Archive for the ‘Cork’ Category

A Tale of Two Cities and The Cork Opportunity

January 7, 2017

One Albert Quay, Cork

With busy offices in both Dublin and Cork I am in the privileged position of witnessing both cities up close and personal and with the nature of our work we get close to many of the key issues and challenges.

In Dublin I am a Council member of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce and in Cork I have been working on various marketing initiatives for the region so I guess I have a unique perspective. The recent Connecting Cork initiative by Cork Chamber has the city proactively connecting with our business diaspora around the globe.

Undoubtedly, there are terrific opportunities but there are also big challenges that must be addressed if we wish to seize them and Cork can play a pivotal role in ensuring that these opportunities stay in Ireland.

We hear the fantastic headlines on the news everyday about the many companies announcing new jobs but we also hear about how much demand there is for housing and the limited supply of high quality office space in the locations that contemporary businesses and their talented employees want to be in – high quality, accessible urban destinations with an attractive lifestyle mix.

While unemployment levels are half what they were at the peak of the recession the headlines are dominated with news of sky rocketing rents and the resulting social issues due to the huge imbalance of supply and demand for housing. The brave ‘Home Sweet Home’ campaign with the occupation of Apollo House has just put a huge spotlight on the issue of homelessness, which is in part a consequence of an improving economy.

So, it doesn’t always quite feel that we are succeeding.

While I am hugely proud of Cork, my hometown it is vital that Ireland has a strong, effective capital city to rival any in Europe. As part of my role in Dublin Chamber of Commerce we regularly feed into briefing documents and housing has been clearly identified as the number one issue for Dublin followed by infrastructure.

At the moment, it feels to me that Dublin is “broken” and it needs radical fixing so that the opportunities that present themselves can be seized without causing further problems for those living and working in the city.

The government for obvious reasons were unable to prime the development context to support the housing, office and hotel development that urban Ireland really needed. It also failed to really get to grips with the major infrastructure deficit in Dublin and we are now in major catch up mode.

To complicate matters further the management of the city of Dublin is totally fragmented, which makes cohesive planning and effective action extremely difficult.

The private land and property sector can shoulder some of the blame but there are huge tracts of brownfield land and property owned by State Agencies in Dublin, which should have been primed for development in 2012,13 and 14 for delivery now.

We talk about the genuine opportunities for Ireland as a result of Brexit but you must question if we could honestly cope with them if they came to fruition. If we are struggling with major issues for those living here now, are we crazy to be still talking about attracting even more businesses and talent?

Getting the companies here and then trying to sort out homes, schools and transport for the people afterwards will not be that easy.

ireland

While we proudly proclaim that “Ireland is the best small country in which to do business” we are in real danger of this message changing to “Ireland is the worst small country in which to find a suitable home“.

We need to be really careful because this message will catch on and once it does it will be very difficult for us to change the it.

This is where I believe Cork can step up to the mark.

In my hometown, something exciting is happening. Cork, has been progressing well with office, hotel, retail, leisure and community projects completed or under construction and at the same time public realm improvements are helping to present Cork in a better light.

However, Cork is also facing housing and infrastructure challenges but like any smaller ‘entity’ we should be more agile and flexible with the capability of reacting quickly as long as we have the genuine will to do so.

If Cork is positive and works diligently, cleverly and cohesively we can position the Cork ‘Metro’ area of some 500,000 people as Ireland’s only genuine second tier European city region full of innovative and creative people who are hungry to succeed.

Cork would then be in an ideal position to provide solutions for Ireland that Dublin will be unable to provide.

Cork can and should complement Dublin, adding more depth to Ireland’s global offer, helping IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and the private sector to attract and retain businesses and people in Ireland and helping all to grow and succeed.

We now have real critical mass in global growth business sectors including technology, agribusiness, bio-pharma, tourism plus business services so a person can enjoy a great career along with other benefits.

Living in Cork is unquestionably a fantastic alternative with cheaper housing, cheaper office space, superb education, little congestion, the amazing countryside and coastline plus you can access Dublin, the rest of the island plus the global hubs of London, Paris and Amsterdam along with 50 other European cities easily. Into the bargain, we will soon be able to fly direct to the US.

Our most precious asset is the very special quality of life that is second to none in Cork, which many clever people, domestic and foreign, have already figured out. So many people who locate to Cork just don’t leave!

We have this superb opportunity and it is within our grasp once we are proactive and accelerate the development, infrastructure and marketing of the Cork region. House building must be front of centre with this agenda to ensure that we can provide all of our current and new citizens with suitable homes.

While Cork is “Big on Life” it needs to be just as Big on Action if we are to seize the opportunities that are there, right now.

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Promoting Cork in London and Leadership

September 26, 2015

Cork - BgOnLife

We were delighted to have won the tender with Cork City Council to support them with the sponsorship of and participation in the FDI Forum in London, which was run by the Financial Times.

For me it was a great opportunity as we had been a key part of the work on the Cork Brand Marketing team, which involved literally all of the Cork stakeholders who wanted to market Cork with one consistent voice. This forum was the first expression of this work where we were able to use findings and language from the Cork brand book that we helped to develop.

#BigOnLife

With all marketing you need to do your very best to deliver a clear message that helps you to stand out in some way. From our work it was clear that Cork is very attractive for business as it works Economically, there is a strong, well educated Talent Pool, it has an abundance of great things to see and do (locals and tourist offering) and the Quality of Life is second to none in our fantastic region.

This is a ‘perfect mix for business and personal success‘ with a special emphasis on the person. You can achieve your career and business goals in Cork and at the same time enjoy a fantastic quality of life. This for us was the extra special, stand out ingredient that Cork has to offer and even though our region is relatively ‘small‘ we have quality of life in abundance.

If you were to use a tagline to highlight this most special characteristic about the Cork region then ‘Big On Life‘ might just be it!

Brochures and other marketing materials had to be prepared and printed so it was first time we could give our ‘Big On Life‘ message a test run.

FDI Forum - London

London

A strong contingent left for London including senior people from Cork City Council, Cork Chamber, Cork Airport, Developers, and significant businesses all with the intention of flying the flag for Cork and attracting foreign direct investment to our special place.

Cork Chamber organised a dinner in London to bring this team together and to invite some key members of the Cork business community in London (the IIBN network) as well as officials from the IDA.

Cork Chamber president Barrie O’Connell made sure that everyone introduced themselves to the group and then quite cleverly sparked off a conversation about Cork by asking a few people to speak on a topic. This generated a huge and very fascinating ‘Cork‘ conversation about a wide range of topics and issues and helped for all of us to hear different perspectives and to learn.

Michelle Conaghan of the IDA gave us an insight about how they work and their challenges and how competitive the market is. She spoke about the importance of sector clusters, which is important for a talent pool but she also mentioned that the ‘life‘ package is important.

We learnt from the Irish guys working in London about how expensive it is and how global businesses must look at other locations.

Donal Sullivan of Tyco spoke about evolution. Years ago they reduced their numbers in Cork for cost reasons but now the nature of their work is different so Cork is relevant again. He is on a huge recruitment drive and he says the talent pool in Cork and Munster is great but most interesting is the ease of getting people to relocate from Dublin.

The Cork operation is the best performing one globally from a staff retention point of view – I wonder why?!

Cork Chamber president Barrie O’Connell spoke about tax advantages nearly being gone and it is the other factors that must now come into play to attract investment to Cork.

Cork Chamber CEO Conor Healy spoke about the need for ‘ambassadors‘ who will spread the word about Cork and that we should focus on the positives with Cork Airport, the good news and the potential. He is right.

Niall Sheehan, Head of Property from Dairygold who have a huge office development about to start in Cork spoke about the compelling facts about Cork and that we should be more confident about the strength of our offer.

Roger Hobkinson (the adopted Corkman!) from Colliers International who led the Cork Brand Marketing project spoke glowingly about participating in activities such as the FDI forum as a vehicle to promote Cork and bring the brand book to life. He also spoke about the importance of urban locations as being key when promoting a region.

Jonathan Grey (who is very excited as he has bought a house in Cork) of the IIBN who is working and living in London spoke of competition for FDI from regions in Scotland, England and Wales. The new London flights to Cork will be an advantage. He coined a fantastic phrase “you can live in Cork and do business with the world” – I love it!

We heard from John Cleary of JCD about the key messages that he uses when he is attracting American IT companies to Ireland. Lower cost is a big advantage in Cork but quality of life means that staff retention rates can be a lot higher, which is another big selling point. From his conversations connectivity to the U.S. is a big deal so the recent announcements about Cork Airport are very welcomed. He also stated the obvious about Ireland – “people will look at Dublin first”. Cork is a very viable and compelling alternative.

Theo Cullinane of BAM (a Cork sports star with some unique achievements as we discovered!) also spoke enthusiastically about the super quick work they are doing at One Albert Quay for JCD. This will be an office development with the best specification in the country, which is what new companies are looking for.

Pat Ledwidge from Cork City Council who led the participation in the FDI Forum spoke about how Cork, now has “product to sell” so it must gear up its marketing efforts abroad.

Ann Doherty, Chief Executive of Cork City Council emphasised the cost advantages of Cork as well as the quality of life aspects.

Of course I had to get my few words in..

Dublin is a fantastic city with lots of advantages but it is heating up and it is starting to get quite costly. Cork presents a different and very compelling offer “The Cork offer makes the Ireland offer a lot stronger“.

The engaging conversation bounced from one side of the table to the other with each person talking enthusiastically about our ‘favourite place‘ until the restaurant staff politely gestured that it was getting late … it was past midnight!

Goodie Bags

Reader ..bear with me for a few minutes as I talk about goodie bags – this is leading somewhere!

We wanted to leave delegates at the FDI  forum with something different than the usual flyers and brochures. We decided that we would place a ‘Cork – Big On Life‘ box in each of the delegate packs instead of the normal so they would remember us!

We had handmade sweets from Cork, postcards and a few other little bits and pieces all to go in our ‘Cork Big On Life box‘. While this was a great idea it did however mean ‘Big on Hassle‘  as the boxes had to be assembled in London (no short cuts I’m afraid!) and filled.

Elmarie McCarthy from Cork City Council selflessly took responsibility for this monumental task along with everything else that she had to coordinate and her bedroom became a mini production line in the early hours of the morning (there was no access to the conference venue beforehand).

After the meal and the networking the Cork team that were staying in the same hotel took responsibility and pitched in and assembled and filled these boxes until 1:30 am. Well done to Ann Doherty, Pat Ledwidge, Conor Healy and Barrie O’Connell for jumping in, simply because a job had to be done.

The next morning there was a repeat performance – the Cork ‘Big On Life’ boxes weren’t going to magic their way into the delegate packs in the short window of time that was available before the event started  – there was no standing on ceremony and our leaders took responsibility once again, got to the venue early, jumped in once again and quickly did the job that was needed. I did help along with Roger from Colliers.

The FDI Forum

This was a fascinating day with a huge array of speakers and panelists as well as fantastic networking opportunity. Cork were there in force joined by Denis Collins of Smarter Dynamics, Kevin Cullinane of Cork Airport, Malcolm Allan from Place Matters (our destination branding guru who was fantastic to work with on the Cork Marketing project) and Doug Howlett from Munster Rugby all chatting to delegates and spreading the word.

Delegates

Cork was there proudly promoting ourselves along with other places such as Essex, Tblisi, Cyprus, Jersey, Melbourne, Lousiana, Singapore and Qatar.

I had an interesting chat with a delegation from Essex – they have a team of five people working for them proactively in the marketplace seeking opportunities as well as a Marketing/PR team supporting the communications of their message. They take a sector by sector approach and have identified four different ones to target. Promotion of your region is now sophisticated, big business and if we want these opportunities to come to Cork we need to gear up.

Ann Doherty - Chief Executive Cork City Council

Ann Doherty represented Cork superbly on a fascinating panel discussion and I am convinced that she must have worked in sales at some point because she didn’t let one opportunity to slip by to highlight what we have to offer here!

A lot of tired and weary Cork folk made there way to Heathrow airport to take the last flight home. 20 minutes after landing I was at home and I reflected on our little excursion (our airport is so incredibly fast and convenient).

As a proud Corkman I was privileged to have been part of this work and if this FDI community hadn’t heard of Cork before they certainly did now. Cork did itself proud in London and all of our various stakeholders need to do much more of this together. Individually we are all ambassadors for Cork and familiarising ourselves with our Cork brand book is a great starting point to stay on message with what our region has to offer.

The most impressive aspect of the London trip for me was the huge sense of pride and togetherness demonstrated by everyone, including our leaders and that willingness to take responsibility and do what was needed.

Cork .. #BigOnLife

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion PR, Marketing and Graphic Design, with offices in Dublin and Cork

 

Cork Merger – A poor process has us all scrapping

September 19, 2015

Free-State

When we worked on the Cork Marketing Project I was so proud and excited that all of the stakeholders were working so well together and that we made great progress towards our collective goal of attracting people and investment to Cork.

So many people told me this level of co-operation just wouldn’t happen in Cork and I genuinely didn’t believe them – I had faith!

Now I am deeply saddened to read in The Irish Examiner this morning about all of the opposing views and in particular today the bitter war of words between the Cork Chamber and the Cork Business Association as well as local politicians.

The Cork Chamber are “all for the merger” quoting the benefits of greater capacity and a unified voice and the Cork Business Association are against it declaring that you cannot ignore the strong advice that came through in the minority report by the two UCC members who were on the committee charged with making the recommendations in the first place!

Guys …this is really lousy for Cork!

I have my own strong opinions about what should be done but at this stage I don’t really care about my opinions or anyone else’s because I feel the process which was adopted with such monumental consequences for so many of us Corkonians was not fit for the huge purpose that it was intended for.

I have gone out of my way this week to find out more by talking to many of the people involved and everyone has deep rooted opinions, lots of suspicions and theories, very opposing views and I am definitely not seeing anything in place that will sort out this awful situation in the near future.

Personally I can’t believe the insubstantial make up of the CLRG committee (it lacks sufficient expertise), the research undertaken can be challenged too easily (I don’t believe the committee had sufficient time or resources to do this properly), there seems to have been very little ‘real‘ consultation and I can see issues with the recommendations as I understand them (Read my blog post – Cork Merger Drama).

Most significantly the minority report prepared by Prof Keogh and Dr. Theresa Reidy (effectively 50% of the committee excluding the Chairman) totally undermines the whole process and cannot be ignored. I believe this was sufficient grounds for not publishing the recommendations until their concerns were properly dealt with.

Even worse my understanding is that there is no mechanism in place to take the recommendations from the report (maybe there is huge merit in many of them?) and evaluate them robustly by people with the appropriate expertise, assessing the benefits and potential downfalls of each. In particular this assessment must deal with all of the valid concerns and issues raised by the various stakeholders in Cork who for many years have been representing our many and varied interests.

Their opinions, experience and expertise are too valuable to ignore.

If the process was robust with all aspects and arguments considered and with all parties brought along then we might start to get some understanding and agreement and only then, move positively into the future.

The last aspect is dealing with those directly affected, namely the many employees in Cork City and County Councils who also deserve a very robust process, which they can understand and believe in.

I don’t think for one moment that this will be all plain sailing or that we will end up with agreement on all sides but as with any change programme it should at least be both transparent and robust and it must bring people along carefully.

Hand Grenade

To summarise what has happened is that a poorly thought out grenade has been thrown into Cork by the Minister and his team, the pin has been removed far too quickly and we are the ones who will suffer as a result.

This process has already done huge damage to Cork and it has the potential to do even more if corrective action is not taken quickly.

My request to all of us including our Cork Politicians and our representative organisations is:

For the love of Cork can we please stop squabbling and instead focus on reversing this awful process with something robust that we can all believe in and one that will let us together move powerfully into the future”

We can’t afford to get left behind ..

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion PR, Marketing and Graphic Design, with offices in Cork and Dublin

 

Cork City and County – Merger drama!

September 10, 2015

Cork bridge

The report has been issued and in true ‘Cork‘ fashion it is a car crash of confusion and of course we couldn’t even get consensus among those on the small, tight evaluation panel!

A good friend of mine in Dublin who is in a position of authority in a powerful organisation tells me that “it’s pointless trying to get anything done in Cork because of the politics“.

This is sickening to listen to but is he right?

I eagerly awaited the reports in the local newspapers to try to get a grip on the issues and some sense of what is being recommended.

Maybe I am very simplistic on all of this but before delving into what they are saying we need to assess what we have currently in Cork:

  • A vast geographic area with a very definite large urban centre surrounded by a collection of rural towns and countryside
  • Urban issues and quite different rural issues to manage
  • A management structure where the city council is managing only part of the ‘effective‘ city and a county council which is managing a chunk of the ‘effective‘ city and a vast rural area with country towns
  • Two complete management structures with separate Chief Executives, Mayors and Councillors
  • One fantastic place that needs cohesive marketing with meagre resources (the best attribute of our city is the county and the best attribute of the county is our city)

So we have a real difference in types of issues, a real potential for duplication of overheads through two structures, politics at play and a hunger for power, history and how it has always been and a real need to pull together to achieve anything meaningful.

Alf Smiddy Alan Kelly, Cork City and Country Merger

I was hoping the recommendations would resolve this and before arriving at my own conclusions I wanted to soak up the feedback as it has been reported:

City Mayor Chris O’Leary reckons it relegates the status of the city – it will become one of ‘three divisions’ but with a larger better defined, more sensible catchment area

Micheal Martin, Fianna Fail leader  reckons the city will be marginalised and out voted – the overall Chief Executive will be in the County and the Deputy will be in the city, running one of three divisions

Cork Chamber of Commerce see it as being a “winning formula” but the Cork Business Association says it realises their “worst fears” …ah come on guys!! (Cork Chamber have a wider geographic spread than the Business association, which is mainly city centre, which probably explains the difference)

Ciaran Lynch, Labour TD feels it would “relegate the city to the status of a town council”

Significantly the two members of the CLRG  committee who vehemently oppose the merger (Prof Keogh and Dr. Theresa Reidy feel so strongly that they have produced their own minority report outlining their concerns)  state that “the two county divisions will be able to out vote the city” ..that’s not good I’m thinking!

Neither City or County Chief Executives are allowing themselves to be drawn on the matter but it is speculated that the more experienced County Chief Executive, Tim Lucey would get the senior role and Ann Doherty the City Chief Executive would become Deputy, with responsibility for the city.

The City Mayor, Chris O’Leary stated that the merger recommendations are “an insult to the people of Cork” – I’m not sure if too many would come up with that one in all fairness Chris!

When power and position are at stake it’s hard to believe anything that these guys will say – its logical that if they are losing something it is a travesty and if they are gaining then it will be the best thing since the sliced pan!

Even the ‘anti austerity‘ crew vowed to block the merger – basically they feel that urban working class communities will lose some of their clout

CIT welcomes the proposal and Cork County Council issued a statement saying “it would create jobs“. This is a funny one as if anything it should eliminate duplication.

The very wise, commercial and practical Alf Smiddy the Chairman of the process said things I would expect such as “more can be achieved with combined resources instead of divided responsibility” – ok, now someone is talking sense.

Cork County Hall Statue

It was now time for me to review the proposal to see where all this reaction was coming from.

  • One clear structure that achieves resource efficiency, eliminates duplication and creates a real synergy of purpose and intent would be fantastic for Cork – I’m not seeing this in what is recommended. I see divisions and power hubs.
  • One merged entity makes sense as long as we have a robust structure to manage this large area and one that takes into account the very different issues between our core urban centre and our rural areas – The proposal of three divisions, one city and two rural is sensible if these are management units and not power bases. This is not clear and I don’t like the word ‘divisions’.
  • The power structure (as opposed to management structure) between the divisions will cause big problems as they seem to be power bases with “votes” – the opposing members of the committee should really be listened to here
  • In my opinion the city must always be at the ‘core’ of the region and must not be relegated in any way to having a secondary voice. The urban area must be the economic driver and must never run the risk of being minimised in any way. This is not clear in the plan at all, which is a big worry.
  • Our region must be marketed as a cohesive region both to tourists and economically. Three divisions will not be a viable proposition and there must be a provision for one cohesive marketing team. I didn’t see this in the plan.
  • Politics and power games are clearly at play which will confuse all of the feedback
  • There is a lot of fuss being made of the Lord Mayor’s position in all of this – am I the only one who views them as just ‘nice’ figureheads?
  • It is clear that there are huge divisions and differences in opinion and we need to tease all of these out fully before we have any chance of moving forward

Based on what I have read and heard it is clear to me that there are major issues with the recommendations that cannot be ignored.

We need to put politics and power games aside, patiently work through all of these issues, address the real concerns and for once pull together as ‘Cork’ so that we can manage our fantastic place effectively and embrace all of the many opportunities that are available to us.

I want to prove my friend in Dublin wrong!

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion PR, Marketing and Graphic Design 

 

 

 

Tourist for a day and Cork Hospitality

August 3, 2015

Family doing the South Parish Cork Walk

After a day stuck in the car in torrential rain in West Cork with my brother, his wife and their two young children who are visiting from the States we decided to play it safe and stick to Cork city today.

We popped into the tourist office on Grand Parade and after a really friendly and helpful chat with one of the team there, we grabbed some brochures and opted for the South Parish walk, one of four excellent walks mapped out around the city centre. This walk had particular significance as it is the area where my mother grew up.

Saint Fin Barres Cathedral, Cork

The walk is really interesting and easy to follow from Daunt Square, past Bishop Lucey Park and up to Saint Fin Barres Cathedral with excellent signposting and information on each of the main sign boards. The literature provided gives even more information about each of the places and the route.

Elizabeth Fort, Cork

After Saint Fin Barres we headed to Elizabeth Fort, which has recently been fully opened to the public. This free to visit fort provides incredible views right over the city and the friendly volunteers on duty gave us a great welcome. Just outside the fort is the oldest bar in Cork, The Gateway bar,  which is nestled alongside some of Cork’s oldest houses (late sixteen hundreds).

From here we crossed Barrack Street in search of the house where my grandmother grew up. A friendly taxi driver who noticed we were searching for somewhere gave us directions to 77 St. Kevin’s Square.

We ambled up the narrow old Cork city streets and came upon the square. A man who was walking alongside us overheard us chatting about number 77. “Are ye alright there” he asked with a tiny hint of suspicion. “That’s my house” he said.

I explained that this used to be the house where my grandmother grew up. He was confused “It’s been in my family since the fifties“. It looked like his family, The Coleman’s moved in after the McCarthy’s!

Family at 77 Saint Kevin's Square, Cork

Very quickly suspicion changed to a hearty welcome “Come on in and I’ll show you around“. Tim Coleman, an absolute gentleman opened up his home to us and showed us how it would have changed since when my grandmother would have lived there. He offered to take a photo of us all outside his home and off we went.

Nano Nagle's grave, Cork

Our Cork adventure continued to Nano Nagle’s grave at South Pres, which will soon be ‘Nano Nagle Place‘ after the redevelopment work on the site is completed. A huge sense of peace descends on you when you enter this sacred little graveyard where Nano Nagle and the many Presentation sisters are buried.

Coughlan's Bar, Cork

Our journey finished with a visit to Coughlan’s Bar towards the end of Douglas Street. The barman there was a credit to Cork and his profession – he was kind and gentle to my brothers two kids offering them wooden puzzles and a bag of crisps to keep them occupied! This would have been one of the watering holes that my granddad who lived at 55 High Street would have drunk in many moons ago.

We had a great day in our fantastic little city and as usual the Cork people played a starring role.

Well done Cork, you did me proud!

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR, Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

Michael Cawley, Cork Airport and “What’s the Point?”

May 2, 2015

Cork City

It was my first time listening to Cork born Michael Cawley, the Chairman of Failte Ireland and former Ryanair deputy CEO and Commercial Director. He was speaking at a business anniversary breakfast for Paul O’Donovan and Associates, Accountants.

Everyone is a product of what they do and Michael a former accountant and a senior member of the Ryanair team for 17 years is certainly a product of his career.

At first he spoke a lot of sense and he believes that everything starts with great management. He spoke about Dubai “a hole in the ground” and how great management has turned the place into a major travel destination.

He then spoke about the Irish tourism and hospitality sector, which employs 205,000 people. He reckons this could easily rise by another 50,000 but says we must ‘elevate’ how we view the industry and start respecting the work that people do in it.

Cork Airport – hopelessly uncompetitive

He then went on to talk about the €17 landing charges at Cork Airport that he says makes the airport “hopelessly uncompetitive“.

He expanded on this by talking about the Ryanair perspective “The passengers belong to the airline, not to the airports. The airlines will seek to make money, whether that is in Bari or in Cork“.

While this message was delivered with all of the arrogance you would expect from a Ryanair executive it gives you a clear insight into the thinking of airlines that are removing routes from Cork Airport.

However he makes a good argument and suggested that if the airport wants to compete for traffic it must drop the rates, suggesting that the region could even subsidise it because passengers will spend significant money when they visit. We must look at the big picture.

All of this makes perfect sense and those running Cork Airport need to start listening and start to view Cork as an economic gateway to our region instead of a stand alone cost centre. If this requires some write off of the debt then it will be no different to so much other debt that has been written off in Ireland over the last five years.

Michael Cawley, Failte IrelandMichael went on to give some general business advice to those gathered in the room “You must define your competitive advantage to be successful

He explained that in Ryanair’s case “price” was it and this was achieved by relentlessly driving down costs .. airport landing charges is clearly a big part of this and in Cork’s case it is easy to see how we are losing Ryanair routes to Shannon and other locations.

He also spoke about the importance of “innovation” and in his view driving costs down is the ultimate innovation – I don’t agree with this as I detest what Ryanair represent and I hate how they have wrecked the flight experience, which was a ‘treat’ many moons ago, even if it was a lot more expensive.

Bring back the peanutsI say!

Michael joined the panel at the end of this breakfast briefing whereby guests were able to ask questions – I asked the question “What did the panel feel was the unique selling point of Cork?

Michael took this one on and gave the room his very worrying opinion of Cork – We should get over ourselves and realise that we are not as special as we think. All talk of us being a “competitor” in a European context is silly as Ireland is really about Dublin.

..I couldn’t believe I was hearing this

Even worse he reckoned that it was pointless for money to be invested promoting Cork as it was not a proposition worth promoting.

When a Cork born Chairman of Failte Ireland holds this view it is very concerning – who is going to subsidise Cork Airport’s costs/landing charges (as he suggested) if no one believes it is a region worth investing in?

Michael …

I 100% disagree with you and as much as I respect your role and your ‘cost squeezing’ experience I think you and your colleagues in Dublin are misguided.

Cork is a very special place for both tourism and business as we witnessed in our research on the Cork Brand Marketing project and a few others have noticed too ..

Lonely Planet were the first to start talking about our ‘friendly city’ and the Huffington Post included Cork in a list of “Overlooked European Cities you must visit in a lifetime

Please take a fresh look at the place that you were originally from and ask the question..why are we so overlooked?

All of us in Cork, our business and tourism groups, our stakeholders and politicians need to start making a lot of noise if we want something in change.

As for Michael…thanks for the helpful insight

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

 

Neil Prendeville – Game Changer for Who?

February 24, 2014

Neil Prendeville - 96FM, Redfm

When your main rival steals your prize asset it will no doubt be a Game Changer – for who depends on yourself.

This week we saw Cork’s Red FM, the second most popular radio station in the city make a bold, brave move by securing the services of popular and often controversial DJ Neil Prendeville from their local dominant rival, 96FM.

Neil is extremely popular because he is a brave DJ who isn’t afraid to take on issues and give his opinion. Many love him, many will tell you they hate him but most importantly for Red FM, many many listen to him. In terms of radio shows it is by far the most popular outside of  some shows on the national radio stations.

This was a huge move as Neil Prendeville, who has been with the station for 25 years has a large and loyal following, 116,000 listeners according to the latest JNLR figures.

While the move is an obvious game changer I wonder is it a game winner?

The listener profile of RedFM is much younger than it’s local rival and this move will certainly bring an audience that are not a natural fit for the current profile of the station.

Stevie G - Red FM Stephen GraingerUnfortunately this move meant that some great and very popular DJs in RedFM lost their contracts including the Cork music legend Stephen Grainger or Stevie G as he is known. Stevie G would have had a good following but unfortunately for him, nothing to match the pulling power of Neil’s show.

While the change will bring new listeners who will “move the dial”?- will it work overall for the station?

It is understood that Neil will operate his usual morning time slot, which will attract his loyal listeners but where will the younger RedFM listeners go to? I can’t really see them staying with the station as Neil’s show is quite different.

Ironically the success of this game changer depends on how 96FM react – will they try to find a like for like replacement, who I doubt will be able to compete with Neil or should they grab the opportunity to do something new, challenging and totally different and inject fresh energy to morning radio in Cork?

When a competitor grabs your prize asset it’s up to you to make sure the change works in your favour and not the other way around.

96FM, it’s up to you!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

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

Make sharing easy

November 24, 2013

Cork City Ballet

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

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

Playboy of the Western World - Cork Ballet Company

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

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

Two weeks, one match

September 29, 2013

Clare v Cork,  All Ireland hurling final 2013

He wasn’t in pain but hadn’t been eating and the large lump on his side was a concern.

Someone suggested a visit to the doctor and after a visit and a few tests last week the dreaded news was delivered – he was riddled with cancer, to the point of no return and he has about two weeks to live.

He was to go to the All Ireland hurling final with his son to watch his beloved Clare play Cork in the replay but he wasn’t well enough to travel.

Everyone in Cork is bitterly disappointed with the result but as they say “there is always next year

For one man, I’m really glad Clare won.

For the rest of us, treasure every single day even the ones when our team lose.

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion 

Cork Ghosts

September 5, 2013

Cathedral and Shandon - Cork

We are working on a project at the moment and as part of this exercise we asked people a very simple question: “What do you love about Cork?

As you can imagine we received all manner of responses, which are quite revealing about our great City and County.

One particular response from Fiona Whyte is worthy of special attention as it is so brilliant:

What I like most about Cork are the ghosts, the ghosts of the older city, guarded behind the imposing presence of Father Matthew.

Move away from Father, over the bridge, along the quays and up Shandon Street, you leave behind the modern city and its quest for sophistication. Here, in amongst ebony skinned youths and pink-haired girls, the ghosts emerge from steep steps and lane ways.

A man in a long brown coat tips his hat at me as he passes by and I swear it’s Frank O’Connor. Shop fronts cry out Polski. A teenage girl at the bus stop checks out her Facebook updates on her smart phone. But the buildings can’t cover their origins of decades and decades ago and everywhere the music of the Cork accent rings out loud, louder even than the bells at the top of the hill.

Going past the North Cathedral and down Cathedral Walk – my mother still calls it Chapel Lane – children in the school yard are shrieking as they fly from a pig-tailed pursuer.

Girls are whirling ropes and one chants rhymes as the others skip. I think she’s my grandmother. I learned those same rhymes from her, and No. 3, the house where she was born, is just nearby. Its walls have been recently painted white but this cover up of its natural grubbiness is temporary, I’m sure.

What’s more, I’m certain now that if I walk through the front door, beyond the heavy curtain which separates the three foot square alcove from the not much larger living area, I will be greeted with a welcoming if toothless smile from the tiny woman who inhabits the chair in the corner. Her white hair is pulled back in a bun. Her black skirts reach the ground and a heavy black shawl is wrapped tightly around her. She holds court from the corner, though she rarely speaks. But all eyes are trained permanently in her direction, for just above her head, perched on a sloping shelf, is the miracle box, a chest of moving black and white images accompanied by muffled sounds. My grandmother’s mother, she lived to be ninety-six.

Leaving Cathedral Walk, I turn back to town and treat myself to a Moroccan couscous lunch in Cafe Bendec. I look out the window, content that here on Pope’s Quay, amidst the scurry of vehicles and pedestrians, the ghosts continue their eternal patrol

Fiona ….wow!

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