Archive for the ‘Creativity’ Category

How I survived a year of Working From Home!

April 16, 2021

Many of us have a variation on the story now, but in March of 2020 I found myself working from home as a full-time employee for the first time. I make the full-time distinction as I had worked for myself and on my own terms for a few years, but this was different.

Or was it?

In actuality it turned out that the lessons and good habits I had developed prior to re-joining full-time about 6 years ago, were very much still applicable.

When we decamped to our home workspaces in March of 2020 “for a few weeks” we weren’t to know what a paradigm shift it would be. At Fuzion, we had to hit the ground running as some of our clients became extra-busy, especially our design clients, so there wasn’t a lot of time to adapt. Luckily there were some quick hacks that could be applied to make for a productive and positive work from home situation. Here are some of my favourite tips that allowed me to survive and thrive in a year of WFH.

Segregate your work and home life, even if just in your head.

After all, how do you avoid bringing work home, when you work from home? Little mind-hacks can be a great help. For example, you can create a home mood or a work mood, through use of light and sound. I’ve back-lit my Mac, which is only on during work hours and I have taken our Fuzion Design favourite radio station BBC Six Music with me, which I only play during work hours.

After all, Techno Tuesday is great for focus and it just may save your life. When it’s time to stop, the Mac goes off, the lights change and I swap the radio for a playlist or TV.

A Good Workspace is Key.

Many of us kicked off last March on sofas or at kitchen tables. Try and avoid this, get a desk that you can keep just for work. Use a comfortable chair, that you can roll away at end of day. Pay attention to ergonomics as you’ll be sitting there 8 hours a day. Keep your workspace minimalist and uncluttered, distraction free. Apply the same to anything in your peripheral vision, if you can.

Remember to Stand.

Your back will thank you and your focus will thank you. Heck, if you have to, do as Haruki Murakami said and Dance, Dance, Dance. Especially if it’s techno Tuesday. Who’s to stop you? (Magic Carpet Ride by the Mighty Dub Katz is on the radio as I type, be right back).

Choose to Commute.

Take a walk in the morning or the evening straight after work. As much as you might think you don’t miss a commute, the post-work exercise helps reset your brain. Take a camera with you so that you’re always watching out for a good photo and engaged with and interested in your environment, even if you walk it every day. That’ll also help you stretch your eyes after a day of staring at a screen. Some days do the route in reverse! Every bit helps.

Keep good work practices.

Filing, admin, communication. Manage and track your time, keep notes to mitigate the COVID brain fog. Use tools that suit your new work environment. Whether for note taking, collaboration or file transfer. Don’t have a NAS server? Use Google or Dropbox or other collaborative file sharing tools to ensure that your shared files remain in a central location and are always up to date.

Have a department chat group or Slack (we use Google Chat). It’s great for quick questions or a bit of idle chit chat (not to be underestimated).

Get up, get dressed!

Get dressed for work every day, even if you’re only going to be seen on Zoom. If you have to plan what to wear the night before, you’ll instantly feel organised the next morning. Pride in your appearance is great for instilling some positivity and good for your mental health. The ritual of getting ready is familiar and helps you get in a work frame of mind. Don’t worry too much about dress code, but dress in a way that makes you feel good and ready to have a good day.

Watch your breaks

Have a good breakfast and stick to your lunch breaks. Taking breaks is important, even if to stand up and step out of the room. Don’t overdo the breaks either, remember you are at work and if you’re a designer too, you’ll know it ruins that sense of flow we so often need.

Don’t be a hermit

Network, stay in touch with peers, whether via social media or otherwise. Use organised feeds to ensure you’re getting enough good news and inspiration. Avoid doom-scrolling on social media by making lists that you can check in on. If you’ve to catch up with a colleague, take a few minutes extra and do it by video, studies have shown the positive effects of that level of human engagement (see wired article TBC). Even a short DM chat to touch base with a colleague can help your team grow.

Make time for the team. At Fuzion we have a semi-formal Monday morning catch up and briefing. At week’s end it’s Fuzion Friday – which is as informal as you get and a nice way to finish your week. When you’re out for a walk, arrange to meet a friend for a coffee or a chat, even just to feel normal. Especially if you live alone. Just because you’re WFH doesn’t mean you have to be be a hermit.

Be flexible.

For some people. Standard office hours won’t always work when you’re at home. Small people (children) and home life can interrupt. Plan your work when it’s practical, even if that’s earlier in the morning or later into the evening. Enjoy the flexibility, rather than fighting against it.

Take pride in achieving that balance.

Sh!t Happens

Remember, sh!t happens and it’s rarely the end of the world. If the server goes down, your Zoom will only show you as a cat, or a colleague can’t find files at the last second, don’t sweat it. You’re all doing brilliantly. We ARE all in it together. Stay positive. Positivity is contagious.

Thanks for coming to my TED talk!

Mark

Mark Kenny is a Senior Graphic Designer, part of the Graphic Design team with Fuzion Communications who provide a full print and digital design from offices in Dublin and Cork.

A Clever way to use a podcast: Nano Nagle Place

April 15, 2021

When it comes to your Digital Marketing, a very clever way of making your organisation or brand stand out could be to start your own “Podcast Show“, effectively creating your own unique Media Channel to reach your target audience.

Podcasts can be a very powerful addition to your digital assets, whereby your audience get to hear from your team, hear about the important issues and how you are unique, all in your own voice. Someone listening to just one episode can be worth so much more than ‘liking’ an image on Instagram or Facebook and will create a much deeper, long lasting connection with you

Internationally, there are about 800,000 podcasts, making up almost 30 million episodes in 100 languages. Just 250,000 of these are “active” using the criteria of published in the last month. The people that subscribe and listen to podcasts tend to be extremely loyal to them and follow a listening routine.

Podcasts are perfect for the commuting, gym going demographic who want to be entertained and educated while they go about their daily tasks but can’t watch their screens and also those who are curious and want to delve into topics in a much deeper and more meaningful way.

The beauty of the podcast format is that it is so flexible and it can be used in so many special ways to do quite different jobs, from listening to an expert talking about their subject matter to even bedtime stories for children!

The podcasts can be featured on your website, included in email campaigns and used as very valuable social media content.

Nano Nagle Place Podcast

In the case of the Nano Nagle Place podcast, we were approached by the very innovative team there and they wanted to tell the very special story of the transformation of the near derelict, but hugely significant South Pres site in Cork city, to the fantastic place that they have today including a Visitor Centre, Gardens, Restaurant, Archives, Meeting Rooms and home to the Ministry, which includes the Lantern Project, the Men’s Group and the Cork Migrant Centre.

In order to tell this very special story we agreed to record a series of interviews with a large cast of very special characters and we created a podcast “Show” and a sequential series of “episodes” , each telling the story of the transformation of the place, but also providing a huge insight into the history, the characters, the personalities, the diversity, the ethos, the vision and the sacredness of Nano Nagle Place, which touches everyone that works and visits there.

In the clever series we hear about:

  • Nano Nagle’s Story
  • Life as a nun in a closed order
  • The love of teaching and the need for creativity
  • Life in inner city Cork
  • The planning and thinking behind the development
  • The challenges with the redevelopment of the old buildings
  • Planning permission, funding challenges and rebuilding
  • The special work of the Presentation Order in Ireland and overseas
  • The passion of everyone involved
  • The retirees who volunteer as tour guides and as coordinators in other activities
  • Transformational and innovative work with migrants
  • Famous Cork DJs bringing joy to migrant children through Hip Hop
  • A vision to take Nano’s work into the future

All of this story is delivered with passion by the cast of Sisters, team members and volunteers from all walks of life, who have all fallen under Nano Nagle’s spell, as you will hear in the podcast series.

We are really proud to have been part of this podcast series, all of which was recorded during Covid in conditions that were not ideal, over Zoom, in rooms with socially distanced guests and open windows, but I hope you agree they have captured the magic of the Nano Nagle story.

We were part of the planning, we created the show graphics, we recorded and edited all episodes and I had the privilege of hosting these wonderful conversations.

You can hear the first episode of the podcast series here featuring he very special Sr. Mary Dineen who said goodbye to her mum and walked into South Pres as a novitiate on a sunny day in September 1955, a closed order at the time. She tells her fascinating story in huge detail, providing a unique perspective of her life and insights into educating children from inner city, working class Cork.

Click here to hear the episode with Sr. Mary Dineen

This is just a small example of the power of podcasting, a unique way to reach your audiences and tell a story in a special way that is captured for today and for posterity.

Greg 

Greg Canty is the producer of this and other client podcasts and his own, ‘Win Happy’ podcast. We offer a full podcasting production service to clients..

Why is having a sense of purpose so important?

March 15, 2021
Joe Caslin - IACP Mural

Why is having a sense of purpose so important?

What is ‘purpose’ and why is having one so important? Purpose can be described as the reason for which something exists or is done, made, or used.

To me, I don’t think anyone has a set purpose for their whole life, I think it changes throughout our lifetime, naturally changing as our life ebbs and flows. I see purpose as both striving to achieve a goal and a specific outcome but also enjoying the journey while you’re on it, working towards something but enjoying what you hope you will someday achieve.

Working on your ambitions and personal goals while also potentially changing the lives of other people, is one of the reasons I enjoy what I do. Feeling like the work you do has a purpose and a meaning is one of life’s greatest joys.

I’m a strong believer in manifesting what you want in life, and last year, when I began my journey with Fuzion I wrote down a goal of mine; to work with a mental health organisation. Being a big advocate for mental health myself, I wanted to feel as though I was doing some good and helping others as much as I could in my day-to-day life; any little part I could play.

Joe Caslin - IACP Mural

When we got to pitch to work with the IACP I knew it was an account I had to work on.

Working alongside them last year and launching their national ‘Look After Yourself‘ campaign was one of the highlights of my year. From team brainstorms to reaching out to strangers, with notes in their door to see if we could put a mural on the side of their house (we’ll do anything to get the job done, us PR folk!) to reaching out to Joe Caslin and seeing his vision of the campaign come to life in a mural on Montague Lane in Dublin was an exceptional moment for me and no doubt my Fuzion colleagues too.

This campaign sought to shine a light on men’s mental health, to break the stigma surrounding toxic masculinity and to encourage young men to see therapy as something they shouldn’t be ashamed of doing, and instead encourage each other to seek help if they need it.

There is no shame in asking for help, and although there is still a lot of work left to be done to break the stigma of therapy, we do hope this campaign started a conversation and even encouraged one person to seek help.

Not only did this campaign, I hope, help others but it also helped me achieve my sense of purpose. I would consider working on this campaign not only a highlight for me but the most noteworthy moment in my career thus far and I plan to be talking about it for years to come!

Michelle Harrison , Fuzion Communications

Michelle

Michelle Harrison is part of PR team at Fuzion Communications, working from our Dublin office

The Importance of Staying Visible..

February 8, 2021

No matter what way you look at it, the Covid-19 pandemic has been a trying time for everyone. But as the saying goes, ‘with every cloud there is a silver lining’ – which in my view has been the drastic business transformation and surge of digitisation that we have experienced over the past year.

There has never been a time when staying visible online has been more important for business survival.

With doors closing around the country due to the on-going Covid-19 level 5 restrictions, many businesses have had no choice but to adapt ‘from bricks to clicks’ in order to remain viable.

At Fuzion, we work closely with the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs), to help share the stories of the hundreds of micro-enterprises and SMEs around the country with media – in the hope that it will encourage and inspire others who may be looking to start or grow their business – or for those struggling, to contact their Local Enterprise Office for support.

Through this work, I have been fortunate enough to work with some amazing LEO client businesses from all over Ireland – helping to share their stories of how they have adapted / pivoted (…..even battled) through the pandemic and how they have come out the other side with the help and guidance of the LEOs.

The LEO Trading Online Voucher has had particular impact across the country – with over 13,000 TOV’s approved in 2020…… That’s a whopping 13,000 businesses supported with developing or enhancing their online presence!

From this work, my little nuggets of advice to any small business would be:

  • If you haven’t already, contact your nearest LEO – they provide so much support in terms of business advice, mentoring and grants such as the TOV mentioned above, Business Continuity Vouchers, Feasibility Grants and so much more
  • Again, if you haven’t already – get online! A website ideally or a social media channel where you can keep your customers updated, share new products, blogs etc.
  • Try to think outside the box – now is the time to create a new branch for your business or solution for your customers – take the chance it could pay off!
  • Work on your ‘story’ in three short paragraphs & engage with local media to share your story or share via short blogs / social posts
    • How/Why you started the business
    • How your business adapted / transformed – (including any relevant figures such as online sale growth Vs 2019)
    • Any future plans that you have for your business – ie. new employees, overseas expansion, new stockists etc.
  • Good quality, high resolution photography is a must if engaging in any PR / online activity
    • Know your angles
    • Use colourful props or something that explains your business in the shots
    • Images can be taken by a PR photographer or on your smartphone with a family member or friend if taken landscape
  • Create video content – whether it’s short 30’ second “Meet the Team” videos or a “Hero Video” explaining your business proposition – it is an engaging way to reach your audience
  • If you are a sole trader or very small business – it can be an isolating place – join a network or reach out to professionals (such as ourselves 😉) if you need a sounding board or business support
  • Be consistent and persistent
    • Stay visible & keep plugging and reminding people of why you are so great and why they need your products / services!
    • Use social media advertising and Google Ads to your advantage – with so much competition online – it pays off to pay a little!
    • Connect and talk to your audience online – ask them questions and engage – you might learn something new!

Much of this you may already know – but I hope it has helped just to be reminded or re-energised your motivation!

Most of all it is important to know that the opportunity is there for those who wish to dive head first into the challenges – the decision is ultimately yours whether to stay the way you are or take the plunge!

Suzanne Meade, Fuzion CommunicationsSuzanne

Suzanne Meade is an Account Manager with  Fuzion Communications, who offer Marketing, PR, Graphic Design and Digital Marketing services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

My Fuzion highlights by Alison O’Brien

November 26, 2020

Irish War Crimes

Fresh out of college in October 2006, having just graduated with my Masters in Public Relations from Dublin Institute of Technology, I moved home to Cork with the ambition of bagging myself my dream job in PR. After doing my research and seeing who was who in Cork, I was delighted when Dee and Greg said they would meet me for a coffee.

I had my first “official interview”, which thankfully was more like having a chat with old friends, in The White Horse in Ballincollig, which incidentally became one of my very first clients!

I liked the sound of Fuzion, and they liked the sound of me, and so my PR career was borne!

On January 7th, 2007, I joined Dee and Greg in Fuzion as their first employee, working from their home. Dee and I shared an office, and I learned the ropes from one of the best in the business. I was thrown straight into the midst of consumer PR working on Danish fashion brands b.young and ICHI

Days were filled with drafting press releases, coordinating advertising campaigns, and creating press packs, which at that time involved hours of burning product images onto CDs, and packing up lovely goodies to send to fashion journalists in Ireland’s top titles. The reward was when I would get big envelopes in the post in the weeks that followed, these envelopes contained press coverage!

Yes actual press clippings; there was no such thing as receiving a daily email with your clippings automatically uploaded onto a server for you – you had to scan each one carefully and save every column inch of coverage for the client – but I loved it. There was the work I was doing, featured in national titles!

Early in 2007, we had our first team planning meeting to discuss how we were going to put Fuzion on the map, and get ourselves noticed. This meeting also happened to be the first ever Fuzion Friday! Ideas flowed, and so did the wine.. and the rest is history!!

Fuzion Friday became a regular fixture on the Fuzion weekly calendar, and to this day is an opportunity for the Fuzion team to sit back, share time together and relax after putting in a hard week’s work. On the odd occasion Fuzion Friday lunches turned into Fuzion Friday after work drinks – but as the saying goes, “work hard, play hard”!

In my early years with Fuzion, I would say that my car could have driven on autopilot to Killarney, as I was up and down the road so often, working on a variety of clients in The Kingdom, from the Killarney Outlet Centre to Killarney Golf and Fishing Club to Christmas in Killarney. All these projects gave me great experience, and I worked with lots of people who were passionate about doing great work in their community. 

The summer of 2007 saw Fuzion work on Tour de Munster for the very first time, which today remains Fuzion’s longest standing client!

Tour de Munster

It has been an honour to work on this charity cycle, which has raised phenomenal funds for various beneficiaries over the years. Today the main beneficiaries are the Munster branches of Down Syndrome Ireland; but the beneficiary in 2007 was the Cystic Fibrosis Association of Ireland (CFAI), and our work with them through Tour de Munster led to us working with the association on an ongoing basis for a number of years.

Working on charity campaigns has been a highlight of my time with Fuzion, but none more so than when we worked with CFAI on what was, literally, a life changing campaign for so many in 2009.

After years of empty and broken promises, the CFAI had lost total and utter confidence in the Department of Health, the HSE and Minister Harney; and decided to take action into their own hands. They challenged the HSE/ Department of Health to honour the commitment given publicly in 2008 to fulfil the promise of having the dedicated CF Unit operational in St Vincent’s by 2010.

We worked with CFAI on a very high profile and evocative campaign, fronted by CF Campaigner Orla Tinsley, entitled  ‘Irish War Crimes’. I was at home one evening when I got a call from Dee to say that the government agreed to honour the commitment to deliver on the vital, dedicated CF unit – this was the proudest moment of my PR career to date and I cried with joy – what we were doing was making a real difference. Our work on this campaign was acknowledged with an Award For Excellence in PR in 2010 for “Best Public Affairs Campaign”.

Mid 2010 saw me take a sabbatical, when I worked with The Hope Foundation for one year as PR/ Media Coordinator, putting into practice everything I had learned on working on charity campaigns to that point. But I missed the variety of working with an agency on a broad range of clients; and so I was fortunate to be able to rejoin Fuzion in 2011 with a refreshed mindset!

Since then I’ve been lucky to work on great clients in an industry that’s changing constantly. There’s so much more to the job than pure PR nowadays, and managing successful campaigns includes everything from strategic planning and implementation to event conceptualisation and management; media relations to sponsorship negotiation; crisis management to social media management, implementing national advertising campaigns to graphic design liaison; so much more, and everything in between.

Over the last few years I’ve been particularly inspired by young entrepreneurs I’ve worked with through UCC’s IGNITE programme and the Local Enterprise Offices’ ‘Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur’ competition – these startups are Ireland’s future, and it’s been an honour to help them and advise them on their journeys.

One of the highlights of my time in Fuzion has to be the great colleagues I’ve worked with, many of whom have become what I know will be lifelong friends.

Doreen O’Mahony deserves a special mention as she was my first “Fuzion friend”. She started a few months after me, and was my partner in crime for the first few years. Together, we “held down the fort” when Dee and Greg took a well earned break for their honeymoon in December 2007. We still talk about how we were having nightly dreams about work, so concerned that we would do everything right so that Dee and Greg could return home knowing their baby was in safe hands! 

Today, as Fuzion celebrates 20 years in business, it still is in safe hands, with a passionate, dedicated, and much larger team behind Dee and Greg, helping to “drive the bus”!

Alison O'Brien, Fuzion CommunicationsAlison O’Brien

Alison O’Brien is an Account Director with Fuzion PR, Marketing & Design, who have offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Apple and the iOS 14 Update

October 20, 2020

iOS4 Update - Heather Lordan

Apple have released their latest iOS update – iOS 14, which comes with loads of new features that make your iPhone more accessible and aesthetically pleasing bringing a fresh look to the things you do most often.

The feature I found the most exciting on the new update is widgets.

Surprisingly, Apple was not the leader in this technology, with Android using widgets for years!

With widgets you can choose from different sizes and arrange them however you like. You can also choose what to have in your widget, for example I’ve put my step counter on my home screen to motivate me to walk more each time I open my phone. There’s more you can add to your home screen widget including clock, calendar, photo, battery icon,upcoming events, reminders, temperature, activity bar, sun rise/set and so much more.

Widgetsmith” is the app that tackles all things widgets and “Colour Widget” is what you use to modify your widget with personal preferences and design. I’ve added some prettier icons to my apps, this can be done through shortcuts.

The new App Library is a brilliant addition to iPhone automatically organising all your apps into one simple, easy-to-navigate view.

Apps are sorted by category and your most used apps are always one tap away. You can also hide apps so they won’t appear on your home screen but will still remain in your app library. I think this is perfect for Deliveroo and JustEat as I don’t want to see them on a Monday morning on my home screen but I’d like to think that they’ll be there for me on Friday evening when I need them!

There are so many cool additions that I still can’t comprehend!

The new iOS 14 includes a “Home” App which allows you to manage your smart home more intelligently and securely. The new Home Kit accessory includes adaptive lighting which enables you to change the colour temperature of your lights throughout the day, face recognition for video cameras and doorbells that can identify people you’ve tagged in your photos. You can also now unlock and start the car with your iPhone!!

iOS 14 also has new ways to track group conversations as well as keeping up with your most important ones.

You can now pin up to nine of your most important conversations to the top of your conversation list, so you can easily get to them. You can also personalise your group conversations with an image or emoji. You can type a name to direct a message to someone in the group as well as customise an active group so you only receive notifications when you’re mentioned.

There’s a lot of room for personalistion with this new update, and it may also take some time to get used to the new app navigation system, but overall the new iOS update is looking really helpful and user friendly.

I hope you found this post helpful!

Heather LordanHeather

Heather Lordan is a PR and Digital Marketing Executive with Fuzion Communications, a full service PR, Graphic Design and Digital Marketing agency with offices in both Dublin and Cork.

Remote Meetings – Rules of Engagement

May 19, 2020

Over the past few weeks from toddlers to elder lemons, we have all had a baptism of fire when it comes to remote meetings.  

While we are well used to them at this stage you can see already an A to Z of how people are great or not so great using them so I thought it was worth writing this as we can all get a little bit better – it’s all about Communications!

Love them or hate them, they are here to stay, so I have some tips that have helped me through this new way of working and could help you as well.

For us at Fuzion, it gives us the opportunity to say that we are very much open for business, sleeves up and ready to help. And it’s working for us – we even have won new business for the first time ever without ever having met the client face to face!

When the lockdown was announced first, we thought that was the end of all of our Social Media and Media Training as well as our Brand and Communications Workshops, but we quickly adapted and we have been busier than ever thanks to Zoom.

Remote meetings will never replace the valuable face to face connectivity but if we can get remote meetings right, think of the time we can save, not to mind the benefits to the environment and our pockets. 

It could mean that when the world “reboots” if we embrace remote meetings we will be far more productive and effective as individuals and as organisations and we might even win back some more quality of life.

Here are some of my learnings since conquering the fear of my laptop camera!!

  1. Be mindful of your image

Treat remote meetings as if you are all in the same room.

Wear work appropriate clothing and be mindful of your backdrop. If you have a home office, how about using one of your company’s pop ups, or if that’s not feasible either have a blank wall, or a backdrop that is clutter free.

The first week I just wore my gym gear – who cared…. It turns out I did. 

Part of my ability to thrive and not just survive during this time is keeping to my rituals and that includes giving myself time to look well every day – that way, if there is a last minute meeting – well I’m ready for my closeup!!!

  1. Turn your camera on – don’t hide

Pre Covid the majority of people kept their camera off and blamed the wifi! Now it’s becoming less acceptable to have your camera turned off.  

Now most people almost resent it where people leave their camera off.  You almost feel that they are hiding something, or that they don’t want to engage with you fully.

In most cases no one will say anything but they will see you (or not at all!) in a different light if you are the hidden one.

  1. Have the right light

Don’t sit with your back to the window or to strong lighting – all people will see is your silhouette. Use soft natural light to illuminate you in front or to the side. 

If you don’t have good lighting, invest in an LED Ring Light – They are great value, can plug into your laptop and offer a variety of lights and strengths depending on the natural light in the room.

In my room, I work with the light behind me, so I have positioned my laptop on books to the side with one of these LED lights behind the camera, so when I’m on a Zoom call, I turn the light on and it really softens the lighting.  

  1. Frame the camera correctly

Try out a number of positions/locations for the camera – which may also change during the day depending on light. 

Show all of your face. Place the camera at eye level or higher. Looking up at the camera makes you look more engaged (so they say!!)  And look into the lens, not at the screen. That’s where the people are, and that is how you make eye contact.

I have been on one or two meetings, where the other person’s camera was pointed at the ceiling, which is definitely worse than not having the camera on at all!!!

  1. Drown out noise

If you are in an environment where there are other people working near you, or there might be other distracting sounds you might consider using headsets. They could be the typical ones that come with your phone.

I’m working in an office on my own so I find the mic and the speakers on my laptop work fine, however some colleagues that run workshops and webinars prefer to use headphones or a headset with a mic.

Click this link that I found on the Zoom help resources on best cameras and headsets

  1. Sit up straight and proud

Don’t slouch, sit on a chair, rather than a couch if possible, so it feels more like a meeting setting. Don’t move as much as you might during an in-person meeting, and stay within the camera frame.

Saying that, I work from a couch, with cushions supporting my back as I work. 

I have my laptop to my side, connected to a big screen on a coffee table in front of me and my cordless keyboard on a tray on my lap. Very comfy as as it makes room for my new work colleagues – my dogs Honey and Bert either side of me!!! 

When it comes to meetings, I lean toward the edge of the couch, sit up straight, turn towards the camera which is to the side, so that the backdrop is the wall rather than all the cushions surrounding me. It keeps me focused sitting at the edge of the couch and I have my cordless keyboard and mouse on a tray, so I am able to access the screen if I need to.

  1. Look engaged

Remember it’s not a mirror, so don’t go fidgeting with your hair, or don’t click away on your computer keyboard while someone is talking. If you really have to click away or if there is any external noise like the dogs (or the kids) acting up, then mute when you are not speaking.

I was at a meeting the other day, where one of the ladies kept on tying her hair up and then down. She forgot that everyone could see her.

I think I preferred her hair down lol!!!

  1. Be on time

And that means joining the meeting a few minutes before the start time, to make sure your connection is working OK.

It’s sort of like getting the meeting room ready for the meeting. When I worked in the office, I’d always make sure the room was in order before the meeting and this is my way of making sure I create the best possible impression by being on time and that everything is working properly.

  1. Keep Meetings Short

Some people find remote meetings more draining than face to face meetings. So try and keep them to less than an hour. After the meeting walk around for a few minutes, grab a coffee or give the dog (or kid) a treat for behaving during the meeting!!

I find that I have to focus much more during remote meetings. I want to be sure I hear what everyone is saying and that I’m 100% engaged. So afterwards I feel really drained, but I find it helps keeping them to under an hour if at all possible.

  1. Go Zoom

I know there were some security issues regarding Zoom during the first week or so of the lockdown, but we find this platform really reliable and the quality of audio, visual and screen sharing functionality really good. 

It’s free to use to host meetings if they are under 40 minutes and it’s also free to use if you are just joining in on a meeting. You just need to download the app the first time you use it.

Their website is really great as well for tips on how to use the platform as well as general help with organising webinars, meetings or just working from home. Click here for a blog post from them I found really useful – tips on how to meet like a pro while working from home.

The biggest reason for using Zoom at this stage, is that it is quickly becoming the standard. People are becoming very familiar with it and if it is a meeting, a training session or a webinar make it as easy as possible for them and don’t place any barriers to entry, such as another platform they may not know.

So, that’s all from me – I hope you find these simple tips really useful, and you never know I could be meeting you soon, on Zoom or even better in person!  

Deirdre Waldron, Fuzion Communications, PR ConsultantDeirdre 

Deirdre Waldron is the founding partner of Fuzion Communications, a Marketing, PR, Graphic Design and Digital Marketing agency with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

Instagram – Reactions and new features during COVID19

April 28, 2020

Instagram Innovation

Have you noticed an uptake in live videos across social media?

With all our constant Zooming, Housepartying and Skyping, everyone is getting much more comfortable communicating through video.

Any time you log into Instagram you’re pretty much guaranteed to see at least one business account, celebrity or influencer broadcasting live to their followers. This is a great time to reach a captive audience especially as activity on the social media platforms has increased.

Instagram has now added the ability for users to watch live videos from desktop, which is a huge move for them considering how they’ve stuck to ‘mobile-only‘ features the last couple of years. The really useful aspect to viewing Instagram live videos on desktop is that now businesses will have a URL to cross-promote on their other social platforms to boost viewership of their live video.

Instagram have now added more tools as stickers on Stories to help businesses during these times, including gift cards, food orders, fundraisers and challenges. These will allow businesses that have been impacted by limited availability or shutdowns to continue to generate income at this time.

Businesses can share a new gift card, food order, and fundraiser stickers in Stories and on their profiles. When you see gift cards or food orders, you can tap to make your purchase through our partner’s site.”

The gift card function is a great option for all businesses to build on their brand loyalty and encourage engagement with their customers.

The food order stickers run through third-party delivery businesses such as Deliveroo & Uber Eats, which can be very useful for those food businesses already using those services.

Challenges are another fun sticker Instagram has introduced recently to keep up with all the engagement around real-life challenges happening between their users. Using this sticker allows you to browse the other challenges that are currently popular on the app and also to tag the friends you want to challenge.

It can be useful for businesses to use this function if they have a fundraising challenge they want to promote amongst their followers.

The social media platforms continue to innovate and stay up to date and relevant by their ability to respond to customers requirements, trends and changing circumstances – Instagram have done well here with their latest innovations.

Alma Brosnan Social Media Consultant, Fuzion CommunicationsAlma

Alma Brosnan is part of the Digital Marketing team providing Social Media Consultancy and Training services at Fuzion Communications from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Life in Lockdown – the bad and the very good?

April 27, 2020

Car Parade - Saint Patrick Day 2020

What a strange situation we all find ourselves in.

We are all used to getting up, taking the kids to school, going to work, having the kids collected from school and then head home from work, make dinner, supervise homework…this has been our way of life for many years.

We all wondered, well, I know I did, what would it be like to work from home?

My husband does it regularly and does so with ease – little did we expect for this decision to be forced upon us, with some people thriving and others not so much.

I for one, must admit that I do very much enjoy the social interaction and before the COVID19 lockdown was introduced, when we were all initially advised on March 12th to just be cautious, only travel if you need to go to work etc, I did continue to head to work, albeit in the office on my own. I did still enjoy heading out to work in the morning.

When lockdown was introduced, that is when I had to realise that I could not travel out and needed to heed the advice and stay home, that’s when it started to feel real for me. It was going to be a long few weeks but that’s what needed to be done.

I must say I thought I would have found it hard and yes, the weekends are tough as there are hours that need filling, but overall it’s been great spending unexpected time at home with my family. We have enjoyed spending every meal together, which I know might be the norm for some, but as a busy household that just didn’t always happen.

We are now going for our daily walks, chatting more in the evenings and overall spending much more quality time together. My younger daughter who is a Junior Cert student was initially angry that the exams had been cancelled, but on reflection is enjoying the time away from the books.

My older daughter, who is studying for college exams is coming around to the fact that these are now to be done online, this is unprecedented but is accepting that is the best option at this time. She likes exercising, and we always encourage it as parents and she wouldn’t have done an outdoor 5km run previously, but just this week she completed one for charity!

I know that wouldn’t have happened unless it was on the treadmill in the college gym. Speaking of treadmills, my boss mentioned at the start of all this, that now is an opportunity for us all to step off that treadmill that we are all on, each and every one of us are rushing around and this needs to stop.

I am so grateful to work with a company that are so passionate about their employees and make it their priority to check in with us each and every day, either on Google Meet or via Zoom.

In terms of interacting with each other, the communication tools that were the norm were Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and lately TikTok, which is how my older daughter communicated. My younger daughter thankfully isn’t on social media, but they sent hand written letters to their friends this past week, something they have never done and even questioned the price of a stamp – €1 for a stamp, they were shocked, so this for me was a very welcome change!

In 2018 I set up a local private group Facebook page for the village I live in and it had been slowly gathering traction but recently it has gained many followers and with all that has been happening it has been a great information platform for the community.

On St. Patrick’s Day, I put a call out at 1pm to have a car parade around the village (population of under 1000) and at the suggested meeting time of 4pm.

100 vehicles turned up, including sports cars, old cars and even tractors, whilst everyone staying in their vehicles and practising social distancing. The feedback from parents was exceptional in that the kids loved it, we drove around their estates, beeping the horns, waving to neighbours and that sense of community spirit was really special and something we will always remember.

Another initiative the Facebook page was really useful for was when I asked for local volunteers amid this pandemic. There are elderly and vulnerable people living in our village and I was aware that they may need help and again I was inundated with volunteers who are all currently on standby, should they be needed.

Last week I asked for families if they were interested in book swapping as some parents were saying that their kids were bored at home as every book in every room had been read over and over and once again, so many came out and dropped off books in the suggested location, all sanitized and ready for delighted kids to collect. Just one online platform facilitating us to help in our local community.

So what I would like to finish with is, yes, this is not something we all thought would happen, there are family members we miss dearly, but in the meantime let’s all embrace it, this time will pass. It’s only a “pause” and we will not get this down time again.

Stay home and stay safe.

Olivia 

Olivia Trought is the Office Manager with Fuzion Communications, a full service agency providing Marketing, PR, Graphic Design and Digital Marketing services from offices in Dublin and Cork.

Resilience in the face of adversity

April 7, 2020

Push Up Challenge, Mercy Hospital Foundation

Undoubtedly, the last few weeks have been the strangest I have ever experienced and it almost feels like a blur thinking back to when it all started.

Little did I know when I first heard about Coronavirus how the situation would escalate so quickly into a global pandemic.

It has been tough to watch so I can’t imagine how it must feel for the many businesses that have had to close their doors. It’s a stressful time in general for people, especially those with the additional worry of their business. Almost overnight, their sales have reduced significantly or for many, they have had to shut up shop completely, not knowing when they will reopen.

It’s very tough for charities as well, with many needing more funds now than they ever did to cope with the pandemic, yet their fundraising events and bucket collections which they rely so heavily on, can’t go ahead at the moment.

Amongst this adversity, a light has been shone on the positivity and strength from the people and businesses of Ireland which must be commended.

Whether it has been from looking out for neighbours, friends and colleagues to supporting charity initiatives and local businesses, there is so much good will.

Businesses that have had to close their doors are still willing to donate goods and services to those who need them most, especially for charity and to support our frontline workers.

There are so many great charity initiatives taking place right now that were established by individuals who just want to help. An example is The Push-Up Challenge, created by Emmy Coffey Nguyen to raise vital funds for the Mercy University Hospital and Mater Foundation during this difficult time.

As we wade through this difficult period, it’s important we keep positive, supporting one another as we get closer each day to better times.

Click here for a link to the ‘Push Up Challenge’

Saidhbh Sweeney - Fuzion CommunicationsSaidhbh

Saidhbh Sweeney is a PR Account Manager with Fuzion Communications: PR, Marketing, Graphic Design and Digital Marketing from offices in Dublin and Cork Design


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