The Value of “The Silver Lining”

January 16, 2019 by

January Blues

So here we are, mid January, 2019.

A coat of grey clouds, perpetually looms above, we get up – it’s dark, we go home – it’s dark.

The twinkle of the festive season has left the lining of the streets and we are left with that slight vacant feeling within. This grim outlook can affect the mood of many of us at this time of year, however, for some, it can seem worse than others.

A relatively small example of this, I experienced myself just this morning. I looked in the mirror as I got ready for the day and while combing my hair, I notice something different – a long silvery line protruding up and out of my scalp and running down between the bristles of my brush..

..The first grey hair of my late twenties!!

Almost instantly, I saw my youth flashing before my eyes – as if it were now a thing of the past. It’s all over.

On my commute to work, I gaze out the train window and the SpotifyRelaxing Deep House” playlist is in full rhythm and I see the shimmery light pink hue of morning sunlight peering through the clouds in the distance and I think to myself, “Things might not be so bad today”.

It’s amazing how even a little ray of light can change your perspective in an instant.

I began thinking about how I can add this “light” to my grey hair dilemma. Ageing isn’t all about lost youth – it means maturing, developing, understanding and ultimately knowing better.

I was fortunate enough to have had the most amazing time in my early twenties, graduating from University and joining one of the world’s best airlines as cabin crew. I was paid to travel the world, staying in five star luxury hotels along the way.

I had the chance to experience life to the fullest, jumping off cliffs and hang gliding over Rio de Janeiro, diving with sharks in South Africa, climbing The Great Wall of China and everything in between.

I did and saw it all. and not to sound ungrateful for these experiences – but it is a lot to leave behind!

I began thinking about all that I have learned from these experiences and how they have shaped my growth, increased my cultural awareness, communication skills, empathy, understanding and patience levels (a solid requirement for any airline employee is to know the value of patience!).  

All of this deep thought really allowed me to see “The Silver Lining” in my new silver line of hair.

This new stripe is a reminder of hard work, late nights, long hours and lessons learned. It also highlights a new chapter of maturity and progression.

I made the choice to return to Ireland, to pursue my career as a PR and marketing professional, something which I had always wanted to do.   

Furthermore, this got me thinking about “reactions” and how often at times, we can be quick to formulate an immediate negative response to the unexpected. An initial reaction can be an exacerbated version of how one would usually react, given the time to digest or dwell on the information presented.

This is something we all should practice – when life throws us a curve-ball, which it often does, take a deep breath, reflect and turn your attention to finding the silver lining as there is always positive to come from negative.

Keeping a positive outlook is important for general life as well as in business when the unexpected occurs.

A first step or an approach could be taking a look at the core values and assets that you have,  pausing and thinking about how you can utilise these to your advantage and to create more positive awareness for your personal situation or brand.

This can open new areas of possibility, which may not have come to light had the unexpected not occurred.

Ultimately, knowing the existence, value and importance of a “The Silver Lining” is what will help shine through on these dark January days, when it may seem the clouds will never shift – but just like with the seasons, there will always be new light.

Suzanne

Suzanne Meade is a PR Account Executive with Fuzion Communications, a full service agency with offices in Dublin and Cork

I had a great year because ….

January 1, 2019 by

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

From building sites in the UK to teaching 1.3 million young people in Africa to code

October 27, 2018 by

 Africa Code Week

If you want to get anything done you should ask a busy person!

This must be the big lesson that I picked up when I sat down to record an episode of the Fuzion Win Happy podcast with the CEO of Camden Education Trust and Co-Founder of Africa Code Week,  Bernard Kirk.

An early experience on building sites in the UK set off a powerful light bulb moment for Bernard – without education you will struggle, as he witnessed so many Irishmen slogging their way through life until they could no longer manage the physical toil that was required to do that job.

Bernard is a teacher who progressed to teaching teachers and then got involved in a myriad of events and initiatives that encouraged our youth to advance themselves.

When a Minister asked him to organise a Science and Technology Festival in the West of Ireland this sparked an endless involvement in other projects and initiatives all with the same goal of advancing the potential of young people through education.

Running Africa Code Week, which brings together 1.3 million young people in 35 different countries is a colossal, mind bending achievement.

Where would you even start to organise such an event – Bernard says you pick up the phone, you bring people together, you leverage connections and so on and so on.

Nothing is ever that easy and it is clear that this passionate man doesn’t see roadblocks, he sees opportunities.

Bernard reckons his Irishness is one of his Superpowers and it gives him the unique ability to open doors everywhere.

Click below to listen to the podcast and hear about how this very busy man does it!!

Fuzion Win Happy Podcast – Education is the key to everything

Enjoy the show!

Greg 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications who offer Social Media Consultancy Services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Snapchat and Amazon connect for “snap” online shopping

October 1, 2018 by

Snapchat and Amazon

We all love to shop!!

It’s an industry that has grown online and is only getting bigger.

Now social media platforms are getting in on the action; Facebook were one of the first platforms to encourage shopping from the platform linking up with Shopify, Pinterest were next capitalising on the fact that their site inspired people to shop and introduced shopping ads and this year even Instagram introduced shoppable tags.

It’s the next frontier for social media sites and is a clever way to stay relevant when their audience’s attention spans are so short lived.

Imagine my surprise when Snapchat, the platform we all thought was on the way out, released an update saying they are now working with Amazon testing a new way to search for products using the Snapchat camera. This could really change how people shop online!

Snapchat Shopping

All you will have to do is point your camera at the product as if you’re taking a picture and then press & hold on the screen like you do when you use Snapchat filters. Once the product has been recognised by the app, a pop-up card with a link to the product page on Amazon will appear and then you follow that to purchase the item on Amazon.

So simple and a genius move by the two companies!!

Many people have said Snapchat is in decline but they’ve managed to hold on to their younger user base quite well. There may not be growth but they’re not losing users. If you look at the Ipsos MRBI Social Media Messaging Report from March 2018, you can see that even though only 31% of the Irish audience have Snapchat, 64% use it daily.

IPsos March 2018

Snapchat knowing that their demographic want everything instantaneously and by creating this link with Amazon who are king of snap purchasing decisions (anyone else bought something random from Amazon at 3am?!!), they could very well be guaranteeing their survival.

Looking forward to seeing how Facebook react to this!

Alma Brosnan - Fuzion CommunicationsAlma

Alma Brosnan is part of the Social Media Consultancy team at Fuzion Communications who have offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

From a rugby career ending injury at 28 to a global successful software business with Conor O’Loughlin, CEO of Glofox

September 25, 2018 by

Conor O'Loughlin, IBYE Winner 208

In this episode of the Fuzion Win Happy podcast, Greg chats with Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur 2018, Conor O’Loughlin, CEO and Founder of Glofox, who shares his story of huge disappointment with an injury, which finished his rugby career with Connacht at the age of 28 to a new career in computer software.

Realising that his rugby career and dream was over, he started a web development company where through his client work he discovered an untapped niche in bespoke software solutions for the gym and fitness sector.

With the help of a Competitive Startup Fund from Enterprise Ireland he managed to start developing a bespoke solution and later accessed further funding as part of the High Potential Startup Fund.

Fuzion Win Happy podcast thumbnail

This business has expanded globally from Ireland thanks to the hard work and focus of Conor and his team and the careful navigation of the complex world of funding with Enterprise Ireland, Angel Investors and VCs.

Despite the huge demand for IT talent in Ireland and in Dublin, Glofox have managed to continue to attract great people to their team who are enjoying the excitement of being part of a place where they can make a real difference.

You can listen to the episode by clicking the link below:

From a rugby career ending injury at 28 to a global successful software business with Conor O’Loughlin, CEO of Glofox

We hope you enjoy Conor’s and the Glofox fascinating story!

The Fuzion Win Happy Podcast is produced by Greg Canty

 

Space Force or Space farce?!!

August 27, 2018 by

Space Force

 

Whatever your feelings about the current person sitting in the White House in the United States of America until a real President is elected, one thing is without question..

He is a maverick, dealing in things that are bizarre, outrageous, backwards, dangerous, unconstitutional and just damn wrong. He touches more people than is right and correct (all puns intended) and finally, he has laid his tiny hands on the design industry, offering up 6 solutions for a form of open vote for the Space Force, the 6th arm of the American Defence Forces. 

Now, we all know how public votes tend to go (Boaty McBoatface, Honey G, Soylent Green flavoured Mountain Dew etc) so, this really isn’t ever going to go any other way other than Awesome, but I do have a two-fold issue with the process of a “Publicly selected piece of design“.

Firstly; offering up a logo or brand with no sense of rationale, qualifications or positioning is insane!!

The majority of those voting will have little or no clue as to the journey that the “designer(s)” (very deliberate quotation marks there BTW) has come to finish up with the designs offered. There will be no conversations around the appropriateness of the design, typefaces, colours and implied and/or subliminal meanings. It’s like asking someone what their favourite track on an album that they have never heard is.    

Secondly; this is not the right way to create something that has lasting meaning, that truly adheres to the cornerstones of “branding”; that pays tribute and homage to that which has gone before it (from Buzz Aldrin, the 1986 Challenger disaster, to the joint ISS programme and the Opportunity rover on Mars) and looks towards the essence of what Space exploration and discovery is all about.

And aside from the fact that Space Force is a military operation, not some fluffy pursuit of organic matter – this is about defence, destruction and warfare, so the icons and illustrations on the 6 offered solutions are as much use as a Buzz Lightyear toy with no batteries.

Of course, I am not suggesting that the pursuit of a logo requires a story and a 120 page document to explain why as designers we have selected a typeface/colour/shape combination (you can watch Stefan Sagmeister’s short and sweary* feelings about that here: (its *quite* sweary), but there should be rationale, there should be a reason that elements are being used in an order to make those intangible assets click in our minds, and at a decision making level, these should be presented to help make what is clearly quite an important decision in a format that relies more than a few big VOTE HERE buttons underneath them on a website. 

Stefan - Space Force

Bloomberg magazine asked a number of designers to throw their hat into the ring, as a counter balance to the work offered by the Trump (Chump!) Administration, and the results are incredible.

The core of the Administration’s xenophobic, racist, self parodying and purile notions have been captured in all their embroidered glory. Have a look and see how absolutely Milton Glaser nails the Commander in Chief.

It’s a work of art and pure genius.

Check out the Bloomberg article.


alt Space Force - Milton Glaser

If Space Force is to become an actual thing, I suggest that we let Jar Jar Binks run it – he’d do a better job, even they had better logos than those on offer!!

Jonathan Leahy Maharaj - FuzionJonathan

Jonathan Leahy Maharaj leads the Graphic Design Department in Fuzion with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland 

Are you creating Hygge [Hoo – gah] at work?

August 20, 2018 by

HYgge

I had never heard the Danish word ‘Hygge‘ before but a podcast that I listened to recently from Freakonomics titled “How to be Happy” resonated with me.

When Helen Russell, fashion editor of Maire Claire moved to Denmark from London with her husband, who had taken a dream job with Lego, she decided to write a book to try to figure out exactly why this country is officially one of the Happiest in the world!!

Her cleverly titled book, “The Year of Living Danishly” digs deep into the psyche of Denmark and why this dark, cold, highly taxed and very expensive country is so happy.

At Fuzion we always talk about #WinHappy as being a core philosophy of ours, creating a positive work culture, where we do great work for great clients but with a smile on our faces.

Some think it is a little Utopian but we believe it is possible.

In Denmark they talk about a very special thing called ‘Hygge‘ , which I found very interesting as it is one of the core reasons attributed to their ‘Happy’ success.

Even on the Visit Denmark website they describe it:

Hygge: The Danish Art of Cosiness

Hygge is as Danish as æbleskiver (Pancake Puffs!!) and it goes far in illuminating the Danish soul.

In essence, hygge means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people. The warm glow of candlelight is hygge. Cosying up with a loved one for a movie – that’s hygge, too. And there’s nothing more hygge than sitting around with friends and family, discussing the big and small things in life.
Perhaps hygge explains why the Danes are some of the happiest people in the world.

I remember visiting a Danish fashion client that we were doing work for and being quite surprised to see candles lighting at the doorway of the offices and in the reception area. The warm glow of those candles certainly softened the atmosphere and was conducive to a positive working environment.

The owners of the business had also brought their little dog to work, who was running around the place! Maybe I should bring Honey and Bert?

In a random Google of the topic around workplaces I spotted an article that mentioned seven ‘Hygge’ tips:

1. Bring a mug from home

Ironically, something we used do in Fuzion was to buy everyone a mug that we thought suited their character!

2. Make a relaxing work playlist

Hmmm…in my work space in the Cork office, close to the graphic design team we always have Spotify playing something that is not too intrusive. It’s more difficult with the PR teams in Dublin and Cork as they are on the phone a lot.

3. Spend lunch outside or take that time to unwind

Too much time is spent by some of us at our desks including lunch break – that is not good and is something that we definitely need to improve on.

4. Decorate your desk or workspace

There are a few pics from home and fun things on people’s desks, but I guess we could go a little further to make the place even more personal.

5. Host a potluck with co-workers

I had no idea what this meant but apparently it is savouring home-cooked meals that your work friends have cooked and vice versa.

I do love when Alma brings in some of her tasty home cooked treats – there is something very special when someone brings something in that they made at home.

“When everybody shares, everybody gets hygge,” is what one author on the topic said.

6. Do random acts of kindness for your co-workers

I love this simple idea as it promotes the idea of friendship and treating your fellow workers as something more than that.

7. Embrace teamwork

Apparently team spirit is part of the Danish culture. From childhood, Danes work in groups and are taught to seek and/or give help in the face of adversity. They are encouraged to remain confident despite their weaknesses and humble despite their strengths.

While we have a great team and do a lot together, too often when you glance down the office we are all busy, busy, with our heads stuck in whatever client work we are doing.

In Fuzion we do our own few things in the spirit of ‘Hygge’ that we could add to this list:

Breaking bread together – Fuzion Friday

Every Friday in both Dublin and Cork offices we down tools and we go for lunch together. We chat about the wins, we chat about the losses and frustrations of the week and we laugh and share weekend plans.

Cuppa anyone?

No one makes a cuppa without asking if anyone else would like a cuppa!

Birthdays

A present is always bought for you on your birthday and wait for it…. our people get a day off for their birthday, which they must take on the day (or very close to it a least). Our client, Regus does this and I thought it was a great idea so we introduced it two years ago.

Slagging/Banter

There is always a nice amount of friendly banter in the office, which is nearly always lighthearted and never bitter.

Holidays

The person who goes on holidays is given a token few quid to buy a meal on us but they nearly always buy some chocolates or biscuits for the office on their return.

Working Late

We don’t like to see anyone caught working late at the office – Saidhbh is the biggest culprit lately!

While it is never perfect and there are the normal pressures and stresses of work I think we do a pretty good job at creating our own “Hygge” – after all, why would anyone want to work in the opposite atmosphere? ….I certainly don’t.

What do you do to create your own Hygge?

At Fuzion, I guess we call it Win Happy!!

Greg 

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

 

 

The Business of Blogging

August 7, 2018 by

Blogging Tips

Blogging has seen a huge rise in recent years and doesn’t seem to be slowing down.

The way people blog is evolving and adapting constantly. For many businesses, engagement with bloggers and influencers now plays a major role in their marketing strategy and is producing fantastic results.

I recently attended a really interesting event hosted by Network Cork called “The Business of Blogging”.

The lineup of speakers included international blogger Erika Fox of Retro Flame, Cliona O’Connor of Lean Mean Momma and Stephanie Lynch of OnTheQT.

Erica, Cliona and Stephanie all shared some fantastic tips that apply to both businesses and individual bloggers in order to grow their social media presence and get results. Below are some top tips from the event:

  • Consistency – It’s all about consistency and quality, if you’re not posting regularly on your online platforms people will forget about you.
  • Be authentic – Don’t copy what other people are doing, be true to your brand whether it’s a personal or business brand. We love to see the people behind a brand and social media is a great way to do this.
  • Branding – If possible, have the same username across all social media channels with a similar style on all channels as well.
  • Value your followers – Don’t be afraid to ask your followers for feedback on what they want to see.

For more tips about blogging check out a blog post that our Greg Canty wrote over six years ago!!

13 Tips about Blogging and Making some Noise

There was also some discussion at the event about working with bloggers and influencers and some criteria you might take into account when deciding to engage with them:

  • Understand the influencers’ followers, check out what their followers are asking them.
  • Look at the influencers/bloggers engagement, this is much more important than huge follower numbers.
  • When you have identified an influencer that fits with your brand, try and meet with them to iron out what you are looking for from the collaboration.
  • Don’t be afraid to work with smaller bloggers as they often have high engagement.
  • After a collaboration, ask for analytics to understand what worked best and what didn’t work so well.

A big thanks to Karen Fleming and Network Cork for organising another interesting and insightful event.

Saidhbh Sweeney - Fuzion CommunicationsSaidhbh

Saidhbh Sweeney is part of the PR team at Fuzion Communications, who have offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland 

Don’t be a Commodity, be Remarkable!

July 31, 2018 by

Health Bars in Multiples

Queuing for my salad at lunchtime in the corner store near our office today in Dublin, I couldn’t help but notice the piles of health bars above the sandwich bar.

Even if I wanted one, I wouldn’t have a clue which one to pick as there were so many different brands, all offering the same thing!

A few years ago, health bars didn’t even exist and now they are competing for space at every till across Ireland. So much noise and so little differentiation.

Health bars have become a commodity.

How can you make sure this doesn’t happen to you and your business?

You have to keep on reinventing, reinvesting – in you, in your business and in your brands.

You have to continually give your target audience good reasons to engage with you. You have to create compelling stories about your products and your business.

As Seth Godin says in his Marketing Bible ‘The Purple Cow’ – you have to be ‘remarkable’ to stand out.

Looking at the image (above) of all these health bars, despite the investment in packaging, despite negotiating shelf space, despite “magical” ingredients that will make you leaner, fitter, healthier, not one of them is remarkable.

Why not make it a resolution to ask yourself right now – what steps could you take today to make your business more remarkable?

If you need any help guiding you towards the answers –  I’d love to help…….

Deirdre 

Deirdre Waldron - Network Ireland PresidentDeirdre Waldron is the founding partner of Fuzion Communications, a Marketing, PR and Graphic Design firm with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Ireland’s recycling campaign – what campaign?

July 9, 2018 by

Recycling

A topic that has gained prominence recently has been the amount of accumulating waste, particularly plastic that is ending up in the world’s seas and oceans with vast areas now covered in non-biodegradable materials.

In Repak’s Annual report, it said that the amount of packaging recycled in Ireland last year has hit record levels. More than 817,000 tonnes of packaging was recycled in 2017 which was the highest volume ever recorded in this country.

This all sounds great so far and in 2016, China – the then world’s largest recyclable materials importer took 95% of Ireland’s plastic waste to do just that but a ban that came in on January 1st of this year meant that China will no longer take it.

Despite our efforts, the amount of waste sent to landfill rose by more than 110,000 tonnes last year, a 40pc increase, figures from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) show.

Since the ban came in and to clarify matters for householders, the government produced the first national list of what can and can’t be recycled and publicised it with an awareness campaign apparently across radio, print and social media to improve people’s understanding of acceptable recyclables.

With a national, multi-channel campaign such as this, surely there would have been noise made, good recollection of it and a positive impact, but everyone I have asked seems not to remember anything about it, and are still confused about what can and cannot be recycled. Only for desktop research, I wouldn’t have known a campaign happened at all.

For proper change and to amend the habits of a lifetime rather than just pay it lip service, there must be a genuine effort to communicate to the population its importance, involving and engaging people and rewarding their efforts or it will just end up being an exercise in futility.

Only time will tell….

Patrick Jones - Fuzion CommunicationsPatrick

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


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