Why Cheltenham?

March 19, 2018

Cheltenham

I was standing in the queue at the Spar on Mount Street in Dublin waiting to order a coffee to get me in shape for the day’s work in the office.

I spotted Dave, a buddy of mine from the drinks industry who I hadn’t seen for a few months collecting his coffee and he nodded across to me.

He made his way over and as jovial as ever he explained that he was exhausted after a few days at Cheltenham: “Jesus, I’m getting too old for this crack and I have a mountain of work to catch up on“.

When we both worked in the drinks industry these “junkets” were part and parcel of the job and while fantastic fun they invariably involved lots of travelling, late nights with more than a drink or two!

Dave is still working in the industry “The recovery time seems to be much longer these days” he told me.

The conversation went on and he asked that question: “How’s your dad doing?

He obviously hadn’t heard.

This is always tough because the answer always leads to some awkwardness and invariably warrants a much bigger conversation.

Dad, sadly passed away at the end of January” I replied and I started to give him some of the details including how he passed, how everyone was coping and both of us stood there holding our takeaway cups and we spoke about mortality and our different experiences.

Life is short” he said “and we never quite know how short it will be“.

We both stood there nodding and contemplating in silence.

That’s why we have to go to Cheltenham” he said and we both went on with our respective days.

He is right..

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

 

 

 

Stories you can only tell with Social Media

March 13, 2018

Orange Army

During the recent extreme weather when the whole country was effectively shut down, we all had plenty of time to check our social media updates to see how each pocket of the country was faring out.

The “stories” came thick and fast like the snowfall, and one story-line in particular that caught my attention came from Irish Rail.

The teams from the state rail service had clearly been told to take out their mobile phones and capture the different work that was being carried out, with these being quickly shared on their various social media channels along with a clever narrative.

These posts complete with the hashtag #OrangeArmy (a very clever way of referring to their team in the field donning their orange reflective jackets) painted their teams as heroes, braving the harshest elements to get the country on their journeys back home or wherever they needed to get to.

As expected there was lots of interaction with the general public who were checking the Irish Rail social media account to get updates about the rail service and were seeing these clever posts.

The media even picked up on this and wrote about the fantastic work that was done by the Irish Rail team at this time – it probably makes a pleasant change!

While this was a clever way of demonstrating the hidden work that most of us never see it was also a brilliant way of involving their team and motivating them: “We appreciate what you do for us, it’s important

Orange Army - Irish Rail

All of this is a brilliant example of how best to use your social media platforms.

These are perfect behind the scenes stories, that while valuable for your “brand” are nearly impossible to share on your website, in an advert or on a newsletter.

Instead of using your social media as another place to repeat your promotional activity, try to use it to tell those other unseen stories and let people get to know you better, your personality, your ethos and your beliefs.

If Irish Rail never shared these “Orange Army” stories we would never know, but they did and now we think they are heroes…

Be clever with your social media, don’t be shy and let people get to know you better.

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full-service agency that offers Social Media Consultancy and Training  from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

Ok ….my first podcast is finally live!

February 28, 2018

Fuzion Win Happy Podcast

This podcast journey that we have been on started on holidays last year when Brendan, my son suggested that we listen to a podcast called S-Town.

Podcast?…I’ve never really listened to them and after all I prefer either listening to music or talk radio when traveling but why not, let’s give it a try.

When my son recommends anything to us we tend to listen as he has great taste and within the circles he moves, he is on trend and if anything cool and interesting is happening he will be on it.

S-Town

S-Town from American Life was a fascinating series of podcasts that told a really riveting story. We downloaded the whole series and queued it up on my phone to make a punishing four hour journey a little less painful!

In the blink of an eye we found ourselves in the car park of our destination hotel and even though we were in the car for four hours we sat there and listened to the end of the gripping episode.

Wow, the journey flew because we were engaged with interesting content, which we had curated ourselves.

Roll on eight months, and we are now regular podcast listeners, enjoying a wide range of content on a regular basis and quite intrigued by how this simple format is catching on with people.

Why are podcasts so good?

For me the biggest benefit is that it gives me the ability to listen to something that I have total control over when I am on a journey or exercising (nothing too extreme I promise!).

While I love my music there are times when I’d like to be entertained, informed or educated and I can do all of this with my selection of podcasts as I commute to work, travel or hop on my exercise bike.

I find podcast listening has changed my media routines quite a lot – I still listen to the radio for news and topical items, but now instead of waiting painfully through a boring topic or suffering through a news cycle that repeats frequently I switch to whatever podcast that I have in my queue.

My own listening is quite diverse and it includes things like Legends and Losers, a brilliant marketing show delivered by the engaging Christopher Lochhead, The Stand by Eamon Dunphy where he talks football and covers other issues such as U.S. politics and the Maurice McCabe saga, Pod Save America and the Axe Files, both covering American politics and delivered by ex senior members of the Obama administration, Blindboy (Rubberbandits fame) where he gives you a very strange version of how he views the world, Reply All, an American Show that investigates strange occurrences online, The Anfield Wrap, which discusses all things Liverpool and an assortment of other things including The Woman’s Podcast, which gives me another perspective on life!!

All in all, this mix of content keeps me entertained and informed about things that interest me. As you can see I’ve subscribed to a mix of business, marketing, politics, lifestyle, sports and entertainment and each week I discover some new gem that gets added to my lists (finding enough hours in the week to listen to all of these is the biggest challenge).

I don’t listen to everything, I quickly hit next if a podcast doesn’t hold my interest but just like Netflix, we have another format that allows you to curate your own content, when you are ready to tune in.

While Netflix competes with TV, I reckon podcasts are now competing with live radio and music.

I’m noticing an interesting trend with advertising on podcasts (these are often delivered in person by the podcast host) whereby the same companies keep popping up – ZipRecruiter are big advertisers on many of the American podcasts I listen to. Have they figured out that this is a great way to reach their target audience?

All of this change is leaving us with a big challenge – the more our audience have the ability to ‘curate’ their own content the more it is difficult for us to get through to them.

If you want to stay relevant you need to understand the dynamics about all media then maybe you should consider jumping in?

So…..I’ve done just that and produced the very first Fuzion ‘Win Happy’ podcast (woohoo!!!) which is available on iTunes and other formats.

For this first podcast I interviewed Brendan Foster, a senior partner of Grant Thornton in Dublin on his last day as President of Dublin Chamber. The role is a year long and he has passed on the “chain” to Anne O’Leary of Vodafone.

Brendan Foster - Dublin Chamber

He is a really nice guy, who I have got to know over the last few years as a fellow Dublin Chamber Council member.

He has witnessed the highs and lows of Celtic Tigers and recessions and is a very proud Dubliner who certainly wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth!

The whole podcast process has been a huge learning experience of buying and testing equipment, practicing interview/chat techniques, learning how to edit audio files, mix music, create intros, design artwork, hosting and putting all of this together into a final product and publishing!!!

My first effort is so far from perfect it’s not funny but at some point you have to stop deliberating and press “publish” and just accept the learning curve for what it is – I will get better !!

I’m really enjoying the whole experience, I’m having incredible conversations with great people and I can see the potential of the format for Fuzion and for our clients.

A huge thanks to Brendan Foster for jumping in and if you do fancy listening then tune in and please, please, just like that band who plays their first gig, excuse the imperfections!!!

Happy listening!!

Click here for a link to the Fuzion Podcast

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

Sorry for your loss…

February 12, 2018

Sorry for your loss

Another phone call, another person reaching out.

I haven’t spoken to her in a long time but I can guess why she is calling.

The thing is, my dad sadly passed away two weeks ago and I am still receiving calls, texts, emails and cards from many people offering their condolences. As well as this, people are still stopping me on the street or pulling me aside at meetings and having a private word.

The condolences vary from a simple “sorry for your loss” to people who knew dad and will share their own memory of him, to others who want to share their own personal experiences with grief and loss.

In many cases I can end up having the most personal conversations with people, who up until this moment I would have only had a professional relationship.

On one occasion (there have been so many), just last week, I stood in the corridor listening to one man telling me fond stories about his own father who passed away over 10 years ago. I got a sense that he just loved the opportunity of talking about his dad – my relationship with this man has changed forever.

A part of me feels that in reaching out it allows everyone to be a little human and share something that is normally private and precious to them. I get the feeling that people want to connect, they want to reach out at a level that is beyond the every day superficial interactions, and death in a very strange away provides this opportunity.

The reaching out by people, has been so incredibly welcomed – I always wondered, if it would feel like a nuisance and a little tiresome to the person on the receiving end of the barrage of condolences, but it is so much the opposite.

I also get that very often people are very uncomfortable about what to say to the person who has suffered a loss – just shake their hand, give them a hug and let them know you are thinking of them.

Each and every interaction is a valued support.

So, please, whatever is going on in your busy life, reach out to that colleague, that neighbour, that old acquaintance when they have suffered a loss.

It’s worth everything to them.

Greg Canty

Michael Canty – No Ordinary Man

January 30, 2018

Michael Canty - US ArmyDelivering a Eulogy at the funeral of your dad, one of the most precious men in your life, is a huge privilege and an opportunity to show people who this great man is (I prefer that word to ‘was’).

I’d like to share this with you:

My cousin Tommy, who was like another son to dad, sent me a gorgeous text about him, which goes some way to explaining why he is so special.

He was just an ordinary man with no airs or graces. What you saw was what you got and everyone loved him

While we all have our own memories and stories about Michael Canty, over the last few days we have all got to know him a little better by sharing some of these with each other.

We heard about his buddy in Primary School, Joe Kenny who told us that no one messed with Michael Canty, because he was the one who took on the bullies who were mocking a poor lad with a hunchback.

We heard about the young Michael Canty who was shouldered back to his house after playing a key role in a school final.

Michael Canty - In the armyWe saw the fantastic adventure that he had in the US Army through the brilliant photos that he used send to mum with lovely messages to her. “To my beloved wife“.

They both wrote to each other each day so each day they would receive a letter.

We heard about the footballer who played in America with the Newark Portugese.

We read about the fantastic footballer and the cup winning captain who was a great teammate. He captained the first Cork team to win the Oscar Traynor Cup, in 1966.

Michael Canty - Oscar Traynor Cup winner 1966We heard about the two young girls that he saved from drowning at a beach in Cork. I am guessing my fear of water might come from witnessing that incident as a young kid.

We even heard from the young adults in the neighbourhood who remember fondly kicking ball with him on the green. They used knock on his door to see if he would come out to play!

We heard about the man who knocked on the door about two years ago, enquiring about Michael. He hadn’t seen him at the gym in a while and he was checking to see if he was ok.

Everyone did love him, even our dogs who knew he was a very special man!

One of the most fantastic things about Michael Canty was his sense of humour and his talent for putting others at ease.

Even in his darkest days at the beginning of this month the very sick Michael Canty leaned over to me in hospital and whispered “where in the name of god did the doctor get his pink trousers“.

We would tease him that he was getting loads of attention, to be told “Aren’t I worth it

While January 2018 will always be remembered as a terrible, very sad month in some respects it was a very special month when friends, neighbours and family rallied around to help in any way and to support each other. In the middle of all of this sorrow there was love, kindness and laughter, and plenty of it as we shared some of these special stories.

It’s very clear that the very special Michael, and all of his special characteristics have been passed on to those around him – he lives on, in all of us.

It’s only right that we leave the last word to him.

If we described him as being an “ordinary man” he might have an issue with it.

With a cheeky grin he would say…. “I’m not ordinary, I’m outstanding in my own field!

You certainly are Pops…..

Michael Canty - RIPMichael Canty, my beloved dad, my buddy, Rest in Peace, you will always be with us.

Greg Canty

Dad passed away peacefully at Marymount University Hospital and Hospice on January, 25th 2018, at 9:45 pm.

We were by his side.

 

 

 

 

Crushed Ice

January 21, 2018

Crushed ice

It’s dark, I open the fridge door and there it is glistening in the light.

A full beaker, crushed ice crystals of all shapes and sizes looking back at me.

This isn’t for an exotic cocktail, not for a delicious Mojito with the best of rum, fresh lime juice, mint leaves and sparkling soda water.

No, this is our saviour, this beaker of crushed ice, this will get us through this long night, it will carry us through till morning, it will take us peacefully to the next day.

I just need small pieces but these pieces in the beaker want to stay together.

The spoon I’m using to search for small pieces is just too awkward, the rummaging is making too much noise and causing its own problems.

A small plastic cup is the answer. Grab the pieces from the beaker without discrimination and let’s break them up quietly in the forgiving plastic cup.

This is working, I now have small pieces and we can get through this long night together, me, him and the crushed ice.

Small bits of crushed ice on the spoon, into the grateful mouth, sucking relief from these magical crystals as they gradually turn into water and relieve this awful thirst.

The hand gesture, more crystals on the spoon and into the grateful mouth.

I watch him, this powerful man that I adore, this superstar sucking on these crystals, extracting huge relief.

I watch, another spoonful is ready of this wonderful, magical crushed ice that is our saviour. I make sure the pieces aren’t too big for that grateful mouth.

Another spoonful of small crystals into the mouth of this giant of a man, more sucking, more relief.

Are you alright pops, are you doing ok?

I hold his hand and rub his head and he closes his eyes and finds some peace from these magical crystals for another small while at least.

We’ll make it through this night, me, my dad and the crushed ice.

Greg Canty 

Love and Kindness

January 16, 2018

Caring

My poor Dad is in the wars and as a result has been in hospital for the last few weeks.

It’s awful, it’s crap, it’s miserable and any other words you would like to think of.

While this is an incredibly hard time for him and for everyone concerned I am truly staggered and overwhelmed by the abundance of love and kindness that I am witnessing each and every day.

There is an incredible wife and mother, fantastic children, loving grandchildren and the most supportive group of relatives and friends you could ever wish for.

To add to this, we are seeing the most caring, kind, and often good humoured nurses and care assistants who are busy and tenderly looking after the patient and the rest of us.

It’s probably unfair to mention anyone in particular, but  I watched Petra, a care assistant in St.Bernadettes ward in the Bon Secours in Cork, tenderly, gently and respectfully look after my dad – she is a very special angel whose treasured version of kindness is worth its weight in gold.

While we need the best of equipment and technology, modern facilities, and highly skilled professionals in our care system, kindness and caring are probably the most valuable of attributes.

To Petra and all of the fantastic carers and givers of kindness who work in these challenging  #roles – thank you !

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

Facing homelessness in 2018

January 10, 2018

After a very surprising and unexpected conversation with a fellow member of Dublin Chamber of Commerce, I asked her to write a guest blog post for me. This is the first time I have done this on my blog.

The very lovely, intelligent and highly qualified, Jensine-Bethna Wall has recently started her own business, Hyphenate, and is facing the prospect of being homeless.

Dublin, we have a serious problem..

Ireland, we have a serious problem..

Blog post by Jensine:

The New Year has just begun and already fear has nestled itself tightly into the pit of my stomach.

After eight years of calling the house I rent my home in a few months time I have to move out, and find a new place to stay. So unlike so many who look towards 2018 full of hope and optimism my mind is clogged with trying to figure out what to do once the 1st of May has arrived, and I no longer have a roof over my head.

Moving has always been a traumatic event in anyone’s life but now for many, who live and work in Dublin (and the rest of Ireland), moving has become a fiscally impossible task. Irish rents are rising at six times the European median (The Irish Times 8th January 2018) which means that salaries don’t go far in this new Irish rental market.

Ironically the rental market is also the reason why I have to move.

My landlord claims it has to do with me being late with my rent a few time over the years but I know, from what he has said and from how he kept bringing ‘market value’ up, that he wants me out so he can hike up the price.

Since I’ve been living in the property since 2010 he can only increase the rent little by little so now he wants me out. He doesn’t care that I have been a vital part in creating a community in the street, or that I have increased the value of his property by helping to get rid of drug dealers in the neighbourhood, nor is he interested in the fact that after eight years of me living in the cottage all it needs is a lick of paint and someone could move right back in – no major refurbishment required!

So during these sleepless nights trying to figure out what I can afford and where I could go I can’t help but feel forgotten by the government and those who don’t seem to recognise how problematic the rental market is in Ireland. And sadly, as a single, female who lives on her own I am also not a high priority for the media.

And while of course I understand the need to house children, I can’t help but feel that a roof over my head and a place to feel safe and secure in, is just as important for me. But with the lack of housing and the need for single occupancy living quarters, single people are at the bottom of everyone’s priority list.

My recent visit to the Dublin City Council Housing Services proves just how low a priority I am, as I was told that I would have to wait 12 years before ‘affordable rented housing for people on low income’ would become available for me, even though all the forms I had to fill in and were stamped, deemed me eligible.

After I burst out laughing, the horror of the situation demanded tears or laughter, I was told that I may be eligible for HAP (Housing Assistance Payment). But this brief moment of hope was shattered with the added statement “if you can find a landlord who will accept it’”

Not understanding why landlords wouldn’t accept a regular payment from the State and that it is actually illegal not to, I asked around and found three reasons why:

1) The rent is paid in arrears, so the landlord won’t receive payment until the end of the month, which for many doesn’t coincide with their mortgage payments and why wait when so many pay up front?

2) The landlord will have to register their property and many don’t as they avoid taxes by not doing so

3) There is some paperwork involved and landlords won’t want to do that if there is no need when queues form for every viewing

Scouring the Internet for any suitable housing is eating up hours of my days, adding to my stress and increasing the crippling fear that has taken up residency in my stomach.

I set up my own business in October 2017 and work from home, office space is too expensive, but this means that sharing accommodation isn’t desirable.

And since I am in my forties and have lived on my own most of my adult life forcing me to cohabit due to financial strain will not benefit my mental health.

Recently the NHS completed a study on the effects that housing has on peoples health and found that  “good quality, affordable, safe housing underpins our mental and physical well-being”, so when there is no affordable housing, let alone safe and quality ones, people suffer more from depression and anxiety.

As the year grows older by the day I can’t help but wonder how I, an educated, socially conscious and community oriented single woman, have ended up facing homelessness in 2018.

Jensine

 

Fire and Fury and the Streisand effect

January 8, 2018
Fire and Fury - Donald Trump

The Streisand effect is described as “the phenomenon whereby an attempt to hide, remove, or censor a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely.

It was famously named after American actress and singer Barbra Streisand, whose 2003 attempt to suppress photographs of her residence in Malibu, California, inadvertently drew further public attention to it.

Similar attempts have been made, for example, in many cease-and-desist letters to suppress files, websites, and even numbers. Inevitably, instead of being suppressed, the information often receives extensive and disproportionate publicity and media attention.

Poor United States President,  Donald Trump is the latest victim of this phenomenon, when his fury at hearing the incriminating and embarrassing contents of the book, ‘Fire and Fury‘ by author Michael Wolff, predictably led to a cease and desist letter to the publishers.

And of course the sales of the book, went on fire!!

The joke of this most ridiculous Presidency just rumbles on and on, from one shambolic moment to the next and all the while we fear that this colossal and very dangerous egotist is kept away from his ‘big button’ as he plays chicken in the schoolyard with his equally dangerous, North Korean friend.

We can only hope that the work by Michael Wolff will expose the exploits of this dangerous regime and bring impeachment a step closer.

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

I had a great year because…

January 1, 2018

Visualisation

For the last few years I have been doing this simple little exercise at the start of the year to help me get focused around things that are important both personally and professionally.

I have found it to be really useful and it has made a big difference and as I look back at last year I can see the things that I have achieved as a result of this focus. In Fuzion we also ask all of the team to do this – it is really important to us that everyone in the team achieves their own personal and career goals.

Making plans and actually achieving them is always challenging and at the start of the year we find ourselves at the start of that loop all over again making promises that often will never materialise!

Benjamin Zander - The Art of PossibilityA few years ago I was inspired by a book about goal setting in a different way called “The Art of Possibility” by Benjamin and Rosamund Zander (a really interesting motivational book by the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and his wife who is an executive coach).

Benjamin Zander, the conductor has the task every year of bringing out the very best from a large group of very talented musicians for his orchestra.

His approach is rooted in the power of visualisation – the simple idea behind this is that if you visualise what you want to achieve then there is a much better chance of it actually happening (disbelievers ….stop reading now !!)

This is my approach to his great idea to tap into all of Your Possibilities..

Take a quiet few moments so you can concentrate with a blank sheet of paper and a pen and do some visualisation – Take a few deep breaths and relax and close your eyes.

Now imagine the last working day of this year, just before you head out the door to do some last minute shopping and enjoy a well-earned rest. You are feeling really satisfied as you reflect on your fantastic achievements during the year. Some of these were personal things and some of these were professional things – you are feeling great!

Now open your eyes and start writing:

I had a great year because ….

Now off you go and list the things that will make this year a great one for you:.

Take your time and be as specific as you can including all of those business and personal goals that will give you that huge sense of satisfaction on that last work day.

Now you need to study this list and start figuring out how you can make this list come to life.

Put your piece of paper in a safe place so that you can refer to it throughout the year to make sure your wish list stays on track.

Enjoy realising all of your possibilities..

Happy New Year

This clip of Benjamin Zander is really motivational and well worth watching.

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