Archive for the ‘PR’ Category

Balancing those debits and credits!

November 11, 2013

Work, Life Balance

Where did that time go?

31 years ago this boy was a raw, innocent 18 year old working as a junior accountant in a mid sized accountancy practice on the South Mall in Cork. At this stage I was two months into my apprentice and I was learning the basics.

Ironically, I had done Economics and Business Organisation in secondary school so Accounting was brand new to me!

For every debit there had to be a corresponding credit was the golden rule – if you got that, your accounts would always balance. If they didn’t balance something was wrong and you had to search for your mistake.

It’s probably easier for everyone now with the computers and the accountancy packages – we had to do it all manually with ledgers in my day. Imagine trying to dig through that lot to find where you went wrong..

I was in practice for 6 years and then went onto industry and eventually swapped the accountancy role for a general management one and that was the official end of my debits and credits (except for my own projects at least).

That debits and credits discipline always stood to me and I do think accountancy and the privilege of working with so many businesses at at a young age was the best business degree anyone I could ever hope for.

You listen and learn from clients, you understand the drivers of their businesses and you use your expertise to help them. In many ways I do exactly the same now except the expertise is quite different and I don’t have to worry about those debits and credits.

The strange thing is that life is full of debits and credits and it too must balance and if it doesn’t something is wrong.

I’ve been working hard all morning …. head out for a nice coffee

My crew work their socks off ….  take them for lunch on Friday

I’ve been stuck in that proposal for hours …. time for a stroll and fresh air

We’ve been working hard all year …. where will we go for our Christmas party?

Work, work, work …. spend time with friends, meet the kids, visit the folks

Busy doing stuff for everyone else …. get tickets for that gig

I’ve been working my socks off all year …. maybe a new car at the start of the year?

Whatever you do today make sure you balance your books!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

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

The Single Biggest PR Tip – Never Waste a Good Story

August 7, 2013

Great Story

From all of the work we do with clients and our collective experience and expertise we can offer you one simple piece of advice about PR, one Golden Nugget that you need never look past..

“Never waste a Good Story”

This is a really simple guiding principle to apply, no books or no huge science required, just a straight forward case of Never Waste a Good Story.

Bring PR onto your business agenda, into your plans and objectives, into your management meetings – Ask the question “Do you have any good stories that should not be wasted?”

Once you realise you have a good story and you’ve decided you don’t want to waste it, that’s where the process, the science and the fun starts..

Get that story out there!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion 

Fuzion are a PR firm in Ireland with offices in Cork and Dublin

Is your credit controller losing you business?

July 29, 2013

Dirty Harry

Collecting money from customers must be one of the toughest and most awful jobs that you have to do in business.

I remember when I was in the drinks industry years ago we had a full time credit controller and I really believe that the nature of her role made her age really quickly. She was the one who had to stop deliveries to slow paying accounts (often this meant a battle with the sales reps and the sales manager) and she had to deal with irate customers.

The poor woman was sick quite a lot and I really put this down to the stressful role she had.

In particular in a small business it can be even more difficult when often the person who does the selling is the same person that does the collecting.

We received an email last week from a supplier who was looking for payment. Payment ran a few days over the standard terms because I was on leave and hadn’t left enough signed cheques. This was no bother and we sorted a cheque out immediately, a few days later than usual.

What really bothered me was the nature of the email, the tone, the lack of manners and a total lack of respect for us – after all we are a customer and to be honest a good one who gives them plenty of business and we do adhere to the payment terms.

My gut reaction was to change suppliers, which I did not do. However, a phone call from a similar supplier pitching their wares at the right moment and I would be listening actively.

I Love Credit ControlThis email was a real pity because the supplier is generally great to deal with. My crew are forever praising them and I know would kill me if I dropped them to use someone else.

I sent the credit controller an email and politely took issue with her manner and explained how it does jeopardise the business that they are doing with us and probably other customers of theirs.

I was speaking to another business owner who explained to me that they have an automated “email writing” system to deal with their credit control. He says often people get irate about the emails they receive because the language used is very blunt and to the point.

I received an automated letter from my bank recently more or less telling me to get my accounts in order as a dormant current account had run €2.50 overdrawn as a result of bank charges ..lovely!

How you collect money is an essential  part of your business reputation and while you have to get paid for the work you do it is important that you do this with courtesy and manners, never undermining your good reputation and all of your hard work.

You don’t need to give any customer an excuse to consider moving to a competitor.

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

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

Celebrity Twitter Etiquette/Power

July 14, 2013

Lucinda Creighton

@LCreighton “well done for standing by your principles – we need more of that and not less in govt. You will be back” 

I don’t know Lucinda Creighton, I don’t have full knowledge of her arguments but I do admire that she stood by her principles on an important, high profile piece of legislation. She didn’t fall in with her political party on a crucial vote and as a result she had to resign.

I sent the above tweet (you can do this once you have her twitter ID, which is easily found by doing a simple search on twitter) just to acknowledge the stand she took – I gave her a public compliment.

A tweet goes a long way ….. or in some cases just an acknowledgement goes an even longer way.

With twitter, when it comes to individual users I guess there are two broadly different types of users:

  • Celebrities and personalties (I would include some politicians in this category) who naturally attract a larger following than they would follow themselves
  • You and me!

You and me are the mere mortals who pick away, follow people and organisations we are interested in and if we want to build a following we need to publish interesting content, we need to be polite, engage in twitter conversations and generally apply a degree of etiquette with our activity.

This might include acknowledging people who have followed you, following people back, thanking people for positive posts and replying to people who have mentioned you in a post.

As part of your “nice guy/gal” routine you might retweet worthy posts and when someone retweets something for you then you thank them.

The actions here tend to be quite reciprocal – if you are good to someone then you tend to get the favour returned (there are always exceptions!)

Celebrity Factor

Stephen FryWhen there is some “celebrity” factor with a twitter user these normal rules do not apply.

This kicks in when this person is popular because of the role they hold (singer, actor, sportsperson, media person or even a politician) – more people will naturally follow them by nature of their “celebrity” factor and as a result popularity (size of following) does not depend on them behaving in the reciprocal way that applies to the rest of us.

A celebrity (using our broad definition) can effectively build a large follower base on twitter without following, interacting or acknowledging anyone.

However there are clever celebrities online (I’m suspecting this reflects their personality) who really get it.

They understand the huge power that they have at their disposal and they know how to utilise it – the good ones will do this naturally with no agenda and as a result they will excel and achieve something most of  the other “celebrities” will waste and over the long run actually do themselves possible reputational damage.

If a celebrity has a huge number of followers who are posting incessantly it is very difficult for them to engage but with smaller numbers of followers they can accelerate their popularity and like-ability by doing a few simple things:

  • Reply to positive posts – “thank you for the kind words” or even “thank you for all the kind words of support I received tonight” . The acknowledgment can be done directly to the individual (this is the best) or a general one – “Guess who came back to me on my post?” you can imagine the person saying to pals when their favourite celebrity replied to them
  • Favourite positive posts – simply click that “favourite” button to acknowledge that the post meant a lot
  • Retweet the positive post – hit that RT button and in a sweep highlight the positive post and deliver a huge acknowledgement to the person who posted it
  • Follow the person –  this is the ultimate compliment to the person who posted positive things
  • Surprise tweet – keep an eye on favourable tweets about you (just do a simple search on your name) and if you have the time thank them or make some comment – this tip is compliments of my son who says it works great with some of the bands he works with

By doing a few simple things the “celebrity” could accelerate their popularity and positive reputation and very easily win a loyal fan for life (most will not do this, which presents an even bigger opportunity for those who do)

Rachel AllenI have noticed online that a few celebrities in particular are quite good.

Rachel Allen @rachelallen1 has been good to come back on a compliment. Brian Kennedy @kennedysinger came back on a positive post after a gig as well as Mundy @mundyirl, Mark Geary @MG212 (better on Facebook) and Richie Egan (Jape)  @richiejape.

All of these by being respectful and clever are high in my estimation.

I have noticed a few that have been quite poor including the fabulous musician Gemma Hayes @gemma_hayes and the Newstalk breakfast team Chris Donoghue @chrisdonoghue and Norah Casey @norahcasey (this is strange as they always make a big deal of their twitter presence).

I listen to their show every morning and instead of giving themselves the opportunity of building their brand loyalty they are undermining it by ignoring listeners who tweet them. I’m sure if they realised the negative effect and the opportunity missed by not being more proactive they would be more responsive.

Lucinda Creighton had a busy day today and we can excuse her but she does have the power to considerably enhance her reputation by replying to the many people who said positive things about her and those who wished her well.

Celebrities …it’s up to you!

You and me….we have no excuse – we have to do the hard work.

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

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

Flying solo or wearing the team shirt?

April 13, 2013

LinkedIn Posting

I don’t want them as one of my contacts” he said “why should I?”

I was in the middle of a social media training session with the team from one of our clients and it looks like we stumbled upon an awkward moment!

During these sessions I carefully work with the full team and we determine carefully what the objectives are for their social media activity.

The team had agreed that “raising awareness” for what the organisation does was a big issue and they were going to use social media pro-actively as a vehicle to spread the word.

We were in the middle of a practical session on LinkedIn and we discovered that the person whose account we were using for demonstration purposes had a large number of ignored connection requests.

But I don’t know them”  he said

Here you have people wanting to connect with you and you are ignoring them” I explained ..”not only are you losing an opportunity to connect and spread the word but you are giving the organisation a bad reputation by ignoring people

Hmm … The room was silent, he wasn’t budging!

How about, accept the requests, thank them for connecting and ask them how their business is going ?” ….. “after all, it’s not a marriage proposal” – I was trying my best!

Nope … nothing doing.

I had done enough talking and cajoling for one session so I left it – at the end of the day it is up to each organisation to set a policy for their use of LinkedIn.

The thing with LinkedIn is that people don’t connect with Greg Canty , they connect with Greg Canty, Partner with Fuzion. You and your role in the organisation are locked together as part of your identity.

The team may argue that their LinkedIn presence is their personal space – while this is true they are also wearing the team shirt and should turn up and play for the team.

What do you think ?

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

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

Trust, the Restaurant and the customers who forgot to pay

March 20, 2013

Caravan Park

The couple arrived back at the Irish camp site and realised that they had left the restaurant without paying their bill.

They told the camp site manager who rang the restaurant and spoke to the manager of the restaurant – “no problem, thanks for ringing” …the couple could pop in the next day and settle up.

Twenty minutes later the restaurant owner (no stranger to dodging bills himself) arrived at the camp site accompanied by three Gardai looking for his money from the couple.

The whole incident was highly embarrassing for everyone … the couple handed over the money (I’m guessing they didn’t tip!).

The camp site manager never recommended that restaurant to his customers again, he still operates a good business and lives to tell this incredible little story and the restaurant has long shut down..mostly PR and your reputation is about what you do yourself.

Must be a lesson in all of that somewhere!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Lance, Flawed hero and the Power of “Sorry”

January 20, 2013

Lance ArmstrongI’m sorry for what I have done” said Lance as he glanced across at Oprah with those steely eyes.

It was the most fascinating interview and you may not have have liked what was he was saying but he did come across as being honest..even to the point of admitting that he was and probably still is a “jerk“.

It’s hard to know how to feel about the whole episode – I had a big discussion with my son Brendan, about the whole thing.

He totally disagrees with me!

I’ve got a simple view of Lance Armstrong ..

The Sportsman

I reckon anyone who is at the very top of their game must be extremely driven and obsessive about what they do ..it could be soccer (Roy Keane, a typical example), ballet, politics, writing, anything. If you are not obsessive you just won’t be at the very top.

Lance Armstrong who admitted he operated a  “Win at all Costs” mentality rose to the pinnacle of a sport that has been riddled with drugs and illegal practices for as long as I can remember.

Did the authorities that run professional cycling allow an environment and culture that made these illegal practices possible?

My simple question here is – did Lance practice harder and do drugs better and more effectively than all of the other cyclists? 

The Cancer Survivor

Lance Armstrong - Cancer SurvivorHe beat the odds against cancer and once again he became a winner.

He even managed to commercialise his story and the cancer journey by capturing it in books that inspired people all over the world with his “don’t give up, win” mentality.

More than once I have heard people quote his book as helping them through tough and very dark times (just last week, Chris Donoghue, Newstalk presenter)

The Charity

Livestrong FoundationUsing the power of his iconic status he formed the Livestrong Foundation charity raising money for cancer research and once again inspiring sick people the world over with his drive and inspiration.

The Cheat, the Liar and the Betrayal

We all know at this stage how much he cheated (it’s not right, but were they all at it?) and we know what a great and convincing liar (over and over he did this) he is.

The very worst of all was how he betrayed close friends, colleagues and team mates and in many cases tried to destroy them professionally and personally to protect the huge Lance Armstrong brand that he had built. He even went as far as suing people who were telling the truth just to protect himself.

This part is truly unforgivable and despicable – I really don’t know how anyone could do this.

Maybe the brand was so big and invincible that no one could handle it? Could he handle it?

Lance Armstrong is an incredibly driven individual who scaled huge heights, achieved incredible feats and managed to do a lot of good but he is incredibly flawed and is guilty of doing some terrible things.

The Power of Sorry

Lance Armstrong & Oprah

I’m Sorry …

The great thing about having a public profile (the Sean Quinn interview with Vincent Browne comes to mind) is that you will always have an audience for “sorry” – in Lance’s case he was able to have the largest possible audience with Oprah.

He said “sorry” and it gave him an opportunity to connect with a huge audience. I watched it and I did empathise with him.

Not everyone will forgive him but many will …some other viewers might just soften their attitude towards him a little.

There is huge power in the word “sorry” – always use it..

Lance Armstrong, the flawed hero – have we seen the last of him? I doubt it!

Sorry!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion with offer Crisis PR services for clients from our offices in Dublin and Cork.

The Influence of Social Media in Politics

October 26, 2012
Romney and Obama - Presidential Debate

I must remember to tweet that !

A big thank you to Lillian King for sharing this really interesting and valuable infographic about the influence of Social Media in Politics, which is very timely before the US Presidential Elections.

After all they reckon that Barack Obama was the first Social Media President ever! (Facebook is credited as playing such a major part in his campaign four years ago)

Have a peep through the very interesting stats and tables shown at the bottom of this post.

The one number that grabs me from the stats is that “In Senate races the candidate with the most fans gets elected 81% of the time”.

Does this mean they were the most popular anyway, or does it mean they connected with more people by using social media effectively helping them to get  elected – not sure?

Ireland

For me in the Irish scenario it really bugged me that so many politicians wanted to be “my friend” before the election and now they are nowhere to be scene.

Social Media isn’t a trick – it isn’t a one off opportunity to achieve a specific goal  (however this may occur as a once off).

Social Media, for politicians (or businesses for that matter) is an opportunity to build a following, an opportunity to communicate genuine messages, values and beliefs – in this crazy world of ours an opportunity to cut through the BS, show where you are on key issues and let people see what you really stand for.

When the election (Christmas!) is over ….grab that opportunity

Social Media Election

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion offer Social Media Training and Social Media Consultancy from our offices in Cork and Dublin.

Ray of Sunshine

September 7, 2012
Vision Express - Search for a Star Pupil

It’s all go !!

Our Dublin troop weren’t available so I found myself and Dee on a Saturday morning at 6 am with the car pointed in the direction of Belfast!

Our job was to oversee a clever Vision Express initiative at their store in Belfast – basically Vision Express were searching for a “Star Pupil“, a kid with a sense of style, bags of attitude and someone that was a star pupil in school.

We knew it was going to be a long, long day – after our “spin” to Belfast from Cork we had the initiative to oversee from 10am till 5pm.  The brief was to find 60 willing kids (with their parents permission of course) who would pose for pictures with a professional photographer and then answer a few questions. The kids had to be between the ages of 3 and 15.

With the help of a great promotional girl we had to grab up to 60 kids at the shopping centre, get their parents consent and then pass them to the photographer who had to do his best to encourage them to pose for photos wearing either their own glasses or some really cool ones that we had on display. Glasses have changed!

Once they were finished with the photos they had to choose their favourite (tough job!), which was then printed for them to take away. While helping them to choose their photos I had to ask them a few questions to discover their attitude about glasses and to find out some stand out moment from school.

Kids are great …. we had shy ones, bubbly ones and very honest ones!  “What was your proudest moment in school?” I would ask. Let’s put the question a different way “What day in school did you really feel good about yourself?” Some would look at you as they contemplated this question as if I had two heads !!

The day we get our holidays” …. I must admit, good answer!

We did also hear about how proud they were on their first day at school, when they were made class prefect, when they helped a friend who fell in the school yard, when they were awarded the most improved child, when they did well at the sports day ….some great kids, all kids are great – it was fun, but it was tiring.

I was astounded at their attitudes about people who wear glasses – for many they are  now a “cool” fashion accessory and even those who don’t need glasses wanted to wear them.

Things have definitely moved on so far from when I was at school!

India - Ray of Sunshine After a few hours of standing in the shopping centre on a warm day my batteries were starting to flag and then I met the most special girl.

A concerned mother gently grabbed me by the arm and quietly whispered that her kid had a deformed (if I am using the wrong term I apologise) arm and hand that she was very self conscious of. She suggested that I might have a quiet word with the photographer.

I looked over at the girl being photographed and was surprised to see the most animated, confident and bubbly girl effortlessly moving from one great pose to another like an experienced model – surely this wasn’t the self conscious girl?

When I looked again I did notice one arm slightly shorter than the other and a hand that effectively had no fingers – no bother to this girl as she threw her arms in the air for some of her poses.

She bounced over to me, I’m guessing she was about 12.

My name is …” – by a country mile she was the brightest and warmest kid I dealt with throughout the whole day. After she had chosen her pictures and answered the questions she helped her younger sisters through the same process. This kid was incredible, she had the most generous, fun spirit and there was the biggest ray of sunshine just beaming from her with every word and every smile.

Before I knew it I was home ..

Special girl.. thank you for the sunshine and making a long day so much shorter

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion are a PR firm with offices in Dublin and Cork

Sometimes are you better off not saying the right thing?

August 19, 2012
terrible names for a business

Must be a great shop!

At this stage between the initial briefing meeting and the time spent researching and working on the plan we have spent well over a day’s work before we meet with the prospect and present our Marketing\PR plan for his business.

This is always a tricky stage for us – if you want to have a chance of winning the new account you have to punch in the time, put in the research, brainstorm and put all your best ideas and thinking into the plan.

We don’t get paid for this but we do obviously hope that the client likes what we are proposing and then engages us to execute the plan for them – Put your best foot forward if you are serious about winning the business.

We are two hours into our presentation and the prospect seems to be embracing the plan and it is all looking very positive. Our plans are always quite comprehensive and cover everything from being found on-line, a review of marketing collateral and website, a PR plan including ideas that should generate the right media coverage and a social media plan to accelerate all of these efforts.

At the end of the presentation, while everything seems to be going well there is one huge, risky issue that we wish to discuss.

We feel your business name isn’t right” we gently explain to the prospect. This could be as delicate as telling someone you don’t like their child’s name!

But what about my website, my branding, the money I’ve invested to date in advertising, pushing the name out there?” he asks.

It is saying the wrong thing about your business, it is giving the wrong impression of what you are about” … he seems to be digesting and contemplating what we are saying , so we continue “we feel strongly that we would be doing a huge disservice to you if we drove on with a plan without first addressing the issue of your business name“.

After a few minutes he admitted that he always had some concerns about the name “fit” and we were the only (maybe foolish?) ones he met that had raised the issue.

We presented him with some alternative names that we felt more accurately captured the essence of the business offering and he seemed genuinely interested in them.

In truth we could have made life easier for ourselves and probably for him by just ignoring the business name issue and presenting a plan that was in keeping exactly to the brief.

He asked us to leave the plan with him to mull over while he went on leave and we are still waiting to hear…

Sometimes are you better off not saying the right thing?

(p.s. – We’ll let you know how this one turns out!)

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion are a PR firm with offices in Cork and Dublin