Posts Tagged ‘Ann Doherty’

Promoting Cork in London and Leadership

September 26, 2015

Cork - BgOnLife

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

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

#BigOnLife

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

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

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

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

FDI Forum - London

London

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Goodie Bags

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

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

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

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

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

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

The FDI Forum

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

Delegates

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

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

Ann Doherty - Chief Executive Cork City Council

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

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

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

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

Cork .. #BigOnLife

Greg Canty 

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

 

Cork City and County – Merger drama!

September 10, 2015

Cork bridge

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

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

This is sickening to listen to but is he right?

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

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

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

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

Alf Smiddy Alan Kelly, Cork City and Country Merger

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cork County Hall Statue

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

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

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

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

I want to prove my friend in Dublin wrong!

Greg Canty 

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