Archive for the ‘Communications’ Category

A New Way To Call To Action

November 20, 2017

A call to action is an instruction to your audience that is designed to provoke a response – ‘visit our website’, ‘follow us on Facebook’ etc.

But do you need to call your audience into action?

I came across this advert from Flavahans as I waited at the bus stop recently.

It is simple with a small bit of humour, but have you noticed anything missing? There is no website, no social media reference and no ‘buy now’, not even a hashtag!

There is a product, a tagline and minimal information.

I can imagine the meeting that occurred when the designer or marketer presented this to their managers.

Where’s the website?

You have to tell them to follow something, how will they know what to do?

We need to tell them everything about the product” – but do you?

I think it is brilliant!!

We already know every company has a digital presence and if we want to find them we will type their name in the search bar.

So why take up space?

Why tell people what to do?

People hate being told what to do – so let them make up their own minds.

This is a brave move, and one that goes against the grain – but it makes so much sense.

We live in a digital world, we know how to find information but I do not know about your product.

Tell me what I need to know, not what I already know.

Well played, Flavahans

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

Millennials -The Good, The Bad, and The Selfies

November 8, 2017

Millennials are a generation of lazy, entitled, fame obsessed, technology worshiping, narcissists.

Sound about right?

Baby Boomers out there, think we (yes, I am one of “the” M crew) have been handed life and its obstacles on a silver platter, meaning we have grown up with a sense of entitlement, brought up to believe that we deserve the best (even when we don’t) and crave praise and attention, all of the time!

Subsequently, it is not difficult to see why we are stereotyped as lazy, entitled and selfish.

But to you, the Baby Boomers reading this, shocked at the expectations and entitlements of my generation, you may also be shocked to learn, we are not all that different after all.

Now as we fast forward ten, fifteen years, Millennials have the same high expectations in the workplace. But what is so wrong with having confidence in yourself and your work?

It is not that we, as Millennials, have created a revolution in workplace and life expectations, but rather evolved to this world of abundance. We have not developed new personality traits from Baby Boomers when they were our age. Most teenagers and young adults, from any era compared to their parents, are selfish, can be lazy, and at the very least narcissistic, now and again.

Baby Boomers say we are consumed by social media. We check our phones, at minimum, once every hour. But how many times a day do you check your email? Now I can hear you say in that voice at the back of your head “But emails are far more important that social media”. Are they?

I believe we are evolving to the point now that they are both equally as important (especially in the world of PR).

And just think what if the world of technology had evolved a generation earlier? Is it possible that Baby Boomers would have been just as social media obsessed as us? We didn’t choose this life, but rather it was selected for us by Apple, Samsung, and Facebook, and we simply evolved and adapted.

So what can we bring to the world of PR?

We know Millennials don’t see technology and social media as a chore but rather part of their everyday routine being switched on and connected, close to 24 hours a day.

We are a troop of networkers, ready to shout and scream to get our message across. We want to work hard, make a difference for our clients and reap the results, even if that does mean sharing it on Insta Stories, Facebook posts, Snap Stories, Tweets, and the list goes on.

As a generation, we don’t have high levels of respect for authority. But because we don’t respect authority we don’t resent it, and therefore we feel as if we can approach and create relationships with our leaders.

We are a generation of dreamers, meaning we are optimistic, thinkers, and life hackers.

We inspire and find new ways to deal with on-going issues. We believe that we can in fact “change the world” and want to bring your business to the next level. We stand up and combat the stereotypes by continuing to show up to work with enthusiasm and ambition.Actions speak louder than words after all!

Let’s not forget that Baby Boomers, you too were a problematic generation, and you turned out alright.

Didn’t you?

Blaithín

Blaithín Gallagher is a PR intern with Fuzion Communications, a full service agency who have offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

The Future!

November 6, 2017

The Future Conference

I spent this weekend at The Future Conference in Dublin, with about 2000 of my peers, and a few of my heroes.

Like most design conferences, it was set on a range of stages, each with a difference agenda and mechanic, ranging from Q&A style platforms, individual presentations, staged interviews and a pop-up artist’s studio.

And like many design and creative conferences, there was a stellar line up (more about this in a bit) crammed into a packed schedule. Unlike any conference that I’ve been to, this one had an agenda, where the speakers were to talk about “The Future”, and what it meant to them, to our industry and our work, which largely meant that rather than the standard portfolio review, we got to have deeper insights into where things are going in the design world. 

Usually I come away from these events with a sense of both love and hate – a love for the work I’ve seen and a hate for my own work, but with a resolve to do more, work harder and be a better designer, and The Future was no different – but this time, as I watched the speakers talk about our collective futures, I found myself looking back and examining why I had chosen design as a career in the first place. 

Future Conference 2017

The Why?

There are various routes into design – many of us start out with either a flair for art, or an unhealthy obsession with pens, pencils and paper.

Mine was no different, I remember one particular art set I got in 1978 and the hours obsessing over colouring in, and I remember spending hours drawing band logos on my school bags. And looking back on it, it was really quite clear that there was only one industry that I was going to end up in!

And (long story short!) this has brought me full circle to thinking that I am so unbelievably fortunate to be part of this creative industry, one that keeps me awake at night trying to figure out solutions to projects, one that gets me talking about crazy sounding intangibles about why we chose fonts and colours, one that makes me passionate about other people’s businesses, sometimes in an almost obsessive manner, but one that rewards me, because as one speaker said “When I do my job well, my clients can do theirs better”.  

The Future was brilliantly illuminated with speakers such as international superstars Sagmeister (of Sagmeister & Walsh), Paula Scher (as seen on Netflix’s Abstract series, a must see!) and Steve Espo, and the incredible homegrown talent such as Brian and Paul from Detail, designers and educators Lara Hanlon, Bob Grey and David Smith who collectively showed us that design is a huge range of things: it is a partnership, solution building, a shared collective experience. It is informative, it can be beautiful, and it is a vehicle for ideas, profit, emotions and humanity.  

If you want me to tell more about some of the things I saw, or if you want to know how I can apply my learnings to your project, just get in touch.

The future is very, very bright!

Jonathan Leahy Maharaj - FuzionJonathan

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

Time to stop playing politics

October 31, 2017

Jeff Flake speech

In the earlier part of my career as an accountant I used to hear people talk about “Being Political” and naively I never quite got what it meant.

Did it mean being sneaky, being dishonest, playing silly buggers instead of just doing your job?

I never quite got it, and I did think that, if it did exist it was something that happened in large organisations or literally in politics, where it sadly seemed to be a necessary part of that game.

As far as I was concerned. as long as I worked hard I would get ahead and there was no reason for me to believe that I needed to act otherwise.

I worked hard in a busy accountancy and management consultants office and progressed well. I worked hard in an American subsidiary of a multinational and progressed well. I worked hard in a subsidiary of Guinness and progressed well and I found myself promoted to the role of General Manager at the age of 28.

I could see “politics” happening externally around me but it was still a case of, work hard and you will always progress.

I then took up a role with the fantastic Guinness company in Dublin and six months later I discovered that my ‘hard work’ previously effective instrument was no longer sufficient to progress – I had to learn how to play politics to get on!

I never quite cracked this skill and while I had a fantastic time working at St.James Gate I can quite honestly admit that I never fulfilled my potential, even though I did learn a lot and make some contribution to the business.

I guess I was never the type that was suited to playing games and I guess this is why I was always suited to entrepreneurship, where you make your own bed and lie in it.

What does “being political” actually mean?

Being apolitical refers to situations in which people take an unbiased position in regard to a political matter.

I guess if you are being political it means you give up on your own views and principles, you take positions on things that are not yours to stay in some sort of favour with others, for some other benefit (a promotion, a raise maybe?).

Once this creeps in, as I saw in Guinness you never get to see all of the potential of the people there. Many will leave frustrated and those that stay will be the ones who are good at surviving in that environment. A lot of positive energy gets suppressed and the business never performs at the level that was possible.

At a certain point it is accepted that “this is the norm” and something bad creeps in forever.

Republican Senator Jeff Flake

I watched the speech last week given by Senator Jeff Flake of the Republican Party in the United States whereby he was declaring that he was ‘turning his back‘ on politics and not running again.

He used the words “the new normal” and how we must not let what is happening now become ‘the new normal‘.

If you listen to the content of his speech it is very interesting and quite sad with some very basic points, which illuminate how bad things have become when you ‘play politics‘ at the very highest level with the dangerous potential of affecting the whole world.

There are times when you must risk your career in favour of your principles” – the opposite is a scary place to be. Who are we if we don’t follow principles – do you want that person working with you?

We are all complicit when we don’t stand up when we know wrong things are happening” – this should be something basic you would want in everyone you work with.

The flagrant disregard for truth and decency“`- the new norm?

The reckless provocations, most often for the pettiest and most personal reasons” – the schoolyard bully?

Heaven help us if this is politics as usual” – this feels like a huge cry for help and something higher to intervene

Reckless, outrageous and undignified behaviour has become excused as telling it as it is” – politics in all its glory

When this come from the top it is something else, it is dangerous to democracy

Our strength comes from our values” – the most powerful statement of all.

It is often said that children are watching” – We are setting an awful example for the next generation

Remaining silent and failing to act in fear of making enemies is dishonouring our principles” – Yep!

I think you get the idea…

If you want your business to flourish then be proactive about creating a culture that brings out the very best of people. and one where no one is afraid of speaking their mind in fear of the consequences.

Stop playing politics…

Well done to Jeff Flake for standing up to the biggest bully of them all, potentially the most powerful and most dangerous man in the world today, Donald Trump.

Check out the full speech by Jeff Flake, which already many are considering to be one of the most important of our age.

Greg Canty 

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

Listening and doing nothing

October 11, 2017

Donald Trump - Twitter

Right now, we are living in an ever increasingly strange era.

A bright orange barely human is in charge of the largest nuclear arsenal in the world, and seemingly quite anxious to have a go at using it.

His counterpart in the East – with equally baffling hair – is egging him on and approximately 7 billion people are at the mercy of their moods. This will go down as the dumbest period of human life on earth, or at very least, as the dumbest period of untethered “leadership” in the developed world. 

On a somewhat lighter (but connected) note, both Twitter and Instagram have made some small but significant changes to their platforms recently, in an attempt to improve users’ experiences making them easier and faster to use. 

As users of social media for the past ten or so years, we should be ok with ongoing updates where features that we know and love are “updated” (i.e. removed or positioned elsewhere on the platform, in an non-linear manner – yes, I’m looking at you Facebook for all the things that you’ve done to the time-line. #smt). 

As recently as June 2017, Grace Kim, Twitter’s head of research and design said “…with lots of feedback and ideas from you, we’re refreshing our product… We listened closely and kept what you love. And for the things you didn’t, we took a new approach to fix and make better,”. 

But its quite apparent that these companies are not listening to their users. 

In this turbulent time, where people carrying swastika flags, can declare themselves NOT nazis, (note – we are deliberately not giving these words the respect of Uppercase first letter) and use Twitter to publish messages of hate and violence, where threats of sexual violence can be made against people for “offences” such as not shaving their legs, or wanting to be referred to as she/her or he/his, where people can be called offensive terms by the president (he doesn’t a capital “P” either!) of the USA for taking a knee protest, neither changing profile pictures to circles nor increasing the character limit to #280 was not on anyone’s agenda. 

Mike Monteiro has been an outspoken member of the Twitter community asking for DT’s removal for repeatedly touting the terms of service of Twitter, writing on Medium he says “DT has been violating Twitter’s “rules” for years. Calling out individuals, entire ethnic groups, dog whistling his violent white supremacist base, taking on a Gold Star family, a US judge of Mexican heritage, retweeting a gif of Hillary Clinton being attacked, going after journalists. This is hardly acceptable behaviour for a regular human being, much less a US President. Twitter has, rightfully albeit slowly, banned other users for similar behaviour. 

Monteiro intelligently and correctly has spent considerable amount of time and effort engaging with @Jack and @Biz (Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO & Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter) highlighting the many instances of misuse of their platform by extremists (I’m including DT in that description…) and what should be done with them, according to their own Terms of Service.

By the levels of engagement between them, they clearly see what he’s saying, but they aren’t listening or are deliberately choosing not to do anything having listened. If they were, there would be less hoo-haa about #280 (which, lets face it, just makes Twitter a rubbish Facebook) and more about ensuring that users behaviour on Twitter was appropriate, respectful and not warmongering. 

In a similar manner, Instagram recently updated its app, allowing users greater functionality (to use multiple images in a single post, landscape and portrait modes, and, errr,  stickers, similar to Snapchat – you know those annoying floral headdresses and bunny rabbit noses? Yeah, those!!).

Some of the updates have been great – threaded comments, the previously mentioned multiple images per post, and Instagram Stories, but there is one simple thing that users have been crying out for, and that is a chronological order of posts. 

Clearly Instagram, much like Twitter, is a commercial endeavour, not some sort of altruistic venture, and its algorithm is built so that the advertising (which thankfully has become less invasive in recent months) is aimed at the correct target audiences, but forcing users into a system that they have clearly expressed as not being something that they want, is a sign that a company is clearly not listening to its user base. 

Perhaps the numbers won’t fall, perhaps we have all become immune to asking for something from a service, and never getting it, but surely that’s a strange set of behaviours to adhere to!

What does any of this to do with design?

Well, everything we do in Fuzion Communications is a reaction to a briefing from our clients.

They tell us what they need and what they want, and we take it from there. Design is a heavy mix of solution providing, communications and creativity, and as designers a huge part of our process is listening to our clients to provide them with creative work, that satisfies their brief. 

Ultimately, our design comes from listening.  

Phew…that’s off my chest!

Jonathan Leahy Maharaj - FuzionJonathan

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

 

Ryanair – Is the biggest crisis the attitude?

October 1, 2017

Ryanair - Always Getting Better

Early last week we were asked to comment by the publication Fora.ie about the whole Ryanair fiasco and what we thought of how they handled their crisis.

In a crisis situation we always advise –

  • Don’t hide
  • Quickly establish the facts
  • Be 100% truthful
  • Always provide a solution (or a least be honest about working hard to find one)
  • Don’t be afraid to say sorry (as long as you mean it)
  • Don’t be shy about telling people the good things you are doing

This can be achieved with a combination of holding statements, follow up statements, interviews and implementing any necessary changes.

In the case of Ryanair there wasn’t really a formal apology but Michael O’Leary was door stopped by reporters and did say it was “clearly a mess” but he went on to point out that it was just 2% of their passengers that had been affected. I think Michael is missing the point here about focussing on the good things!

On their website where they have a page dedicated to the cancelled flights they also remind people of this “2%” as well as listing the flights that have been cancelled. They also provide a ‘link’ to a page that directs people to an EU legislation document about entitlements to refunds and compensation.

The words “sorry” or “apologise” don’t appear anywhere!

Ryanair - Cancelled Flights

Understandably customers are irate – Ryanair are not helping the situation by drip feeding news about cancelled flights, their customer contact lines not being managed efficiently and are still overheating their situation by promoting flights at “€19.99”.

Furthermore, they have been denying that part of the problem is pilots leaving to take jobs in other airlines.

This scenario has got even worse with pilots going public with their gripes and painting a pretty awful picture about what life is like working for the ‘low care’ airline.

All of this comes at a time when the airline has been trying to refocus it’s brand with their “Always Getting Better” campaign.

A different scenario? 

So – would it have made a difference if Ryanair were upfront, issued a formal apology and showed genuine empathy with inconvenienced customers and were honest about solutions and assurances going forward?

The answer would be a big “Yes” but there is also a big “But” to contend with.

The effectiveness of this approach will depend on what people feel about the company when embarks on such a course –

  • Do people feel warmly towards the airline?
  • Do they believe that there is a genuine concern for customers?
  • Do they believe that staff at the airline are treated well?
  • Do they believe that this company does charitable work?
  • Do they believe there is a strong moral compass at the airline?
  • Have they communicated the great things (if such things exist) they have been doing to the general public and stakeholders?

Maybe realising this Michael felt there was no point pretending to care?

In a crisis a robust process will definitely help but the best preparation for a crisis is to be good and do good things and communicate this effectively – it is only then that people will be willing to listen to your apology and accept it.

Leopards don’t change their spots and not caring will bite you in the butt eventually.

Greg Canty 

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

Gina London – The Message is clear: Soft skills are a critical part of success

September 3, 2017

Back to school

It’s back to school time for the kids!

While we prepare to deal with the school-run surge in morning traffic, my daughter Lulu and the rest of Ireland’s students are (blessedly) preparing to sling on their book bags again.

Which reminds me, I spoke last Tuesday to a high level group of HR directors from an assortment of top tech companies.

Why do these professionals remind me of schoolchildren? – because we grown-up employees have a lot in common with not-yet-grown-up pupils!

The HR directors shared some of the biggest issues employees say they’re facing.

Top concerns centered around well-being and communications. They’re connected – and they’re issues children face as well.

When I lived in Italy, Lulu went to Aliotti, the most progressive primary school in town.

There, under the guidance of director Donata Baroni and English instructor Pavlina Checcacci, students are taught so-called ‘soft-skills’ alongside other subjects as part of core curriculum.

You can’t teach only knowledge anymore,” Pavlina says. “Twenty years ago, you went to university and studied a subject like engineering. The methodologies didn’t change for about every 10 years. Now it’s every five years. So, when you get out of school, what you learned is already out of date. Today, we need people who can communicate. That makes the difference.

If two people have the same amount of knowledge, yet one also has soft skills and the other one does not, the difference in their success is significant. Your success in business starts in primary school,” Pavlina says.

Likewise, here in Ireland, John Doran, guidance counsellor at Patrician Secondary School in Newbridge, is championing his own approach called ‘Ways to Wellbeing‘, which, he says, “encourages students to adopt a growth mindset and to communicate with confidence“. It is currently being taught in 120 schools in Ireland and Europe. “If we don’t consciously teach young people to communicate, find their voice and create a literacy around emotional intelligence, we may end up with a generation in a fast-changing world that is unemployed, under-employed, or unemployable” John states.

Here in the business world, it’s high time to get serious about soft skills.

They’re not soft, they’re critical!

Let’s compare some student approaches to what we can do in our own professional lives:

1 Learn to give and receive constructive feedback

Here’s an example from Aliotti: Each child draws a picture. The artwork is put up on the wall. Each child is given a Post-it note and instructed to write one thing they like about the picture, one suggestion of what to do differently next time and then another thing they like.  The classic “compliment sandwich”.

At an early age and with a distinct twist, the children aren’t allowed to simply write something they “don’t like” in the middle. They must frame the criticism as a suggestion for the future.

Each artist reads the feedback aloud and thanks the writers.

This approach is structured and it’s a big deal – Imagine how more effective our business meeting debriefs would be if we had all learned, as children, how to organise our thoughts this way.

Productivity would surely increase if we spent less time getting personally offended and defensive from feedback. Learning not to punish the past but empower the future is a trademark of effective communicators.

2 Learn to work in groups

The HR directors who gathered at McKesson Cork’s remodelled offices, checked out the new “collaboration pods” – designed to get employees away from individual work stations and come together as teams.

More and more firms are updating work environments this way.

Similarly, John’s ‘Ways to Wellbeing‘ programme encourages group sharing for his students and Aliotti’s Pavlina says they’re committed to stop requiring children to work quietly alone.

When in your life will you sit in a room of 30 adults and not take opportunities to discuss things? We can’t prepare kids for a reality that doesn’t exist.”

3 Learn to be kind to others and yourself

Studies show the number one factor in team effectiveness is emotional sensitivity to the others.

Learning empathy is key because effective teams make sure everyone speaks and contributes to get a lot of ideas on the table and build consensus around the best idea.

‘Ways to Wellbeing’, stresses techniques to help develop more positive and constructive relationships. “We help them change their emotional state from one of fear and anxiety to one of effort and application” says John.

4 Learn how to learn from your mistakes

Aliotti concentrates less on grades and more on the process of problem-solving.

Pavlina puts it this way: “Life is all about the mistakes and errors and learning from them. So, we don’t just correct tests, we ask questions like ‘What did you do? Why did you do that? What can you do differently next time?’

We find the child who gets perfect grades and never makes mistakes may actually have difficulty as they get older. Children who learn how to try again and again may have an advantage.

Top university business schools like Stanford and Harvard are also adding highly interactive classes and exercises to develop these types of people to people skills. Your place of employment can introduce them too. After all, we’re all students in this school called life.

It’s time to learn soft!

From presentations, to one-on-one scenarios, from spoken to written if you have a question about communications that you would like me to deal with in my column in the Sunday Independent please send me an email at gina@fuzion.ie .

Gina London - Fuzion CommunicationsGina London

Gina London is a former CNN anchor and international campaign strategist who is now a Strategic Communications director with Fuzion Communications. She serves as media commentator, emcee and corporate consultant. @TheGinaLondon

Facebook capitalises on Celebrity Endorsements and Influencer Marketing

August 31, 2017

Recently Facebook announced new controls and capabilities for branded content marketers.

What does this mean?

For brands

This means that any influencer sponsored content can be seen and promoted by the brand once it is tagged and flagged. This gives the brand the ability to publish the post and also reach bigger audiences by boosting it.

Facebook - Influencer content

Once boosted the post will then appear with a ‘sponsored‘ tag allowing followers to see what is a paid for collaboration and what is not.

Facebook - Influencer posts

Now I know people are thinking about ways of getting around this but lets face it, it’s Facebook and there is no way around the all seeing, all knowing Wizard of OZ!

What will happen and is happening quiet frequently already, is that Facebook will suppress posts that do not carry any budget. Without extra budget a collaboration with an influencer may not generate the desired results/visibility.

A really positive outlook for this new change with Facebook is that brands can have peace of mind when it comes to being properly represented and can be selective with who they work with. Another plus is that the post will appear as originated by the creator with access to the content insights such as reach, engagement, total spend and cost per 1000 impression(CPM) to help them determine the effectiveness of posts that creators tagged them in.

For Influencers/Celebrities

This new way of collaborating on Facebook is a great way to show their followers how selective they are when choosing a brand to work with and to show that they are loyal to brands, not just promoting brands for the sake of it.

A lot of influencers are already very selective about the brands they work with it but this will change how some influencers approach this part of their job.

It will also separate those who have always been true and honest to their followers from those who are taking everything on in order to build a following and reach that “Everyone who wants to work with me” status, ultimately rendering their audience useless!

For PR/Digital Agencies

For agencies this is great news and helps when preparing post-campaign reports as well as building relationships for all involved – We love MEASUREMENT! (well our clients do!).

Your clients can rest easy that the collaborations you have suggested with the influencers you suggested were worth the spend. With access to the content insights all parties can see the results enabling you to measure what activity was the most successful and with what influencer. This can determine who the client might work with again in the future.

This new approach could see brands turning to lesser know influencers or celebrities that are not as much in the limelight as The Kardashians but have a genuine following. Choosing to work with then could allow brands to reach a bigger audience that they may not have tapped into yet.

For more information check out the Facebook announcement here: www.facebook.com/business/news/new-controls-and-capabilities-for-branded-content-marketers

Arlene

Arlene Foy is an Account Manager with Fuzion Communications, a full service agency who have offices in Dublin and Cork. 

Fuzion offer a full Social Media Consultancy service.

10 Years of Hashtags – The Magic is in The Message

August 23, 2017

Hasttags Explained

I see the confused look on their faces and Hashtags are often just one step too far!

What is all this hashtag business?” I get asked.

At times it does feel like we are talking another language…

At my social media courses I think it is the one thing that definitely seems to bother people the most. It is a step too far: On Twitter they understand followers, they get following and know that tweets must be less than 140 characters but the mere mention of Hashtags and it seems to add that Tipping Point of confusion that never fails to get a few moans and groans of exasperation. Too much!

So what the hell are these nasty things and how and when might you use them?

In very simple terms a Hashtag is a means of adding a “tag” or label to a post (tweet) on Twitter by using the “#” symbol followed by a continuous set of characters. This is normally a word or a few words joined together.

For example if I prepared a tweet about a new shop opening in town I might tweet “Great to see a new shop opening on Grafton Street #Positivity

When you do this on Twitter it automatically changes the colour of this text, making it stand out and it also adds some “link” functionality to that word(s). If you click on this “link” Twitter will display a list of all the tweets where this hashtag was used.

In a way it gathers them together, which is really handy if it brings the reader to a bunch of tweets about a topic they were very interested in.

While Twitter will track popular topics and show you the keywords that are used most frequently in posts (trending) it will also track the most frequently used hashtags. If everyone who is talking about a popular topic uses a particular hashtag to label these posts it not only gathers them together but it also helps to get the topic trending.

Hashtag ExplainedSo when might I use a hashtag?

For me the single biggest advantage to the use of a hashtag is the simple colour change to that keyword. The text appearing in a different colour draws the readers attention to it and when used properly it can help to communicate the subject matter of that post. The link functionality as discussed earlier is an added bonus.

You can use your own hashtags (there is no ownership of them) or decide to join in on conversations about topics where a particular hashtag is being used already and use it in your posts – this can give you and your tweet visibility if this topic has stirred up a lot of interest.

For me a hashtag can be used in a powerful way to signify a Key Message of yours or a significant  “Breadcrumb” (click that link for my blog about key messages) that you wish to leave behind about you and your business for the reader.

You might use a hashtag to label posts about:

  • An event or concert #LondonFoodFest or #EP14 (Electric Picnic 2014)
  • Elections #LE14 (Local Elections 2014)
  • A place #Dublin
  • A cause #LGBTRights
  • A sentiment #LoveCork
  • An outlook #Positivity
  • A philosophy #WinHappy
  • A show #Murnaghan
  • Your team #LFC #YNWA
  • Publicising job opportunities #Jobs or #JobFairy

You can use the hashtags in very many ways to suit the occasion and to draw extra attention to the point you want to make or a particular keyword(s) in your post.

Murnaghan

You will find the more progressive TV shows will encourage the viewer to tweet about a topic being discussed and will suggest a hashtag to use – in a way the viewer is asked to “join the discussion“.

Hashtags are also appearing in adverts for brands, where they are often used to help create an association for the consumer between a sentiment and the product or service #LoveLife.

For me hashtags are used best when you decide on a “family” of these, which should be used consistently for you and your business.

Having decided on your key messages you might devise a range of hashtags that might best be used to communicate these little breadcrumbs about you and your business.

For example a restaurant in Dublin who prides themselves on using local artisan suppliers, who have an extensive menu with good gluten free and vegetarian options, who stock a range of craft beers and is very proud of the city and who offer free treats on a Tuesday, might regularly tweet using hashtags such as:

#SourceLocal #Artisan  #GlutenFree  #VegMenus  #CraftBeers  #LoveDublin  #TreatTuesday (hopefully not all at the same time!)

When you are posting you are best keeping your hashtags as short as possible, memorable and try to use them just one at a time in tweets. Used consistently and in the right context you would be surprised how quickly a place gets known for these things.

For example when I tweet I use hashtags a lot to draw attention to particular things in my posts and the ones I use most frequently are #Positivity (when talking about good news or job announcements) #WinHappy (when talking about Fuzion – this is a core philosophy) #FuzionFriday (when talking about our Friday lunch with the team) #FuzionPlaylist (when I mention the music playing in the office).

It amazes me when people play these back to me (“I’d love to join ye for FuzionFriday some day”) in the context that I intended and I then realise that I have managed to convey our key messages effectively by using this simple Twitter device.

I do fully understand people’s frustration with all of this new media and it’s quirks and idiosyncrasies but most of it is built to be easy to use ….once you know how!

You may prefer not to use hashtags at all (sometimes there may be no need) but if you want to get that special message across then start using this new language…

 #HashtagHeaven

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion Communications

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

Political Marketing – The Irish Perspective

August 17, 2017

Simpsons - Irish Political Parties

Many phrases such as “political management”, “packaged politics”, “promotional politics”, or “modern political communications”, have been used to describe what is mostly commonly referred to as “political marketing”.

As such, there is a general confusion about the definition of ‘political marketing’ but we can mostly agree that it is where political parties adopt business concepts that help to them to achieve electoral success.

There are three main categories to describe political parties in Ireland, the ‘convinced ideologist’, the ‘tactical populist’, and the ‘relationship builder’.

Notwithstanding a cursory glance, it can hardly be said that any of the political parties in Ireland are a ‘convinced ideologist’, this is where they lead the political market, and ignore public opinion, as they know their political approach is one they believe to be the right one.

Fianna Fáíl and their strategic position on nationalism is interesting, as their actions rarely match up with their past verbal rhetoric.

Fianna Fáil prides itself on a core value of nationalism, yet nationalism does not appear to supersede its aims for electoral success. For example, their past actions while in government have often been to maintain the ‘status quo’ in Northern Ireland, with the last real action being evident in the 1980’s when Charlie Haughey met with the British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. In addition to this, Fianna Fáil has often been responsible for the imprisonment of IRA members, as well as enacting legislation to curtail their actions. Despite this, the party still brands itself as the “Republican Party.”

Let’s compare them to Sinn Fein; while the “Shinners” have embraced their political ideology of nationalism, they have never been in government in the South; so their political commitment to this cause has never been challenged.

Similarly, it would be difficult to reconcile Sinn Féin’s inherent shroud of secrecy with openness and inclusion, where as a leader of the political market, this requires placing openness and inclusion as a high priority.

Likewise, other parties that have had their time in government, Fine Gael, the Greens, and the Labour Party, have also encountered challenges to their core tenets.

Fine Gael is more or less associated with a moralistic discourse and ideology of Church teachings, for example in 1983 it was faced with the abortion referendum. Similarly, while Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin have often been successful in uniting people under a core message, Fine Gael have failed to sell their message to their supporters of being the fiscally responsible party of GE16, with their “Let’s Keep the Recovery Going” slogan – which was undoubtedly a nod to their gallant efforts of bringing the country back from the brink of economic ruin (something that they attributed to Fianna Fáil at every chance they got).

Any time I think of the Labour Party I often find myself using the quote by Eamon De Valera “Labour must wait”. Indeed, Labour waited for its time in government, they got it, messed it up, got it again, and the cycle of political woe (or stupidity) followed suit.

Labour have been traditionally associated with a political ideology, explicitly representing the working class and preaching ‘social democracy’. Think back to the years of austerity, when Labour paid harshly for selling their political ideology during election campaigns, and were hung out to dry by voters for delivering something completely different.

Don’t worry; all parties will get their turn!

Next, the Green Party. Preachers of climate change and eco-warriors, now led by Eamon Ryan, the three-person party, has not always been the climate change heroes we think they are.

At first glance, we often see the party leading the fight against climate change, often bringing legislation forward for the good of the people, irrespective of public opinion. Yet, they entered into a coalition government with Fianna Fáil, allowing the development for a motorway through an archaeological sensitive area near the Hill of Tara. They are not the eco-warriors they sell themselves to be.

AAA/Solidarity/PBP and any other acronym they come up with to be more relevant.

The two party coalition of hard leftists advocate strongly against austerity, yet in recent months they rebranded themselves as ‘Solidarity’ – signifying their cognisance that public opinion designs their policy goals, as opposed to strict anti-austerity ideologies.

As such, this left ‘party’ bloc – along with the newer, smaller parties (Socdems and Renua), and the occasional independent grouping, would often favour public opinion over ideology.

This is often termed as the ‘tactical populist’, adopting for a top-down approach, having a reliance on external groups, they follow the market, and their activities consist of uncovering and responding to public opinion as opposed to focusing on ideology.

Foe example: Solidarity/PBP on their position of water charges, or the Dáíl prayer; the Socdems on their positon of the Church and State separation in respect of the public furore over the National Maternity Hospital. In this regard, they are more inclined to focus on relationships with the media, voters, and the expense of other stakeholders.

In Ireland, each of the larger political parties are professionally organised from the bottom up (Fianna Fáíl and Sinn Féin started as underground grass-root movements).

This subsequently resulted in the parties holding annual conferences, ostensibly, to discuss party ideologies and policy with their members. In comparison to the Labour Party, they are often forced to follow conference policy. For example, the party must have a special conference before the parliamentary party enters into a coalition.

By contrast, Fine Gael and other parties – the Greens, Socdems, and Renua – are less bound by the decision of the party conferences, and Fianna Fáil being the least of all.

The policies of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, and fringe parties are much vaguer and of little relevance to party members.

Since the support of the party does not depend on party policy, party leaders are often free to advocate whatever policy is most electorally beneficial – as such; they are more or less termed as a ‘relationship builder’.

They develop policies that are in line with their core values, but also consider public opinion to be just as important – an attempt to balance being responsive to public opinion while following the party’s core beliefs. As such, their marketing activities often consist of synthesising the diverse opinions that exist within society.

For example, Fianna Fáil is really a ‘catch-all’ party. Party policy is widely regarded as whatever is most likely to be popular amongst voters, or embarrassing the opposition. In other words, they make policies that reflect what the market ‘really wants’, and reduce their ideological baggage.

To sum this strategy up, here is a quote from an unnamed Fianna Fáíl TD in an Irish Times article in the early 1980’s; “The party works out which side of an issue will win electorally and that’s the side it will always be on – the winning side.”

With that said, their actions are restricted party ideology e.g nationalism and reunification for Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin, proper Catholic ethics for Fine Gael.

In an Irish context, political parties often change their political marketing strategy, with their strategy often being a matter of degree and dynamic in which parties can choose to gravitate from being a convinced ideologist, relationship builder, and so on.

Moving from one position to the next depends on the competitive environment the party inhabits.

For example, Tony Blair and ‘New Labour’, Fianna Fáil’s position on the contentious issue of water charges – abolition of water charges was key to its electoral offering and its corresponding rejuvenation during GE16. Once elected, their position changed on multiple occasions as it repeatedly sought to align its ideology with public opinion.

All parties have there own way of going about their business and as voters we need to decide whose beliefs do we align with and if it is important to us that they will actually stand by their convictions.

Andrew RooneyAndrew Rooney

Andrew Rooney is a PR Intern with Fuzion Communications


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