand that the new owners are different, that they will bring different attributes to the party and that they need to give them time and the opportunity to evolve together.

Leopards may never change their spots but if people are willing to listen and learn we can evolve together into something ever better.

The value of the new business will only be preserved if they recognise what is good, treasure it and make it even better.

Change is tricky but the results can be fantastic – great communications can play a special part in delivering these fantastic results.

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

The Right Hook needs a Left Hook

September 11, 2017

George Hook

Whoah ….another storm with another high profile media personality saying the wrong thing and BOOM, the backlash erupts.

This time (I’m referencing the Kevin Myers storm) it happened live on air and a filter was impossible.

George Hook, the successful and very popular 76 year old Newstalk broadcaster said way too much when he was discussing the ongoing case involving a 19 year woman in the UK who alleges she was raped by a former member of the British swim team.

While discussing this case he spoke about the ‘personal responsibility‘ of the rape victim, he spoke about “modern day social activity means that she goes back with him” and then he put his foot totally in the biggest bucket of crap when he said “But is there no blame now to the person who puts themselves in danger?”.

George ….oh my God what are you saying??

There was then some more insight from him when he spoke about parenting: “There is personal responsibility because it’s your daughter and it’s my daughter. And what determines the daughter who goes out, gets drunk, passes out and is with strangers in her room and the daughter that goes out, stays halfway sober and comes home, I don’t know. I wish I knew.

I wish I knew what the secret of parenting is. But there is a point of responsibility. The real issues nowadays and increasingly is the question of the personal responsibility that young girls are taking for their own safety.

Now George was trying to say something else and this point tells you a little more about his “lens” when he is discussing the topic.

Was there a simple message about being careful, that came out all wrong?

Quite rightly there was outcry from many quarters and this continues..

Colm O’Gorman, the director of Amnesty Ireland said on Twitter, “I get that @NewstalkFM wants to lead on ‘opinion led content’, but @ghook increasingly stupid, ignorant rants are grossly irresponsible.

Chris Donoghue, (who must know George quite well?) the group political editor at Communicorp, a media company that owns Newstalk, tweeted saying, “Someone needs to go to town on Hook. It’s disgusting.”

Needless to say George Hook has apologised and Patricia Station, Managing Editor said the comments made by Mr Hook were “totally wrong and inappropriate and should never have been made.”

On Twitter a poll has been set up to get George Hook off air and most of the tweets are calling for him to be fired.

One tweeter went as far as analysing all of the brands that advertised during the show and there was another group who were questioning Clayton Hotels for their sponsorship and suggesting that they should pull immediately.

Dalata Hotels (Clayton Hotels is one of the hotel brands) in the middle of all the twitter storm on Sunday tweeted “We will be engaging with Newstalk as soon as possible to terminate our commercial relationship.

While George was clearly wrong with what he said I wanted to discuss it with my folks, great people from the same generation just to test their perspective.

Not for one second did they absolve the rapist but they were very concerned about a 19 year old who would put herself in such a vulnerable situation. This generation do see things through a different lens in the same way that new generations will most likely see things differently to us. The word blame was not used once in their conversation and this is where George went totally wrong.

So……what should happen with the very popular, talented and opinionated 76 year old broadcaster (is this why he is so popular?)?

I don’t think he should be burnt at the stake and I don’t think he should be fired.

He made a big mistake and he should be given a big warning but I feel he should be allowed to continue as it is important to have valuable voices on air from this generation.

However, if George is to continue on air maybe the ‘Right Hook’ should be accompanied by a younger ‘Left Hook’  to maintain balance and help to keep that ‘lens’ always focused.

Update: 12th Sept

George Hook’s colleagues at Newstalk have written a letter to the station’s owners asking that he is removed from his position – this is not good.

Is this black and white that one cannot be forgiven for such a mistake or is there something else going on?

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

 

 

 

Podcasts and Super Powers

September 3, 2017

Super Powers

I was just after dropping my brother Colin and his family at Shannon Airport for their early flight back to the States.

I wasn’t quite in the mood for music as I faced that awful Limerick to Cork road so I searched some Podcasts that I had downloaded to pass the horrible journey.

First up was an interview with a former news anchor who has since specialised in Digital Marketing – I fully agree with the core theme of the conversation, which was all about discovering the passion behind the people and showing some personality and even a little vulnerability through genuine social media updates and storytelling via blogs.

The second podcast that took me all the way to my front door was an interview with a guy who worked as Head of Creative in an advertising agency.

The interviewer used a series of clever ‘quick fire’ questions to get to know this guy a little better and he asked a fantastic one, which I thought was really simple but also thought provoking and quite brilliant.

What is your work Super Power?” he asked this clearly successful Creative Director.

The answer he gave was one that I wasn’t expecting: “Resilience” he answered.

The interviewee went on to explain that in his career he received many knocks and push backs but he used all of these as ‘fuel’ to try harder and prove others wrong.

He also explained that in the course of his business he had lost many pitches to prospective clients – once again these just made him more determined to succeed next time.

He reckoned this try and try again  ‘Super Power‘ was his greatest asset that had led to career success.

Having someone on your team that is very resilient is definitely a huge advantage.

He also mentioned another ‘Super Power‘ which was his ability to survive on very little sleep, which he reckoned was also a big plus in the advertising industry!

The very unusual thing about these ‘Super Powers’ is that while they are clearly valuable they are things that you would never see listed in someone’s bio in a pitch document or on your website.

I really found this question to be a powerful one – as we are in the middle of updating the bios for our team I was struggling a little with descriptions that in some cases just weren’t capturing some of the special and most valuable attributes that our crew possess. I’m going to add a ‘Super Power’ description for everyone!

So…the valuable lessons that I learnt at 7am on a crappy Sunday morning – listen to Podcasts that might help you to learn something new and try to capture the ‘Super Powers’ of your team!

What is your Super Power?

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

 

 

 

 

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