How little is too little? Nothing!

March 21, 2017 by

Patrick Jones, Fuzion PR in Belarus

Many years ago, or at least it feels like it, I took part in a charity trip with my Alma Mater, Dublin Institute of Technology that would change my perspective on life for the better.

In my youth, my mind was set that only the big things counted and if you could only do something small, it won’t make much of an impact. How my mind was changed.

It was this trip to Post- Chernobyl Belarus, where I first realised how incorrect I was and that so much could be achieved with so little. An old rugby buddy from D.I.T organised and led the troop of my bright eyed and bushy tailed students from D.I.T and Ulster University Magee, Derry. None of us had been to this part of the world before and to our shame, knew a lot less about it than we should have.

The experience centred on raising money prior to the trip, and cycling from orphanage to orphanage to see what the money would be used for. Before we left for Belarus, we were cautioned that some of the young people we would be meeting were disabled, both physically and mentally, but in our naivety, little did we know what was in store.

When we arrived into the first orphanage in Rechista, the whole convoy was stopped in our tracks at the reception we received; hundreds of people, small children to young adults were standing outside waving flags and cheering to welcome us. Those who could, ran and walked to greet us, the others had little other choice but to wait till we moved up to them. (We found out later, the children had been waiting for this day since the previous year.)

The children put on a magnificent show to welcome us, and then the tour. After the initial shock was over, we noticed the disrepair the building and grounds were in, how little they had and how much they needed.

In the week we were there, and with the intention of just raising money for the orphanages; two disabled ramps got completed, a playground got finished, a garden area covered in clay got cleared and we put as many smiles as we could put on faces that truly needed them. Anything that needed to be done, we did, if we didn’t have the tools, we made do, but we did it.

By the end of the week, there were no tears left, nor were there regrets as even though we could only do a little, I know it meant a hell of a lot!

Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a littleEdmund Burke

Patrick Jones - Fuzion CommunicationsPatrick

Patrick Jones is an Account Manager in Dublin with Fuzion Communications, Marketing, PR & Graphic Design 

 

My Crash Course in PR, Marketing and Design

March 17, 2017 by

Work experience

As my two favourite subjects in school are business and art I had a bright idea to apply to a marketing company for my weeks work experience. I was delighted to see that Fuzion Communications accepted my proposal to follow the employees around for 4 days!

I expected to be photocopying, filing and making coffee, which of course I wouldn’t have minded doing, but to my pleasant surprise it was the opposite. I was being asked did I want coffee and tea!

My time in both the PR department and the design department were both equally enjoyable.

In the PR department I learned a lot about using social media and not just newspapers to advertise businesses. Also, how not only is the article important, but the headline and the photographs are equally vital to grasp the reader’s attention.

On the Wednesday, Saidhbh, one of the PR team kindly let me shadow her on one of her trips out to take pictures for their social media posts. It was extremely interesting to see the ins and outs of PR and its not easy!

From my observation humour and sarcasm are the most prominent features in the design department, along with skill of course!

They know the computer keyboard like the back of their hand, they can also make a picture taken by a two year old look like a Caravaggio painting. The Photoshop tutorials were one of my favourite activities of the week.

Although I wouldn’t have the best IT background, with help from instructions and annoying Jonathan, the head of the design department with many questions, I wasn’t as shocking as I thought I would be at them.

I can safely say that this was much better than going back to my old primary school and looking after screaming children for a week even though that was also very eventful.

My experience here was great and much appreciated.

Kate D'ArcyKate

Kate D’Arcy, Transition Year Student

Twitter: @katedarcy1469

Well done to the very enthusiastic and lovely Kate who was a pleasure to have in the office for the week and a credit to her parents and her teachers. She rose to the challenge of writing a blog post that I put to her.

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service national agency that offers Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

How you shake hands sends a message

March 13, 2017 by

Trump Handshake

“How you shake hands sends a message – Every interaction communicates something”

Last week, I had the privilege to be master of ceremonies at the first Cork University Business School (CUBS) conference.

The speakers included top business leaders and entrepreneurs, including Marissa Brown, one of Ireland’s most successful businesswomen, sharing their visions and their stories.

And it’s precisely how they tell their stories – how well they communicate – that I imagine will largely mark each one of the speakers as the successes they are.

Research shows that when you line up people with equal competencies, the better communicators will always have the competitive edge.

As a former CNN reporter and anchor, I learned the power of communications through the lens of journalism. I later managed international campaigns for politicians like the first female parliamentary candidates in Iraq and opposition parties in Egypt, and on issues like increasing immunisation awareness in Cambodia.

Today, in my current role with Fuzion Communications , I see communications as a solid combination of style and strategy.

What does that have to do with you? 

Without any further preamble from me, find someone and shake their hand.

What did you get?

Did you deliver a warm, firm embrace, fingers curling around the other person’s hand with the pads of your fingers making contact with their hand in a meaningful way?

Did you clasp for a full second, or two? Or did some of you find that you shook hands with a limp, dead fish? Or who got the arm wrestler, the squeezer?

Why do I make a big deal about a handshake?

Because it’s often the very first thing we do when we’re introduced to someone and many of us don’t have any idea about whether we’re doing it right.

But, make no mistake, how you shake hands does send a message. What does shaking hands with the arm wrestler or the dead fish say to you? Every time you interact with someone, you are communicating something either by design or by default.

Communication is not a soft skill, it’s a critical skill

Thankfully, communications is also a skill that can be learned – and put into action for better results – in every part of your lives.

Any time you have what I call a ‘communication event’ you are either moving your relationship forward or backward with another person.

For instance, applying skillful communications is critical when you first have a big idea. How are you going to pitch your product, platform or service? Even more than market research and projected figures, the story you tell will dictate whether or not you connect with your intended audience.

How do you take the kernel of an idea, or, as you mature in your field, the depth of your knowledge, and best communicate to various audiences?

It takes emotional intelligence and training.

Content and delivery

There are two main facets of any communication event: content and delivery, and there are teachable strategies around each.

Before you create any content, you need to apply a strategy for your audience, intent and message – in that order.

Here’s what you should consider:

1. Audience – Who are you addressing? Are they new hires or veterans? Senior management or the executive board? Women, men or both? Do they prefer Elvis or the Beatles? Tea or coffee? PCs or Macs? Every audience is different. Try to get inside their heads.

I sometimes ask clients to write down their agenda and then write a second agenda from their audience’s point of view.

Then I have them throw out their own agenda and begin again from the second one!

2. Intent – Your intent is never simply to inform. If you’re only doing that, put your information in an email and hit the send button.

You must be trying to motivate or inspire your audience to some sort of action, so define your goal very clearly. Too often I see this one overlooked and the goal becomes too broad or ill-defined.

What is it exactly that you want your audience to do after you’re finished speaking? Even if it’s just to agree to another meeting, that’s OK. Be very specific.

3. Message – Only after you have deliberated the first two points should you move on to craft your message. Like intent, this must be clear too. Write it down in one sentence.

Here’s the definition I learned from organising campaigns: A message should be ‘brief, memorable, repeatable, emotional and data-backed’.

Your message is your “call to action“, your spoken declaration of your written intent. State it clearly and state it often. Don’t assume your audience is getting it.

The delivery

Once you’ve crafted your content, how do you deliver your message?

Think of a presentation as being supported by three legs of a stool: words, para-lingual and body language.

1.Words – Use powerful, colourful, imaginative words. Don’t waffle or equivocate. Be bold. Choose active verbs not flat ones.

For people who say words are less than 10% of communications, try watching a foreign film without subtitles and tell me if you understand 90% of what’s going on! Words matter.

2. Para-lingual – This mouthful just means the way we say our words – the tone, the pace, the volume, the pitch.

These are tools we naturally vary when we’re talking to family and friends, but they often get left behind when we deliver “business stuff”.

When we don’t use them, they leave us sounding robotic, rote, dull and lifeless.

3. Body language – Unless we’re master poker players, our bodies are always ‘leaking’ our emotions – and people are always reading us.

How do you hold your arms or hands, and does your listening face look interested or bored? Other people notice, so take ownership and get trained to appear more engaged.

Reaching your audience

Like it or not, both Donald Trump and Brexit proponents discovered how to communicate potentially complicated messages in simple ways to reach their target audiences.

While critics may argue that those simple messages also played on constituents’ anger or fear, imagine what can happen when one creates simple, captivating messages that seek to inspire and motivate people to positive action?

Gina London - Fuzion PRGina London is an award-winning former CNN correspondent who now serves as director of Strategic Communications at Fuzion.

Business Social Media – What should you be doing?

March 10, 2017 by

Twitter for business

Social media continues to evolve with users switching from one platform to another, so where does that leave us today for anyone personally using it for a Business to Business audience?

If anything this has become more straightforward than it was before as Google+ has become irrelevant and most of the new social media activity has happened with the “youth” platforms, which can be ignored for now.

For anyone in business I would recommend the following:

The Basics
You should at a minimum maintain a ‘sparkling’ LinkedIn account that puts your best foot forward at all times. You should treat this as your personal website ensuring that all details are up to date, that you have a professional photograph, that you try to get meaningful recommendations and that you use it proactively for connecting with other people in business.

A big health warning here is that if you are not going to maintain your LinkedIn account properly then it might be wise to delete it – anything that does not paint you in the best possible light should not be allowed.

For example I had one client who was ignoring connection requests for over a year – he nearly had a heart attack when he realised that many of those looking to connect with him were his clients!!

Basics with more ambition
For someone with a little more ambition I would encourage them to add Twitter into their social media mix and I would advise posting on both LinkedIn and Twitter to “make some noise” and let the right people know what they are all about. When posting try to use visuals where possible as nice pictures help posts to get more attention!

Twitter as a platform seemed to be fading away a little but our good friend, Mr.Trump seems to have reversed this trend!

As part of this “making some noise” strategy I would recommend following and interacting with relevant accounts on Twitter and doing the same with LinkedIn including relevant groups – try to pick groups where you will find prospects, not other people in your industry.

Trump loves twitter

The Avid User
If you really want to embrace social media you need to incorporate it into your working day, everyday.

A regular piece of advice that I give to clients is that social media is not a full time activity but it is a full time mentality – effectively, you are always “on” looking for natural opportunities to connect, start or join a discussion that demonstrates who you are and what you do.

You will have succeeded here if people in your sector recognise you as a prominent social media user. Even more evidence of success, is when journalists who are prolific online recognise you and contact you for commentary on topics relevant to your sector.

Pro Tip– When you are posting try to use a few relevant #Hashtags frequently so that after a while they become synonymous with you.

The Publisher
The real social media “guru” is the person who publishes their own material online.

Basically I am talking about those who are writing articles and opinion pieces frequently that are relevant to the sector that they work in. These pieces would demonstrate their expertise and personality and they can be hosted on their own blog or else published within their LinkedIn account (or both). These pieces can then be used as social media posts – if posts are not time sensitive they can even be recycled over time.

For those who are excellent in front of a camera or engaging into a microphone, then video (open your own YouTube account) or podcasts are others ways to capture their expertise and personality and these can also be shared as social media posts or incorporated into their blog posts.

What about Facebook and the new social media platforms?
You might be wondering why there has been no mention of the other social media platforms – in truth I don’t think that they are relevant for the B2B audience BUT …there is always a but…

..all of your social media activity demonstrates to the outside world who you are so you must be careful that you don’t do anything detrimental to your self image by what you post and how you behave online.

While I consider the above platforms to be the ones relevant for business you will often get a business contact sending you a ‘friend request‘ on Facebook or following you on Instagram or Snapchat.

In many cases you may feel obliged to accept that ‘friend request‘ but once this happens you do need to realise that all of your “personal” posts will contribute to others forming an opinion of you.

Other developments
One of things that I have observed in the last while is that the ‘reach‘ of posts (how many people get to see the posts) across all platforms has disintegrated in favour of sponsored or promoted posts so you have to work even harder than before to get noticed and create an impact.

The other trend to note is “live” video which is becoming a big feature on both Facebook and Twitter – while you can probably ignore the feature on Facebook (for the B2B audience) it can be quite relevant for Twitter, as long as the content is clever and interesting.

Facebook have threatened developing their own B2B type platform for a while as they want to dominate all social media but we haven’t see any evidence of this yet.

To summarise I would advise everyone in business to jump in at some level and try to push it to the next level over time, I will guarantee you that you will see results but like everything else in life you must stick with it.

For the naysayers who still think that social media is a big waste of time, I would like to say a big thanks for leaving an even bigger opportunity for the rest of us!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

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

Creative block

February 26, 2017 by

 

Fuzion - Creative block infographic

Creative block– It, quite simply, sucks!

Not just for creative people, we all encounter that mental block in life at some stage. For some reason you do not know how to take the next step. Being a graphic designer, creative block is a demon I know all too well. Something you do for a living, that comes naturally to you all of a sudden is the most frustrating thing in the world.

Facing the issue over and over again throughout my career, I came up with little things to try and break the barrier. I cannot guarantee that any of these will work but what I can always recommend is get up, go out, take a short walk, grab a coffee – just take a few minutes!

Hopefully you will unblock the block..

Paul Wade - Fuzion Graphic DesignPaul Wade

Paul Wade is part of the Graphic Design team at Fuzion Communications who have offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

Networking is simple!

February 23, 2017 by

Cork Chamber - Networking

Back in January I attended my first networking event of 2017.

The event was organised by Cork Chamber and was called ‘Networking for beginners’.

Caitlin O’Connor from Accelerating Performance was the guest speaker on the night. Caitlin explained the Safe Cross Code for networking – it was great to go back to basics and make sure I was actually networking correctly and also pick up some networking tips.

Networking is an important aspect of any business. It enables people to build mutually beneficial relationships and get their name out there. Networking and meeting in person is a great way to build a more trusting relationship with people and will help you stand out from the rest.

Networking can be scary as very few people find it easy to walk into a room of strangers and start talking, so when you do, you want to make sure you are networking correctly and making the most of it.

Caitlin explained that networking is simple, but not easy and gave lots of tips on how to make the most out of any networking event.

Advice I picked up on the night:

  • Research who is attending beforehand – read the attendance list and identify people you would like to speak to.
  • Remember TED (tell, explain, describe)
  • Know your ask – If you have a clear vision of what you want to achieve it will be a lot easier. For example, you are here looking to speak to people who may need your PR service. The person you are speaking to might not require your service but they may know someone who does, so keep an open mind.
  • You should have over 250 connections on LinkedIn.
  • Make sure your follow up is meaningful.
  • Always say thank you.
  • Talk to less people for longer – quality conversations, not quantity.
  • Practice – the more you practice the easier it will become.

Thank you Cork Chamber and Caitlin!

Saidhbh Sweeney - Fuzion CommunicationsSaidhbh

Saidhbh Sweeney is a PR Executive with Fuzion Communications: PR, Marketing and Graphic Design

Take Responsibility and Mind your Bits!

February 20, 2017 by

Wow! I’d like to address the topic of Cervical Cancer, a topic that should be addressed anytime not just in January!

This blog is prompted by a recent prospect meeting I attended, where I received a Cervical Cancer Awareness brooch representing the ‘Pearl of Wisdom’ with a clever hashtag #ShareTheWisdom.

Due to my social media addiction, I of course published a post across all my social platforms in support of a very relevant campaign for women across the globe. (I’m so popular with my 35 likes!)

Cervical Cancer

Although prompted by the brooch this blog is one of personal experience and a result of my lack of responsibility for my own body, which led to an experience I never want to go through again, mainly because I did not know what to expect.

I visited my doctor because mother nature had gone AWOL and this resulted with me getting an unplanned smear test. The last thing you expect to get are negative results, which only scream the word CANCER in your head.

For an over-thinker like me this was not going to sit in one little place in my mind..Oh no! This was going to spread into every little space that has never ever been filled with, well anything (even the science/maths section).

I thought about the dreaded results so much that I ended up being a miserable mess and crying on my dear brother’s shoulder, mainly because my mother would have thought this was the end for me!! We can be quite dramatic sometimes but I’m afraid this is the reality of when you know nothing about cervical cancer.

I was called for a Colposcopy – not only could I not pronounce it but it’s not the fluffiest of words either, so this was quite daunting. I roped one of my closest friends into coming with me and we went up the night before (this of course was Valentine’s Day, so quite inappropriate!).

The next day I went to Holles Street Maternity Hospital where everyone was very helpful and I got all the information I needed. I had a treatment called LLETZ, which removed the abnormal cells on the cervix under local anaesthetic using a very fine, heated wire loop. At this time they also tested for the HPV virus.

Afterwards I felt quiet tired (the effects of the anaesthetic) with a slight discomfort and I won’t go into everything else but a few days rest and hugging myself was in order to get me back on track.

When my results came back they were all clear and I can’t describe the incredible feeling of relief when opening that letter and reading those words. I would be called back in six months for a follow up smear test to check that everything was okay, which thankfully it was – phew and finally the mind rests!

Thanks to my doctor, I was lucky but also I believe as women we know our own bodies and mine was telling me that something was up, just like you know when a tummy ache is coming on. If that little feeling is playing on your mind do not let it lie – GET CHECKED!

Of course I am aware that one of the issues in relation to cervical checks is the age barrier for public health benefit. Young women under 25 years can be affected by cervical cancer but they are not covered via the public system – It can’t be too cheap to get this done and many may not have the cash.

However it is important for us all to be responsible and proactive about our own bits. If you are under 25 and feel something is not right don’t put it off, speak to your doctor and get yourself checked.

Well done to everyone behind the Cervical Check initiative – it is so important that we #ShareTheWisdom

Don’t overthink and let it flood the science/maths section of your brain – Get checked as it could just be one of those life changing decisions.

Arlene

Arlene Foy is an Account Manager with Fuzion PR in our Dublin office.

For more information visit – http://www.cervicalcheck.ie

Restoring trust in An Garda Síochána and Tusla

February 13, 2017 by

Maurice McCabe

If things weren’t bad before, they became even worse for An Garda Síochána when it was revealed that an “incorrect” sexual abuse file was held against Maurice McCabe by Tusla, the family and child protection agency.

Everyone in the media is being extra careful to avoid stating the obvious conclusions as they risk getting into trouble legally. However, they have published the various statements by those parties involved and reported the facts as they came to light and they keep probing and probing for the truth in this sinister mess to reveal itself fully.

Incidents like this demonstrate once again why we need professional, intelligent journalism to bring us the truth as we can’t rely solely on social media to deliver this. Social media is fantastic as it gives us a powerful voice to demonstrate our dissatisfaction as loudly as we feel is appropriate.

We heard the statement by the Garda Commissioner, Nóirín O’Sullivan, the leader of the organisation who has claimed that she know nothing of the sexual abuse shenanigans with the whistleblower, Maurice McCabe.

Tusla in the meantime have issued their own statement claiming that their file against Maurice McCabe with the atrocious false claims against him were a ‘clerical error‘.

The comical little addition to the Tusla story was that their official apology to Maurice McCabe was sent to the wrong address!

The public are no fools and the generally held, unsurprising conclusion about this story is that senior members of the Gardaí who were unhappy with their whistle blowing colleague tried to smear his reputation in the worst possible way to punish him and protect themselves.

Even worse in this sorry saga, Tusla were obviously happy to play ball with their Garda acquaintances.

This stinks to high heaven and leaves all of us with two awful conclusions:

We cannot trust An Garda Síochána and we cannot trust Tusla.

When you consider the crucial role that both of these state bodies are paid to provide, ‘trust‘ is not a negotiable, nice to have attribute. Trust is everything.

What next?

To begin the long road of rebuilding trust in both organisations there can be no more fluffing about and decisive action and clear communication is required.

Our strong advice to those in charge would be to get ahead of the story, remove all doubts and demonstrate in no uncertain way how important regaining trust is.

This is the time for An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny or Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald to take decisive action and remove Nóirín O’Sullivan from her role and get the investigation started immediately.

This is the time for Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone to demand a 100% honest statement from the CEO of Tusla, Fred McBride as to what actually happened. If this is as farcical as the ‘clerical error’ statement, he should also be removed from his role.

The reputation of these two state organisations is not negotiable – start demonstrating it.

Greg Canty 

Fuzion provide Crisis PR services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland 

Boojum Mania

February 6, 2017 by

Boojum van in Cork

Our client Boojum is due to open in Cork this week…and the excitement is Cork is well and truly building.

Late last month the Boojum team came to town and caused a major buzz as they travelled around in their branded cars filled with Boojum goodies.

While I knew Boojum was popular I didn’t quite realise how popular it was and how much people wanted it to open in Cork!

I can’t believe the buzz and anticipation in Cork City for the award winning Mexican restaurant to open its doors. With stores already in Belfast, Dublin and Galway, Cork will be the first new city for Boojum in 4 years, and their 3rd new store to open in the past 12 months.

Boojum addict t-shirts have become a highly coveted item belonging only to the most loyal of customers and Boojum Cork have commissioned special edition t-shirts especially for the Cork customers designed (and modelled!! See below) by our very own Paul Wade in our Fuzion design department.

Boojum t-shirt modelled by Paul Wade, Fuzion Design

Since they were revealed we have been inundated with calls from people looking to get their hands on one.

The t-shirts will be available exclusively from Boojum Cork so keep an eye on the Boojum Cork Facebook and Twitter accounts where they may just give away a t-short or two!

The new store, which will be located on 7 Winthrop Street, is approximately 2700 sq ft over 2 floors, seating 50 people.

Will one of these be you?!!

Edel Cox - FuzionEdel Cox is a Senior PR Account Manager with Fuzion

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

Two heads are better than one!

February 1, 2017 by

A few years ago I worked in a company where I was the only designer.

This was nice in a few ways – I had creative control over everything and there is a lot of satisfaction to be had from fixing a problem by yourself. But on your own you can only take things so far – there is always someone who will think of something you won’t, know something you don’t and see things from a different perspective.

This is something that Fuzion does incredibly well. Whether it is design or PR – everyone attends a brainstorm.

Every idea passes through many minds, gets questioned, gets analysed, gets pushed. For an idea to be truly great, it needs to travel different avenues. Even if the idea comes back to where it started, it needs to make the journey. I genuinely believe some of the ideas the team have come up with could not have been created by a single person, but needed a group to help them develop and grow.

I am a big fan of brainstorming. Check out some ideas I use whether in a group or on my own:

Fuzion Brainstorming Inforgraphic

Paul Wade - Fuzion Graphic DesignPaul Wade

Paul Wade is part of the Graphic Design team at Fuzion Communications who have offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 


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