Consistency is key

June 26, 2017 by

consistency - Aristotle

Consistent: acting or done in the same way over time, especially so as to be fair or accurate.

Consistency is one of my favourite words in the English language. I live by it. Do not be fooled, consistent does not mean boring, it means recognition.

Imagine every time someone asked you your name, you give them a different name.

Eventually if you are in a group everybody will be a bit confused. More so if someone calls you on the street – how do you remember every name you gave to people? People know your name because it never changes. The conversation changes, how you look changes but your name remains consistent.

This word alone is my bible in graphic design – Consistency.

All elements for your brand need to marry. They need to tell the same story, send the same message and the public need to know it is you. Every element of your brand from your logo to signage to the message you send needs to be consistent.

Be different, be you but be consistent about it!

Paul Wade

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

 

 

Don’t fear the darkside!

June 20, 2017 by

Fear of the darkside

As 2017 dawned, I found myself jobless.

This was ironic, considering I managed to hold onto a full time job throughout the recession, only to be made redundant as our economy turned the corner.

Instead of accepting one of the cool, interesting, and maybe most salient at the time, PAID opportunities that I was presented with in the immediate aftermath of my redundancy, I decided on the far riskier move, and take a career break.

After an enjoyable, rewarding but ultimately all-consuming role as Southern Correspondent with UTV Ireland, I was exhausted. I needed time to take stock, and re-charge before I set off on my next adventure.

Surprisingly, to myself more than anyone else, I absolutely loved my time-out.

I revelled in my free time, I read great books that had nothing to do with my profession. I allowed my mind to wander as I filled the black and white pages of my colouring book with doodles. I had some great conversations with great people including friends I long neglected as I chased story after story.

By April, I came around to the idea of hopping back on the 9-5 train…..Journalism no longer had the same draw. So I decided to do a stocktake of the skills I had accumulated, and evaluate how many of these were transferrable.

If you stick to one career path for too long, you can easily assume that your skillset isn’t particularly unique……or sought after. Taking a step out of the rat-race helped me understand that a career in journalism had allowed me to build a valuable list of transferable skills, not to mention an enviable contacts book.

When an opportunity to become part of the team at Fuzion Communications presented itself, thanks to my time-out, I felt ready and able to accept. I could see how I could, with my journalistic perspective, fit into and learn from a very talented and hard-working team.

It’s still early days, but I’m loving the role, a role that I wouldn’t have the skills for if I hadn’t spent so many years chasing stories!

My advice, for what it’s worth, if a career change or redundancy (or a desperate need for a change) looms on your horizon, don’t fear it.

Evaluate your talents and skills, and embrace your next adventure.

Alison Nulty, Fuzion CommunicationsAlison Nulty

Alison Nulty is a Senior Account Manager with Fuzion Communications, a full service agency with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Finding your creativity

June 6, 2017 by

Recently my colleague Paul Wade wrote on our blog about how he deals with creative block. I’d like to share some of what I do to help push my creativity further.

Jonathan Leahy Maharaj

Firstly, in the words of Paul Smith, design is everywhere, and he’s right. It’s just a case of looking for it.

When I teach design to students in CIT, one of the first things I ask my students to do is to start looking at things with fresh eyes, to question what they have taken for granted, and to revisit and review things. For some it’s a difficult exercise, because you are asking people to essentially think in a way that they have never done before (right brain/left brain tasks).

Originally to help myself remember these things, I started carrying a small notebook around with me, and as I saw or found things that interested me I would document them, creating a reference library for myself that I could use.

Much of these (and I have many, some going back 25 years since I started college) are full of small scribbles, found objects and coded illustrations that mean nothing to anyone other than myself, but they give me ideas and help to jumpstart my thought process. Often the thought of a blank page can be the hardest start to a project, so these small seeds can frequently give me the start of something that turns into something else.

Jonathan Leahy Maharaj

The second thing that I would suggest that everyone would do, is to visit their local art gallery.

In a world of non-stop connectivity and “always-on”, taking a few minutes out of your week to allow you to clear your head is a generous gift to yourself, and one that can often push me into looking at things with a fresh perspective.

We are very fortunate to have a number of galleries in Cork, including the award-winning Glucksman on the grounds of UCC, and the Crawford Art Gallery towards the Opera House, both of which have a wonderful rotation of exhibitions, and in the case of the Crawford, a truly beautiful permanent collection.

Recently I was lucky enough to attend a lunchtime lecture by Dr. Michael Waldron in the Crawford where some of the lesser known secrets of some of the works were shared, opening up a completely new insight into these works, and how I now perceive them.

Frequently in graphic design, I like to challenge my clients, that while everything should have a meaning or at the very least, a rationale behind the design, that it’s not entirely necessary that every piece of design should bear its full credentials in a literal sense – ultimately, my thinking is that you don’t have to give everything away immediately, that people appreciate working for detail a little in design.

The other thing that I keep noticing, is that often in galleries, the art is as much the building as its contents.

JLM

Finally, I use photography – or, to be more honest, I use image making as possibly the most powerful avenue for creativity and to force myself to look at things differently.

The reason that I call it “image making” rather than photography is that I see the process of taking the photograph to be the first part in creating any image. Technically, I am a terrible photographer, I have little or no regard to F-stops or ISO numbers, and my tripod is wobbly no matter what I do with it. But I take the shots and process them, frequently (and much to the annoyance to “pure” photographers) through Photoshop and I achieve the results that I want.

More and more I find that the outlet for this creativity is Instagram.

I have a number of APPs on my phone that when used in combination with Instagram. allow me to create images that otherwise, may or may not exist when published online.

Instagram provides me a platform that allows me to share these images with other people, and with the tactical use of hashtags I can build a somewhat curated gallery, available to like-minded people.

My true purpose is that I can create a set of images that have come about through looking at a situation, and environment, a person or a puddle, and allow me to redefine this scene into something that I want it to be. In some cases this means that the neon strip of a petrol station canopy can become an abstract, surreal landscape, in others, it means that I can create a hero out of a basketball hoop, or a pushback tug in an airport..

By taking a new view of an object, you can create a world of questions, many which have no right or wrong answers.

What I find incredible about Instagram, is that once you ignore all of the gym bunnies, the endless selfies and dinner images, there is a community there who are appreciative, supportive and creative.

Over the past year, I have been fortunate to meet quite a few of this collective, and have found them utterly inspiring in how they see things. I have stood next to people, taken the same image on practically the same device, and created utterly different images.

I have learned how to approach subjects that I would have avoided (street photography still scares the hell out of me!), and I have participated in events, from 10 people wandering around UCC pointing phones at things, to the incredible 24 Hour Project where nearly 4000 people in 840 cities, across 112 countries posted an image an hour over a 24 hour period last April.

Have a look for #24hourproject and #24hourprojectCork on Instagram to see some of my work as well as that of others.

Being creative day in and day out is a demanding challenge (like many jobs!), but with a little bit of focus there are ways that you can allow your mind to wander in a constructive way, and hopefully help to boost the inspiration that really is everywhere!

Jonathan Leahy Maharaj - FuzionJonathan

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

 

Exciting Opportunities in Dublin – Bring your Tent!

June 1, 2017 by

Camping in Dublin

Pitch the tent lads, we’re going to work in Dublin!

At the rate the housing trend is going in Ireland, more specifically Dublin, this may not be too far from the truth in the near future.

A recent projection from Savills Ireland, has suggested there may be office space for an additional 100,000 workers in Dublin by 2021 and with the projection of new housing at barely one-third of that demand, the question is where are these extra people going to live and how much will it cost?

Rent as of May 2017, has now surpassed Celtic Tiger levels with the average cost now standing at €1784 per month which is a stretch for anybody ‘living’ on the average Dublin wage of €36,519 per annum.

People in the know are calling for increased residential building heights and densities to accommodate people in the city centre to alleviate the strain and urban sprawl that is spreading far and wide. Wexford and Westmeath are now nearly recognised as commuter suburbs of Dublin at this stage.

As I write this, I can see cranes dominating the skyline around the capital and as it was pointed out to me, these are predominantly for commercial developments. These include the recently acquired Capital Dock building by global banking giant JPMorgan Chase for €125m, which is large enough for 1,000 staff not to mention the proposed tallest building in Dublin envisaged by Johnny Ronan.

If this is one of the first signs of Brexit, it doesn’t make for pleasant thoughts for the future of Dublin’s indigenous workforce.

Recently as I was waiting on a friend in the Ferryman on Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, I got chatting to a young American guy who voluntarily transferred from Boston to Dublin by his tech company in search of new experiences.

During the conversation, I asked how he found living in Dublin rent wise and the general cost of living. I was told that he found it expensive but didn’t really know the rent costs because as long as he has been here (4 months) his company has been paying and would be for the foreseeable future.

If that trend continues and the tech companies who dominate ‘Silicon Docks’ in Dublin can just pay the inflated prices for rent in Dublin to the REIT’s (Real Estate Investment Trusts), tents could soon be the only next option!

Patrick Jones - Fuzion CommunicationsPatrick

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

Take AIM at your audience and make them like you

May 24, 2017 by

LikeableToday I am going to talk about likeability.

It’s something you should strive for when you’re presenting in a business setting. Practically every business communication event involves selling something. If not directly a product or service, then at the very least, a point of view.

You are likely hoping to persuade your audience of something or trying to motivate them to do something, aren’t you? Therefore, finding a way to demonstrate that you care about the people with you in the room when you present is precisely the way to encourage them to care for you and your position.

Last week, when I emceed the Irish Centre for Business Excellence conference, keynote speaker, psychologist, and author, Owen Fitzpatrick, reinforced this idea as he explained how influence is best achieved when you spend time asking questions of and taking an interest in the other person first.

In short, we teach people how we want to be treated.

For many, this “be likeable” notion might not come naturally. Instead, we focus on our proof points and logic to carry us through. Sorry, folks, because I do want you to like me but, blech – that is often super boring.

But knowing some need a structure to dial up on “likeable”, I teach my clients to apply a logic-based methodology.

Derived from communications lecturer JD Schramm of Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, this approach helps you get systematic in your presentation preparation – especially if you’re not naturally inclined to consider others.

Gina London - Fuzion Communications

The methodology is boiled down to three simple letters: AIM.

Audience. Intent. Message. In that order.

1 Audience

Take a moment to consider who is in your audience.

Are they new-hires or veterans? Senior management or the executive board? Women or men? Both? Other? Do they prefer Elvis or the Beatles? PCs or Macs? Coffee or Tea? For my Irish audience, Barry’s or Lyons?

When CNN first promoted me to anchor, they sent me to an anchor-training school in Dallas, Texas.

I didn’t realise there was such a place. There is. One thing the trainer told me back then in Texas particularly stuck with me.

He said that no matter how dry or dense a story may seem, someone out there watching will be emotionally affected by it.

Every story has a ‘hope, dream or fear’ attached to it,” he said. It’s important to try to see the pictures inside their heads.

I sometimes ask clients to write their presentation agenda.

Next, write a second agenda from the audience’s point of view. Then I have them throw out that first agenda and begin again from the second one.

This is what I mean by truly considering the others’ points of view.

2 Intent

Your intent is never simply to inform.

If you’re just doing that, then you might as well simply put your information in an email and hit the send button. You must be trying to motivate or inspire your audience to some sort of action.

Define your goal very clearly. Too often I see this one overlooked.

The goal is too broad and ill-defined. What is it exactly that you want your audience to do after you’re finished speaking? Even if it’s just to agree to another meeting. That’s okay. Be very specific.

3 Message

Only after you have dealt with points one and two should you move on to craft your message. Like intent, this must be clear too. Write it down. One sentence!

Here’s the definition I learned from organising campaigns:

A message is “Brief, Memorable, Repeatable, Emotional and Data-backed“.

But it’s not only the data. While supportive, taken stand-alone, data dumps, as I already mentioned, are often dry and boring.

Your message is your ‘call to action‘ – your spoken declaration of your written intent, your motivation!

State it clearly and state it often. Don’t assume your audience is just “getting it“.

If you know your AIM, before you start writing, you will be better at framing and outlining your talk.

A client wrote to me just this week proclaiming that he now realises “this isn’t going to be an easy fix. It will take serious effort“.

He’s right!

Here’s a prime example from one of the readers of my column:

The 82-year-old writer shared that he learned how “to think and speak more clearly” through communications training.

He applies the training all the time, including just last Saturday when he said a few words at his 80-year-old sister’s birthday party in London. “Communications training has become a way of life.“, he wrote.

To my client and you lovely people reading today: Exactly.

Applying AIM and becoming deliberately more likeable to your audience will take time. But I promise, it is worth it.

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

Gina London: Face Your Fear! My Top 3 Tips for Public Speaking

May 22, 2017 by

If the thought of public speaking fills you with dread – like you’re about to walk a tight wire high above – without a net – please read on for my top tips that appeared in my column this week in the Sunday Independent, “The Communicator.” 

Circus Tightrope Walker on a Unicycle

If I go on The Late Late Show and ask the audience to “raise your hand if you’d like to stand in front of everyone else and give a presentation”, how many hands do you think would shoot up?

If statistics are any indicator, most of you would literally rather die than get up and speak in public.

Fear of public speaking, as you may already know, is often listed as people’s number one fear. It out paces the fear of death or the fear of flying.

This brings me to a letter I received this week from a reader. He writes:

I love your column and three words that would describe me would be ‘curious’ and ‘confident’ in one-to-one conversations, but a very ‘nervous’ person when it comes to standing and speaking before an audience.

As an owner of a small business, I have occasions to stand and speak about my business. But, to be honest with you, I would rather visit the dentist than give a speech.

I know how important it is to the growth of my business but the fear I have of public speaking is just too great. I get very red, my hands shake and I have the dry mouth of a desert.

Please, please how do I get over this fear?”

If you’re like some fad-dieters who keep looking for a quick trick to shed pounds (or kilos or stones or whatever), I have to point out there is no magic pill to do that or to instantly shake your stage fright nerves.

But, here are three things that should help:

1 Think positively

In an old episode of The Brady Bunch (please tell me you know this show!) Mike Brady tells daughter Jan, who is petrified of giving a speech, to imagine her audience wearing only underwear.

I won’t go that far, although you’re welcome to try it for a laugh. But I will tell you that in my experience, every audience — no matter how they are attired — wants you to succeed.

That’s a really positive place from which to start. They’re looking to find meaning in why they are there. They want to connect with you. Bear that in mind. Be self-affirming.

You step up on stage at 100pc.

2 Take time to write it right

Don’t wait until the day before you have to speak to write your speech – Give yourself proper time to prepare.

When you craft your speech, make sure to consider and address your audience’s interests and not simply your own. What’s in it for them?

If you operate on a “brain-dump approach”, that’s fine for your first draft, but revisit it the next day to refine and edit. Get early, honest feedback on your script from a colleague.

Remember, too, that the way you write may not be the way you speak.

Are you writing words you’re comfortable with? If the words aren’t conversational to you, they won’t sound conversational to your audience.

If you want to be comfortable with your public speaking delivery, you must first be comfortable with your written material.

3 Practice out loud and on camera

That silly joke, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” comes to mind. Answer: “Practice. Practice. Practice.

This is where you really can combat potential butterflies. You have to practice the same way you expect to deliver.

32298502311_30dfe8bff8_o

For instance, if you’re going to present standing up, then stand up when you practice.

Don’t forget details like voice quality, energy and expression.

Many people are uncomfortable hearing the sound of their voice when it’s projected, so they hold back when they practice. That’s a mistake. You should practice as performance-day-like as you possibly can.

Smile. Gesture. Get into it. Try to get off-script. You’ll connect better with your audience and that’s the whole point.

I feel like an actor,” one client told me recently. That’s okay at first. Over time, it will feel natural.

Bonus tip: Get help

Years ago, at my first job as a journalist with the Orlando Sentinel, I joined a “Toastmasters” group. With clubs all over the world, Toastmasters members deliver a wide-variety of speeches, receiving structure and encouragement along the way.

Joining wasn’t a job requirement, but I thought, “Hey, if I’m developing my skills as a written story-teller, it would be a good idea to practice telling stories aloud too.”

It was a great experience and one that helped me during my transition to on-camera reporting at CNN. I’ve since enjoyed going back as a guest speaker at Toastmasters clubs including in Lagos, Nigeria, and at the West Cork Toastmasters, one of top performing clubs here in Ireland.

With the right coaching, practice and time, public speaking comfort is a gift available to us all. Or, as you may have heard once or twice on The Late Late Show,There’s one for everyone in the audience.

So, go on. When I ask, raise your hand.

Whether through Toastmasters or another training programme, I’d love to hear from readers who are learning to overcome their fears of public speaking. What is working? What are you still struggling with? Email me at sundaybusiness@independent.ie

Gina London

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

So you can teach an old dog new tricks after all!

May 22, 2017 by

Michael O'Leary - Ryamair

I’m still reeling from the shock of the great customer service I just experienced from Ryanair!

I found that there was a simple error on my flight booking for our summer holidays. Without much hope, I got onto the Ryanair “live chat” and after a relatively short wait, someone came on and solved my problem without an issue and – wait for it – are you sitting down? – without any additional charge – even though I had my credit card in my hand!

The Ryanair experience has improved so much that even Greg, my other half, isn’t complaining (well, not as much as usual) that we are using the airline to get us to Italy this year – in previous years he prefered to take an Aer Lingus flight to Paris and then take the train to Milan (beautiful journey by the way!).

So Michael, I applaud you, you turned the big ship (or plane) and set Ryanair on a new course towards good service, putting the customer first and you gotta be reaping the rewards…..

I think this is a big lesson for all of us.

Just because we do something one way, a way that might have built the success of the company, it doesn’t mean we have to stay doing the same thing, just because it’s the way we always did it.

It’s refreshing for everyone to change things up, it’s good to really listen to your customers and even more important, your potential customers and even if it goes against your original core values (or some might argue, lack of them in Ryanair’s case), consider adapting to suit your market in this very changing world.

When you are ready to make that change – the Fuzion team can be there with you every step of the way to help you 😉

Deirdre 

Deirdre Waldron - Network Ireland PresidentDeirdre Waldron is the founding partner of Fuzion

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

 

Advertisements that pull at your heartstrings – are they only for Christmas?

May 18, 2017 by

McDonald's

This morning, like most other mornings people are continuing to find things to give out about.

I’m very much about voicing your opinion when necessary, but sometimes I feel it can all be a tad dramatic! This time one of the world’s favourite fast food joints, McDonald’s was under attack for their newest advertisement, which is now tactlessly titled the “McDonald’s Dead Dad Advert”, making it easier to find online for those interested.

What is the advert about?

The advert shows a boy who was clearly very young when his dad passed away and is intrigued to know more about him – what he was like, what sports he played etc.

His questions are his way of finding out how similar they might have been.

However, his mother depicts a person that he is nearly nothing alike. The boy seems disappointed but not upset at his findings but then just as he sits to enjoy his Fillet ’O’ Fish meal his mum tells him that what he has ordered was his dad’s favourite too and that he always got the tartare sauce on his chin.

The camera then cuts to the boy with tartare sauce on his chin, his mum smiling and looking out the window fondly remembering that moment she shared with her husband.

Watch advert here:

The commotion:

I’m not going to go into much detail on what people are saying about the advert, it’s pretty 50/50 but you can read up on this online for yourself. However, there were enough complaints for the advert to be banned.

According to The Journal.ieMcDonald’s said “t had not meant to upset anyone, but “wanted to highlight the role McDonald’s has played in our customers’ everyday lives — both in good and difficult times.”

McDonald’s said today it was withdrawing the ad “completely and permanently” and would “review our creative process to ensure this situation never occurs again.”

You can read the full article by clicking here:

My view:

So this brings me to my point, would this be more acceptable at Christmas time?

Let’s not forget EDEKA the German supermarket Christmas advert which shows a grandfather faking his own death which was also controversial but in a weird way somewhat humorous OR Lidl’s Christmas advert that showed a family celebrating the special time of the year but missing their Grandmother at the table.

You can view these videos by clicking on the links below:

The German EDEKA advert and the Lidl advert.

Both adverts show bereavement in a different way as does the McDonalds advertisement but they are all asking us to remember our loved ones that can’t be here with us anymore.

I personally think that the complaints are a complete overreaction. It was a well thought out advertisement showing a very personal side to what some families go through every day. It was upbeat, not at all morbid and I did not get the impressions that they were trying to say that McDonald’s fixes everything. I felt that they were showing how the brand is very much a part of nearly every family.

The boy’s newly discovered likeness to his father is a fond memory that his mother has, and is now something they can both share together – this connection could make their relationship as mother and son stronger.

The trip to McDonald’s could be one of many and a way for them to hang onto a shared memory – what is so bad about that?!

Not to get all morbid, but death becomes a part of everyone’s life at some stage and while right now you don’t need to experience it directly, if an advertisement can shine a light on the part of death that shows a family connection, nostalgia and shared memories then I’m all for it.

Of course, the ironic thing about it all is that McDonald’s as a brand is still grabbing the media and public’s attention.

So whether you like the ad or not they’ve created awareness for their brand while promoting a meal that probably isn’t on their most ordered list! It might not be how they wanted to receive this attention but it is still publicity at the end of the day!

Do you think McDonald’s were right to shut down their advert?

Arlene

Arlene Foy is an Account Manager with Fuzion Communications in our Dublin office. Fuzion provide Marketing, PR, Graphic Design and Social Media Management services from our office in Dublin and Cork.

Never, ever write a cheque to make yourself look bad!

May 16, 2017 by

James Bond Museum

I was doing a review of the marketing activities with a new home improvement client a few years back.

In the previous year, they had spent €15,000 on Google Adwords in the UK bringing the right search traffic to the website of their UK operation.

They weren’t convinced about how successful this investment was and they asked me to review the campaign.

The lack of success was simple to figure out because the €15,000 was being used to drive traffic to their website, which was outdated and made them look like an old fashioned, backwards operation. You could easily understand how this traffic was not converting because, like me, I am fairly sure that the people who looked at the website were not inclined to do business.

Not only were they wasting money but they were damaging their brand – an important and very simple SEO tip is to make sure you have a website that makes people want to do business with you!

My simple recommendation to them was to stop the campaign immediately, upgrade the website and then, and only then, start up the Google campaign again.

I was told that there was no budget for a new website and instead they decided to increase their Google Adwords budget in the hope that bringing, even more traffic would somehow improve the results they were getting from the previous campaign.

Whether it is..

– Advertising when your store is a mess
– Putting a cheap sign over your premises
– Paying for an advert and not designing it properly
– Getting cheap business cards
– Bringing traffic to an outdated website

..the message is always the same.

Never, ever, write a cheque to make yourself look bad.

Greg Canty 

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

Don’t Think Outside the Box

May 14, 2017 by

Think outside the box

It’s a term we hear all the time in business, and especially in the creative industry –  ‘”Think outside the box”’.

I see it in briefs, job descriptions and I hear it said in meetings.

I hate it!

The term has become meaningless, if everyone thinks outside the box then all you do is create a larger box!

The fact is there is no avoiding the box. Everything we do in business and in life has boundaries. There are laws on the street, marketing campaigns have a budget and designing a billboard always has size constraints.

The best way forward is to be creative within the box – Use the boundaries, work within the limitations and show people that you are still, more than capable of being different and creative.

I love the box!

Paul Wade

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


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