Archive for the ‘Recession’ Category

Will cities survive the coronavirus?

May 20, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

Greg

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

 

 

HR – A story of two very different team philosophies

April 27, 2020

HR in a crisis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

However, there was a huge difference between both.

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

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

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

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

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

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

What type of employer are you?

Greg

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

 

A love of QPR, and a very non doom and gloom COVID19 economic perspective with Economist, Jim Power

March 30, 2020

Jim Power Economist

This week I had the pleasure of featuring economist Jim Power on my Win Happy podcast.

While COVID19 and the effect this would have on the Irish and World economy were big parts of the discussion, as always I wanted to dig a little deeper to find out about the person behind the expertise.

Jim spoke about his love of the land, which comes from his very happy life growing up in a farm in Waterford. While he would have loved to have stayed farming his career took a different path.

We chatted about why he gave up his “soulless” role in Bank of Ireland, his passion for Irish food and his concerns about the food supply chain, his role as Chairman of ‘Love Irish Food’, the other work that he does, his love of QPR and of course his passion for all things “Waterford”.

We did talk about the COVID19 crisis in detail and the advice he would give to the government to navigate its way through the crisis and preserve the economy.

He reviewed the government support package and thankfully he predicts an economic recovery.

Click here to listen to the full show

Greg

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

The Fear Virus and the Pause

March 19, 2020

The pause

Last night was the first night that I slept the whole way through without waking in a week.

The few other nights before that, ever since we were all told that schools, colleges, events and public gatherings were to cease for at least a fortnight, I was waking early due to the fear of the unknown. Yes this fear was about the health of those around us but most definitely it was about the effect that this time would have on our business, that thing that puts food on the table for us and our team.

I guess we are much better off than many in other sectors, whose doors were immediately closed leaving their businesses vulnerable and their teams facing an unthinkable and uncertain period when they don’t have the pay packet that feeds them and covers their high rents and mortgages.

This FEAR that had me waking, without doubt has all of these people wide awake and it is real, tangible and debilitating.

I got so angry when I read a headline today stating that a certain city manager made a statement that he wasn’t prepared to give any commercial rates break to businesses who were forced to close.

Has your pay packet been affected sir?” 

Maybe we can manage a week, maybe two, maybe three, but beyond that there are serious concerns that has everyone fearful, a debilitating fear that will be worse than any Coronavirus and one that can eat deep into your soul and your well-being if you can’t cope with it.

The only way the FEAR virus can be taken away, is if we know that none of us will be left hungry, that no one will be evicted if we can’t pay our rents and mortgages, that our credit rating won’t be affected if we can’t make loan repayments and that we will be provided for if our wells dry up.

As long as everyone in this complex money chain can be both human and realistic, and play their part during this “Pause” of normal activities then we will all be fine.

What has happened will pass, and the “Pause” will slowly change to “go” and normal activity will once again resume and we will all go back to working and bill paying as we have always done.

To their credit, our government is moving fast and seem to fully appreciate the difficulties caused by the “pause” and are putting realistic measures in place to ensure that everyone is looked after at this time.

Once we know it will be ok, we can start to sleep again and take this very unusual window of time to take stock, appreciate our friends and families, look after our communities and look forward to the day that we can step back on the treadmill of our normal lives.

Hopefully we will return to this normality with more kindness and acknowledgement of the precious lives that we enjoy and a much better appreciation for those that are vulnerable, not when it is a “pause” but all of the time.

This is a Pause, try to get some sleep.

Greg

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

 

 

 

The wisdom of Louis Copeland

March 25, 2018

Louis Copeland - Fuzion Win Happy Podcast

Sometime in 2004 I approached legendary Irish retailer, Louis Copeland to see if he was interested in coming on board with a high end fashion event called Catwalks that we were taking on tour around Ireland.

To be clear, I didn’t know him, I had never spoken to him before and after a quick ‘cold-call‘ (I can’t have been too bad a salesman!!) he asked would we call in to see him and tell him more about our event.

The following week we called in to see him and we were greeted by a warm, open, friendly Louis Copeland.

After about five minutes, when we were in full flight in the middle of our sales pitch he unexpectedly declared “I’ll do it” and then quickly changed the topic..”Tell me about you two?

We spent at least another hour with him and he showed a genuine interest in us, our project, why we were doing it and what else were we up to. When the meeting finished (more like a friendly chat really) I asked Dee if she thought he had actually agreed to come on board, because he had barely got details about the event.

This was the beginning of my great journey with King Louis, as I call him! (or King Louis 2nd – his dad was also Louis).

Since then he has come in and out of our lives at different times. He did the event on that occasion and supported us on many other things since. He seems to follow us with interest and he will always call out of the blue when he might read about us or hear something on the radio.

When the recession clouds gathered around all of us, I heard him being interviewed on the radio and he offered a powerful piece of advice as to how people should cope.

Get up earlier, work harder and work later” was his advice, and something that I embraced.

My own Monday morning social media mantra, inspired by Louis (for anyone who has seen my tweets for the last decade will confirm) is:

Roll those sleeves up, get stuck in and have a great week #Positivity”.

When I arrived to record the session for this podcast he probed and probed me to learn more about podcasts, the process, who is listening to them and why. His natural curiosity and openness is just one of the ways he always stays relevant and successful.

Louis is an inspiration, he is a mentor, who is always at the end of a phone to bounce things off and offer assistance or provide a helpful contact.

Fuzion Win Happy Podcast

In this podcast I’ve done my best to capture his story, the secret sauce behind the success of his great business, his approach to marketing, what he does to stay relevant, his approach to online and who his favourite celebrity customer is!

You can listen by clicking here, or by subscribing on iTunesThe Fuzion Win Happy Podcast

A huge thanks once again to the retail legend, Louis Copeland for being a good friend and for taking part and being so open and generous.

Enjoy…

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

 

 

 

 

The ‘Always Great’ boat

October 11, 2017

Always Great

Things are definitely much better than they were but something has also switched with everyone’s moods…

People are bouncing again – can you feel it?

Business seems to be coming in a little easier, moods have lifted, budgets have opened up and people are committing to Positive Costs and positive activities once again.

It’s not so long ago that we were fearful of asking people how business was going – it was one bad story after the next. Now they are starting to whistle!

We might begin to feel that we are better business people than we were a few years ago – we might feel this because the tills are ringing more than before. It feels good, it feels damn good, and therefore we must really be great at what we do as the results are there for all to see – isn’t this true?

But ….we need to be very careful and guard against even the tiniest signs of complacency.

We should most definitely enjoy this time but just as importantly, we need to stay objective and keep delivering our “A” game, even when it feels like our “B” or even our ”C” game might suffice.

When times were tough we had to deliver above and beyond to just survive – now it is just as important that we keep doing this, even when it may not seem as necessary.

There is a very welcome rising tide that is lifting all of our boats – Make sure your boat is called ‘Always Great‘ and that everyone on board knows exactly what this means.

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

 

 

Christmas Presents

December 1, 2015

Goat for Christmas

I love the sketch (see below) with Ricky Gervais, Steve Merchant and Karl Pilkington about Christmas presents – it’s that time of the year again and the subject of corporate gifts is upon us!

I remember the first Christmas after we had entered the recession I was dropping a small hamper to a client as a ‘thank you‘ for the business during the year.

The strangest thing happened – he turned me away quite awkwardly and refused to accept the gesture of thanks “not under the circumstances” he said .. “We are in a recession“.

To me I wanted to simply show our appreciation for the work and I felt the gesture was valid regardless of how the economy was going.

That was really the end of the Christmas business gifts as we knew them and even the sending of physical Christmas cards became an exception.

It was noticeable last year as the economy started to improve the gifts and gestures of appreciation started to slowly reappear and I tried to pay particular attention to the ones that impacted on me and the ones that had less impact.

At best the gift gesture should be an opportunity to show appreciation and even strengthen the business relationship – at worst the gesture will make no difference to you and might even make you feel like you are on a big database!

The Thoughtful Gift

This one is a beauty where the person meets you and gives you something they have really thought about, which clearly had significance to you – fantastic!

The Christmas meal

This is a powerful gesture but it is a really time consuming one. With special relationships it is invaluable – if you can break bread together in a relaxed setting then go for it.

The Homemade Gift

On this occasion the person makes something for you … It doesn’t have to be big or extravagant but it was made by them for you. This is an incredibly personal gesture and very powerful.

The Gift for all

This is the gift that you know is one of many. It is great to get a gift but always better if you know it came with special thought and effort. If this is delivered with a personalised card it works.

The Charity Donation

This is definitely a nice idea (it could even be a goat!) but it does rob you of that opportunity of giving something to your client.

The POS gift

The gift of a calendar or diary complete with their logo only works if it is something of genuine quality – if not then it is probably more about them than you .

The Christmas Card

The card alone can be powerful if the sender takes the time to personalise it with a genuine message. Some card is better than no card. Personalising is time consuming but it makes all the difference.

The ‘thank you”  message (email/text)

A personalised message (email or letter) with a genuine note of appreciation works well if there is no hint of it being generic. Written well this can be better than any card. This can even work as a text but make sure it is 100% personalised

The E-Card

The generic Christmas card sent by email was a real product of the recession – for me this is just jamming up my inbox and it has very little meaning. Some of these come with a note about Christmas opening hours, which is fine I guess.

I did notice that many of our business relationships weren’t acknowledged in any way – I don’t hold anything against any of these business partners but an opportunity was lost to say thanks and make these relationships stronger.

Christmas is that time of the year that gives you an opportunity for saying thanks and you shouldn’t waste it.

When deciding what gifts to give I wouldn’t worry too much about the monetary value, however I would go along with ‘it’s the thought that counts‘ sentiment and I would add Personalise with a capital ‘P when possible.’

If you want to show genuine appreciation then go for it!

Merry Christmas and thank you for your custom..

Greg Canty 

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

Housing Crisis or Housing Opportunity?

September 29, 2015

housing opportunity

I was sitting on a plane coming back from London on the late flight and I noticed someone a few seats ahead of me on the opposite side flicking through the newspaper. I hadn’t tuned into the news that day so I was trying to soak up the headlines as best I could to get some hint as to what was going on.

Headlines are quite dangerous because often they are designed to catch your attention and the actual content may not fully reflect the ‘story’ that is portrayed. You only discover this when you actually read the article but often we never get that opportunity as when we are busy we flick the pages of the newspaper and very quickly we start to consume the ‘headlines‘ as the actual stories.

This headline had the words ‘Housing Crisis‘ in it and as it would imply there must be a housing crisis. I have read these words in so much coverage lately that it would be correct in assuming that we have a big  ‘housing crisis‘ on our hands.

If you Google the words ‘housing crisis‘ you will get a mountain of listings with many published in the last few days.

When we read the articles you will hear about the lack of supply, small numbers of houses being built, negative equity, repossessions, rising rents, tighter controls over bank lending, NAMA and developers sitting on land banks and a looming homelessness crisis.

For the most part it is all negative rhetoric and that word ‘crisis’ is bring used over and over, so much so that we should all get depressed.

In any other industry if you were to describe this exact set of circumstances we would be using the words ‘opportunity‘ instead:

  • There is high demand for the products and lack of supply
  • The demographics indicate that this demand will sustain itself into the future
  • Prices are rising due to demand but there are also low interest rates and an improving economy
  • Employment levels and income are rising
  • Fulfilling this demand (10,000 units per annum extra) will create 25,000 extra jobs
  • More jobs means more ability to pay, creating even more demand
  • Demand will generate income for the government
  • Demand will stimulate growth in supporting industries

Why aren’t we using the word opportunity and looking at the upside and the huge positives?

If this was any other sector, businesses would be seizing the opportunities and they would be supported by the banks. If we could create 25,000 new jobs there would be all sorts of supports and incentives on offer by the government.

And what about all of the ancillary products and services? – the carpets, curtains, tiling, fittings, furniture and electrical sales which would come after all of the professional services. That would be a huge amount of economic activity.

When it comes to property we are suspicious, we are fearful it will ‘overcook‘ the economy once again and we feel that any incentives given to consumers will be abused by the developers. It’s an industry that we distrust and the word ‘greed‘ seems to automatically apply because of the excess of the Celtic Tiger, which is still fresh in all our minds.

Despite this negativity around the industry I am very puzzled  that no one is writing about these obvious positives so I have a peep at the Construction Industry Federation website to see what they are saying.

I find a copy of a press release dated 4th September 2015 with the heading “Six steps to increasing housing supply and stimulate growth in the economy“.

They could just be right ..

The best way to solve our ‘housing crisis’ is to seize the housing opportunity.

Greg Canty 

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

 

Rocky Balboa and Irish Water

November 23, 2014

Rocky Balboa making a comeback

We were up against the ropes after taking a fierce pummelling.

It felt like there was no mercy as blow after blow landed and we were dizzy, weak and confused, nearly ready to give up and the heavy punches kept landing. Please stop ..

USC tax, narrowing of tax bands, disposable income crumbling, banks seizing up on lending and pressurising without mercy, NAMA just as merciless and then we had the property tax. Our trusted charities seemed to be an incredible gravy train with political appointments and despicable salaries with zero accountability.

Just as a glimmer of sunshine started to appear out through our swollen eyes a Kango hammer was digging outside our doors installing meters to measure how much water we were using so we could be charged at whatever rate they decided – no one knew.

This was very different, this was outside my front door and all of a sudden you touched a raw nerve. The installer cut up the footpath and never repaired it and when we called him he was very very smart saying it was always like that and he could prove it because he had a picture from Google Earth ..I’ll give him Google Earth where the sun doesn’t shine!

If there was a leak they would fix it but after that it was my problem, if we didn’t pay our water would be restricted to a trickle, if we didn’t register there would be fines, no one knew how much the water would cost but we did know there were bonuses for staff (for what?!!), they wanted our PPS numbers and the bunch running the fiasco called Irish Water were made up largely of political and very unsuitable and incompetent appointees.

Blow after blow each punch hammered us.

Rocky

They crunched down hard on that raw nerve without mercy and we could feel that anger rising. Even though we were totally exhausted, beaten to a pulp, eyes nearly shut and ready to fall down an inner strength rose from deep inside us and we managed to stand up and lift our tired arms and throw a punch.

To our surprise it connected …bang.

All of a sudden he was not so solid on his feet and we felt some of his superiority and power draining from him and shifting into our arms and legs… we were not beaten.

We thew another punch and another and each of them landed…bang, smack and he was suddenly reeling, dizzy against the ropes.

Will we show him the same degree of mercy that he showed us? Bang ..didn’t think so.

The government are now reeling after the fiasco of Irish Water, taking blow after blow. The rules of the game are changing by the day; the charges are being reduced, we won’t have to give PPS numbers, no one’s water will be reduced to a trickle and anyone who can’t afford it will not be pursued and then we have the apologies..

“I didn’t mean that” “That was a mistake” “We handled it badly”.

Up against the ropes and waiting for the knockout blow the government is trying everything to escape the wave of punches but they keep coming despite all attempts to call an end to this brutal fight.

When we were up against the ropes there was very little mercy and those painful lessons aren’t easily forgotten. So before you start to recover and find your feet again …BANG.

These water protests won’t stop anytime soon regardless of what changes are made.

The activists know they have the government on the ropes and they won’t let up.

While its easy for us to join in as we have all felt those heavy blows, its really important that we are sure who these activists are and make sure that we don’t get a new fighter in the ring who is bigger, uglier, meaner and even more merciless than the one we feel we are fighting right now.

Is it time to step out of the ring? 

Greg Canty 

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

 

How did you survive the recession?

May 5, 2014

navigating the storm

It looks like we have come through the recession and things are finally improving – it was a rough, tough, bumpy ride but we got there!

As things start to improve the horrible memories will fade into the past but hopefully the valuable lessons we learnt will stay with us and we will be stronger for them.

In our industry we were particularly vulnerable as many businesses totally shut down on their positive spend and investment in Marketing and PR was deemed by many as unnecessary in tough times. Budgets were slashed and at the beginning of 2009 we lost a lot of good accounts. On top of this we suffered a lot of bad debts, which was really hard to carry.

Thankfully we dug in and we survived and we managed to come through this challenging period without losing any staff, without having to reduce wages – in fact it was the opposite. We managed to grow our business and we took on extra staff and we opened an office in Dublin.

Personally I took a lot of inspiration from a book I read called ‘Storming the Recession‘.

In my view we survived the recession because of a few things:

  • We did our best to stay deliberately positive at all times
  • We worked hard at keeping our team motivated and protected them from tax increases
  • We used social media extensively to boost our awareness and promote our services
  • We looked for and grabbed unique opportunities, which only occur in tough times
  • We kept our pricing competitive at all times
  • We made sure we delivered for our clients – their budgets are precious and it is essential their investments are wise ones
  • We looked for extra ways to deliver value for clients including embracing new media enabling them to connect with customers in new ways
  • We diversified our services and started to run training courses in PR and Social Media – most of these were done in the evening and the extra income really helped. These courses also helped to increase our network and awareness
  • We absolutely worked our socks off punching in incredibly long hours – we thought recession would mean less work!!

There were times when things were really tight and very worrying but we always seemed to just about get through. Maybe we were lucky but then again maybe you make your own luck?

This was a unique time that no doubt will come again and is important that when that happens we remember how we coped the last time round, which is why I am forcing myself to write this!

What did you do to survive the recession?

Greg Canty

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