Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Driving your Reputation

July 17, 2012

Smoking_while_driving

Sitting in traffic in the middle of town on a Monday morning my attention was drawn to the dirty branded van that had just cut in front of us.

The driver of the van seemed to be hanging his arm out the window and I noticed it was because he was smoking.

Two minutes later the cigarette butt went flying onto the road followed closely by a spit …lovely!

If you decide to brand your company vehicles make sure you let the driver know that it’s your reputation he’s driving around the place.

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion are a Marketing & PR Company with offices in Cork and Dublin

Dove è il bar? (Where’s the bar!)

June 28, 2012
Greg Canty blog - Where's the bar?

Are you tempted ?

8 am, driving to work in Cork and it is grey and miserable. The city has taken a right battering as we witnessed the thunder and lightning during the night as well as the torrential rain pounding against the windows of the house.

I turn on the news to hear that Blackpool, Douglas and Clonakilty have been badly flooded with the rivers unable to cope after a month of record rainfall and excess rain during the night. Newstalk radio have residents from Blackpool and my old buddy Peter Collins from Barry’s pub in Douglas on telling their flood stories.

Next up there is some depressing “crap” about EU bailouts .. too much!

I drop Deirdre off at the office and head to the Airport Hotel to give a social media business session to a new client.

Time to switch over to the iPod and lets see what Mr Shuffle brings ..

First it brings me the gorgeous “Skinny Love” by Bon Iver – I pass a couple kissing goodbye as he drops her off to work. That’s nice.

Next it brings me the incredible voice of Tina Dico singing “Warm Sand“, what a great song …we couldn’t be further away from warm sand I’m thinking!

Just as I pull into the hotel an Italian lesson I had uploaded on the iPod before a holiday many moons ago comes on, repeat after me the voice says “Dove  è il bar?” … where is the bar?

Not a bad idea !!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

1780 Cork Silver and things much more valuable!

June 17, 2012
Cork Silver

1780 Cork Silver

We’ve never ever been to an auction but for some reason, wandering around Cork City on a miserable Saturday in June (yep …rain, rain, rain!) we spotted a sign outside Woodwards Auctioneers on Cook Street.

They were showing a preview of items that would be on auction the following  week so for some reason we decided that we would have a little snoop around to see what all of this “auction” stuff was about.

The items on display were apparently from a few estates and there was a huge mix of furniture, ornaments, paintings and other assorted bits and pieces. There was even a pair of children’s shoes that were made by a prisoner in 1916!

After a few minutes in the display hall I heard my name being called and I spotted Pascal McNamara who is the Antique Auction Manager. Up until now I had only ever bumped into Pascal on the street and we always have fascinating chats about all sorts. It always struck me how much he loves Cork and the incredible knowledge he has about our city.

Pascal McNamara

Pascal McNamara

Pascal was standing behind an impressive display of silver, which was part of the following weeks auction. A minute later we found ourselves totally mesmerised by Pascal, listening to stories about the history of Cork silver as he showed us some items from the display.

He showed us his favourite piece, a large Cork George III silver sauceboat by John Warner circa 1780. To be honest I had no real interest in silver or anything like this but this piece came to life for me after listening to Pascal telling us passionately about the history of Cork silver. He spoke of the pride we should have in the Cork craftspeople who carefully manufactured these beautiful pieces.

Pascal told us the incredible story of what he called the “Golden Age of Cork Silver” which can be found in his Antiques, Art & Interiors blog, where he talks passionately about his work.

We stole a little bit too much of his time but decided we would come back for the auction. We left the display hall to get on with our Saturday with a little spring in our step, a little extra pride in our city and its history and an interest in antiques!

I reflected on the precious 1780 Cork Silver that would be going on auction but also on the even more valuable Pascal McNamara who’s passion for what he does brought the silver to life and left both of us totally mesmerised.

In all of our businesses the most valuable thing we will ever have is people who are passionate about what they do.

Pascal …thank you for sharing your passion.

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion

Fidel & 5 Bars!

May 30, 2012
Cuba

Havana – Cuba

To my surprise when I fired up my mobile phone after landing in Havana airport in Cuba it registered 5 bars of reception!

Wow.. after hearing about how backward the country was and in particular, that things like communications systems were at a very basic level I was pleasantly surprised to see my mobile phone registering a network. A few texts that had been sent while on the 10 hour flight started coming through.

I tested the service by sending a text message and I received an instant response! – Maybe Cuba, isn’t the backward country that we had heard it was after all?

The truth is the country is very backward , dilapidated and the seemingly happy natives are denied choice as part of the Castro communist regime.

In the next few days we see the locals queuing for their ration allowance of basic food stuffs, we constantly get harassed by men and women trying to sell black market cigars and looking for you to buy basic products such baby milk.

We see the locals packed into big classic American cars from the fifties and old Ladas, motoring on main roads with huge pot holes and carefully navigating the city centre roads and lane ways which are predominantly pot holes!

We see gorgeous buildings in the capital in ruins with no inhabitants and even the old Presidents palace, which is now the Revolution museum is in a very poor state despite being a major tourist attraction.

Along the streets of Havana you will see well appointed hotels, bars and restaurants as well as very basic offerings. Shopping is a total non event with city centre stores showcasing their wares with the most basic of window displays , which is no surprise as they have the bare minimum to sell.

Along the busy narrow streets you will see lots of people just hanging around, people living inside narrow doorways, sitting on doorsteps. The most unusual sight was huge queues of locals waiting for their turn to get a few minutes in one of the internet cafes to briefly connect to the outside world.

Credit cards work practically nowhere except for the very best of hotels – as the shopping is a non event this doesn’t matter too much but the restaurants and bars just take cash. By the way your regular ATM card won’t work in the bank machines.

Music is a big part of life here with musicians at every corner and even when you sit down at an empty bar, out of nowhere musicians will appear (and quickly disappear once you have bought a CD or tipped them!).

In Havana there even is an Irish influence with O’Reilly Street and yes there is a popular O’Reilly bar selling Mojitos but no Guinness! Even early in the afternoon a band appeared and a caricaturist.

After a few days we headed out of the city to a resort near a town called Varadero , heading past a few small villages on the way. You could see the poor condition of the homes and the other buildings and the very simple life that exists in the country.

I kept looking at my mobile phone on the journey into the country and was amazed to see that reception never dropped to less than 4 bars. Unfortunately I learnt from my son by text that Liverpool FC had fired the legendary manager Kenny Dalglish.

I am writing this blog post from the hotel room and my phone is registering 4 bars reception. Not once since I have been in Cuba has reception dropped, has a call dropped or a message not got through.

As well as sharing a little tale about a fascinating country I am leading to a question about the lousy phone coverage in Ireland. I was chatting to a really nice couple from Dublin and the subject of phone coverage came up – the couple live in Templeogue, a typical busy suburb and Tony was telling me that at best he gets 2 bars of coverage at his house and calls frequently drop.

How is it that in our “sophisticated” economy the phone coverage is so lousy? On the motorway from Dublin to Cork and on the other main routes there are regular black spots where coverage totally drops … I have swapped from O2 to Vodafone out of total frustration expecting that coverage issues would resolve but in truth one is pretty much as bad as the other.

If Fidel can do it surely we can – 5 bars please!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Searching for the Authentic

May 26, 2012

Havana in CubaWe landed in Havana in Cuba and wanted to explore the nightlife, the real Havana … Not the typical “tourist ” offering but something genuine and authentic that the locals would enjoy …. Isn’t that what we are all looking for?

We see the tour guides in their branded polo shirts with their clip boards and we reject them, knowing you are just getting the “tourist” serving, the typical places who are all probably taking you to the spots that are expensive opposed to the genuine , authentic places. What’s more in some places you know they will probably get a few quid for bringing a group there.

So … Off we walk, avoiding the taxis , heading down a road to the “old town”.

In no time at all a friendly couple start chatting to us, asking about where we are from and generously telling us about their lives …. They seem to know we want the “genuine” experience and guide us to a little bar where and old musician is behind a keyboard, who was from the original Beuna Vista Social Club!

Before we can scratch we’ve bought two rounds of drinks , which for some reason ended up being more expensive than the five star hotel, we’ve bought a CD by this old codger and we’ve bought cigars (don’t smoke, never will!) ….. Hmmmm, a genuine “authentic” Cuban experience.

The following morning (after being conned again in the street by a young woman who didn’t want money for herself but wanted some help for her baby … All of this happened in just 10 minutes while we were simply trying to buy a bottle of water…long story !) we opt for a tour from the hotel with a tour guide, which was really great.

He did give us good tips about being conned by people on the street!

The big problem with searching for the “authentic” is that it is often so hard to find. Delivering it and packaging it properly in a way that people will recognise is that little bit of illusive magic that will keep us from being conned and deliver the best possible experience.

I must head out now to find an authentic Cuban restaurant, it’s probably out there but we’ll never find it!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Celebrate those individuals making it happen for themselves

May 14, 2012
Beata

Making it Happen

On our usual Sunday walk with the four legged one (Bing for those who haven’t seen previous posts!) a little poster caught my eye on the pole of a housing estate we walk through on the way to the park.

It was placed on a pole where you might expect a picture of a missing dog but when I peeped a little closer it was an advert for someone advertising their house cleaning services.

The poster was typed up with a simple cartoon graphic of a cleaning lady and housed inside a sheet of plastic to protect it from the elements and it had the contact phone number repeated on little vertical strips for those who wanted to tear them off to make an enquiry later.

I’m sure this simple poster with a clear message “A completely clean home – my cleaning services are thorough, consistent and customised. If you want to change your cleaning routine, Call me” will bring Beata the customers she is looking for.

I started thinking about Beata on the rest of my walk whoever she is.. I pictured her deciding to start her cleaning business to earn money, drafting up her posters, printing them, cutting the phone number strips, housing them in plastic covers and then walking around finding poles in the housing estates she was targeting. She had her mini campaign for her house cleaning service well thought out and there was a real honesty to how it was delivered.

Often we celebrate the big companies with the big job numbers and the vital role they are playing in our economy but we should also celebrate those out there who are digging deep, making things happen for themselves instead of sitting back and waiting on someone else or the state to look after them.

Beata and all the other startups , I Salute you!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

This is my “Colleague”

April 6, 2012

Fuzion gang

At what point did we end up being work “colleagues“?

I must admit that it never sits well with me when I hear the word “colleague” being used during introductions of co-workers at meetings or functions.

Is it just me or am I the only one who thinks it is the worst, dispassionate, unfeeling way to introduce someone you work with?

When I the hear the words being used I automatically think that we just “work together” and that’s about as far as any bond goes – maybe I am over analysing it but I feel it lacks emotion, depth and personally it leaves me cold.

In some organisations maybe that is the reality (I’ve worked in places like that!) but at best the “introduction” words used should convey something positive that reflects the spirit of the organisation.

So … What is the right language to describe someone you work with?

Fuzion team

The one that works best for me when I really think about it is the description “team-mate” – after all, we are on the same team, fighting for the same cause, we don’t have to particularly like each other (it obviously helps that you do like and respect who you work with) but we do wear the same jersey and the word does have a strong positive association to it.

It still feels strange to use the description as it seems to be reserved for a sporting context but even on websites and on credentials documents we often see the words “our team” being used and you see people say things like “our dedicated team will look after you” ..

… we don’t normally see a section describing the personnel as “colleagues“, but I guess you will often see in emails “one of my colleagues will contact you” … awful, maybe I am wrong?

If you use the right words it can be a powerful way in describing what kind of organisation you are.

Is it just me? .. how do you describe the people you work with?

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Happy Birthday Twitter! .. Valuable or Waste of time?

March 20, 2012

Jack Dorsey - Twitter

Happy Birthday Twitter

Happy Birthday Twitter..

On the 21st March 2006 founder Jack Dorsey sent the very first tweet and six years on while it is growing in popularity it is probably still the most misunderstood of the popular social media platforms.

When we run our Social Media courses the results are nearly all the same , pretty much everyone is using Facebook at some level and just a very few are using twitter. I would safely guess that a maximum of  20% of social media users are actively using twitter.

Is this failure, is this most people deciding that it is irrelevant, is this most people not understanding how to use twitter or is it an absolute gem that is yet to be discovered by the mainstream?

At Fuzion we take it really seriously because we see the value of it for us and for our clients but we do understand the difficulty that people have with it. By it’s nature it is looser than the other platforms with pretty much anyone being able to follow anyone, your messages are more public capable of being picked up by anyone searching and then there is the business of hash tags, re-tweeting and #FF, that’s Follow Friday, by the way!

Added to that everything is quite limited, how many characters (you have 15 characters in your twitter “handle”) in your unique identity, how many characters you are allowed in a post, how much information (literally describe yourself in 160 characters) you can include in your bio – it’s just different, different enough to scare users off initially before they get to experience the real magic.

The whole experience is very different and in many ways it is attracting quite a different type of user – often a curious individual who loves getting involved in discussions and who loves giving an opinion! Many of these users seem to leave Facebook behind as they find the twitter experience more enriching.

In the last year we have seen the interface and some of the functionality improve and the numbers using the platform have continued to increase.

Most recently Twitter was in the news for how it played such a starring (and deceptive) role during the Presidential elections in Ireland – while this highlights a risk around how people process information without source verification it also shows the instant and incredible power that it has today.

I won’t start giving a lesson on how to use twitter but I will share with you my Top 10 reasons why we think you should consider embracing it for you and your business –

1. Branded Chit Chat – on twitter you can choose an identity for yourself and every time you post, your “identity” carries with you, it’s like advertising in a subliminal way @prguru. Guess what service that person provides? Even if you are chatting about the latest Liverpool game your identity travels with you.

2. Viral “ability” – of all the social media platforms twitter is the very best for passing on information. The retweet facility makes this possible. I pass the message to my followers, them to theirs and so on. Uninteresting posts will not be retweeted but interesting ones will be, remember Simon Coveney’s, famous Brian Cowen post? Simon Coveney did not have many followers when he tweeted that information, it didn’t matter.

3. Innovators and Early AdoptorsSeth Godin in his famous book the Purple Cow talks about a typical product cycle and he stresses the importance of targeting people who love new things. These are the people who love to try new things out and then tell their friends, they are generally naturally curious and are often the ones who are vital for spreading the word – before you know it when enough people have heard about “that” new product it enters the mainstream, where volume starts kicking in.

If you have a new product or service you will find many of these innovators and early adoptors are already using twitter- makes sense if you think about it?

4. Avoiding the CrowdFacebook has the advantage of so many users and it is really powerful as a result. However it is a pretty crowded space with more businesses joining it the whole time competing for people’s attention. The chances are that your competitors are already up and running and competing with you in this space. Twitter on the other hand has not been explored to the same degree so you can steal a competitive advantage over your competitors and have more of those prospects to yourself.

5. Search – the search facility on twitter is incredible. You can use it to follow topics, to search on people discussing your business and your industry. We find it invaluable in our work with clients and in a “crisis” situation it is really useful. You can literally measure the temperature of a situation on twitter, which can be really useful if you are dealing with a tricky situation. In the last 12 months alone we have used it many times to assist us in our work with clients.

6. Read all about it! – the problem is that it is now impossible to “Read all about it” . With so many newspapers, magazines, radio and tv channels how is it possible? With twitter by following the correct media profiles on twitter you can create your own customised news feed. Everything from your favourite team (have I mentioned this is Liverpool!) to breaking news.

7. Journalists – for some reason many journalists have flocked to twitter, which probably tells it’s own story as to how they value it. If you start using it you can quite easily follow journalists who may be interested in your sector and if used correctly you will be able to learn what they are interested in and what they are writing about. Use the platform to try to build a relationship with them and then pitch your stories – make sure you build trust before you start pitching!

8. Audience – if you use twitter proactively we believe you have a good chance of building “followers” or an audience for your message very quickly, even quicker than Facebook. However, it’s up to you how you use these relationships once you gather them.

9. Relationships – we have found that the nature of the conversations is quite different and at times they are more of a “community” type – the conversations can happen between groups of people. As a result you can have quite different relationships with people. Once you are capable of holding your own on an issue or topic you will build a good reputation and also quality relationships with relevant people.

10. Fun – there can be quite a good sense of humour around using Twitter and even though your topics might be heavy you can build good relationships around lighter issues, which can ultimately lead to a listening for your key messages. My key message is don’t take yourself too seriously on twitter, have fun, build trust and build relationships – after that spread your message.

I heard a great quote by someone who attended one of our social media for business courses in Dublin recently, when comparing Facebook and Twitter – “Facebook is for interacting with people you were in school with, Twitter is for interacting with people you wish you were in school with!”  – This is a big generalisation but it does capture a little bit of the unique spirit that exists on twitter.

Twitter is a load of rubbish, the stuff people tweet is totally useless.. who cares what people have for breakfast

I often hear this type of argument about using twitter so I will leave you with my closing thoughts ..

Twitter is like a radio station, you tune it in by following who you want – find the channels that you like. If someone is annoying you, don’t follow them, block them, change the channel – you are the controller!

So Jack, thank you for Twitter .. I’d miss you if you weren’t there, Happy Birthday!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion Communications

No, not yet and nothing at all

March 15, 2012
American Idol Judges

"Not Yet"

Another young hopeful prepares for their huge moment in front of the judges … will they get to Hollywood?

Of course the scene is set with their touching interviews ..this is what they have always dreamt of and if this doesn’t come through for them, their life will be over!

The big performance happens and then they wait for the judges verdict… The scene is set as the music plays in the background to heighten the drama and tension of this make or break moment.

This is American Idol…one by one, Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler give their verdicts.

Expecting to hear a simple “yes” or “no” as we have come to expect from these shows I am surprised to hear Steven Tyler, the Aerosmith legend say “not yet” to the young hopeful.

Not yet” …I hadn’t heard that language used before on the show and it struck me that it was a really great way of rejecting the young singer in a positive manner, dealing them that dreaded news but in a way that left them feeling encouraged and that the world hadn’t ended.

I guess in the show someone had reflected on the whole Yes/No scenario and decided that there was an option and some sense of responsibility around the cold delivery of rejection – why not do it differently so that it might actually leave people feel ok about themselves and willing to possibly try again next time?

With young vulnerable people there is a particular responsibility to show encouragement even in a negative situation.

In business we all face rejection and at times we also have to do the rejecting …

No

I’m not interested”

“No, it’s not for me”

“Thank you for all your efforts but unfortunately not at this time”

“Sorry, it’s not exactly what we are looking for”

“Unfortunately our budget won’t stretch that far

– there are so many ways to say no and while it is always tough hearing it ,”not yet” or some sign of appreciation or encouragement always softens the blow.

Worse than “no” has to be the Nothing ..

Feel Good LostMy son, Brendan Canty who is new to the business world and doing really well with his music and film production company, Feel Good Lost shared some of his recent frustrations with me.

He spoke about a recent situation where he had put a fortune of work into a pitch, mocked up sample footage, presented and received encouraging feedback and then hears “nothing” back from the prospect.

He waits, he emails, he texts, he calls and despite his considerable efforts ….nothing. Then you tread a line between being pushy and just wanting some feedback. It drives him nuts, not receiving any feedback. As he says himself, he would prefer to get a clearcut “no” rather than the dreaded “nothing” treatment.

This experience bothered him so he came to me looking for some inspiration or advice … “Brendan, welcome to my world!“.

This happens in business and unfortunately it is just something that you have to live with as some people are either being rude or they just have a huge problem with saying “no”.

Is “No” better than nothing ?

Greg Canty is partner of Fuzion

Grey matters

March 4, 2012

Grey or brown with grey flecks?How will I recognise Deirdre and Greg?” , Gina’s mum asked. Gina is one of the Fuzion crew and her mum does some work at Manor West Retail Park in Tralee. We were attending an event at the centre and her mum wanted to introduce herself.

Greg is tall with grey curly hair and Dee will more than likely be with him” … That’s a reasonable explanation but it came to me like a devastating bolt from the blue and nearly knocked me over when I heard it..

Grey, are you kidding? ….. my hair is brown with some flecks of grey” I seriously questioned Gina’s explanation of my hair colour … “No Greg, your hair is grey” she reassured me with a definite sense of authority but I was still convinced that she was just winding me up.

The truth is I wasn’t kidding – surely I know better than anyone else what colour my hair is? I look at it everyday in the mirror and without giving it a lot of thought I truly believed my mop of hair was brown with grey flecks !

This little “realisation moment” occurred towards the end of last year and it did knock me back … The boy is officially getting (looking at least) old!

This does tell you a lot about how we see ourselves and how differently others see us …. It does tell you how everything is constantly changing and we need to realise that our assumptions and beliefs need flexibility to match ….. It does tell you that you can be wrong about things that are under or over your nose!

It does tell me that sadly eyesight might also be an issue!!

I could pretend that when I had brown hair people underestimated my incredible “wisdom” because I looked so young – as a result I decided to dye it grey so I looked older!!!

Would I get away with that one do you think?

Because after all …. Grey matters!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion PR