Posts Tagged ‘Aoibhinn Twomey’

Avoiding the Snowball Effect

February 11, 2021

The beauty of the flurry of snowflakes falling outside my office/spare bedroom window is magical. Yet experience, and probably age, inspire a level of concern and consideration as to the knock effects a heavy and prolonged snowfall can have.

This may be the start of the snow that we’ve been warned was coming over the past week. We’ve been braced for ‘Beast from the East 2.0’ conjuring memories of the Siberian snowstorm that shut much of the country in 2018.

Little did we know that being restricted in movement would be so passé by 2021, having spent the last 12 months in some level of lockdown and what seems like a constant degree of crisis management and “pivoting” as a result of a global pandemic and Brexit, among other things.

As head of Communications back then for Dairygold, the ‘Beast from the East‘ posed immense risks and consequences to the logistics and operations of the business.

How to reach farms to collect milk when the rural roads were impassable, what of the milk that couldn’t be collected? How to support suppliers when they needed their Co-Operative most? Not to mention, the day-to-day operations of the international business, the welfare of hundreds of staff, its processing and manufacturing sites, retail stores etc.

Business continuity kicked into action early, with planning for such scenarios already in place to as much of an extent as possible. I was proud to have been part of the business continuity task force regularly updating management, assessing risks and addressing the complex requirements of all stakeholders. Again, little did we know that orchestrating remotely with efficiency and in collaboration would become a modus operandi for so many of us two years later.

Communications, both internal and external, is critical to linking the elements together. I’m grateful to Dairygold’s management and in particular its CEO Jim Woulfe who astutely valued and recognised the role communications plays in continuity planning and situation management. They led by example on the value of communication across the business.

Underestimating the importance of communications in continuity planning and situation management is one of the biggest risks to a business that can have serious and long-term consequences to safety, operations, reputation, staff morale, you name it.

If you’re a corporate working with an agency or have communications support internally, it’s vital that you see them as your partner. If you don’t have day-to-day support, it’s important to recognise when you may need it and where to go if/when you need Crisis Communication, Litigation Support Services.

We may not always know, or need to know, the nitty gritty but it’s crucial to know enough to devise a strategy, trouble-shoot effectively and be as proactive as possible. From our perspective, business continuity planning, Crisis PR and situation management is a heady mix of proactive and reactive communications. Above all, for it to work, clear and effective channels of communication must be open.

At times we remind and reassure clients that we’ve got their back.

We’re there 24/7 to support, prevent and mitigate adverse outcomes for our clients but we can’t support if we’re in the dark. A quick call or line to your communications partner helps to identify and tease out the risks and the requirements, if there are any.

It gets the cogs turning and can be one of the most important calls that’s made. Communication is not the enemy, it’s the solution. If you have time on your side, media training is also a hugely worthwhile exercise for preparedness which you’ll hope you never need.

Whether it’s for reasons of a lack of time, clarity, silo mentality or containment, communications support can fall down the priority list and it can snowball from there...

Aoibhinn

Aoibhinn Twomey, former journalist, is an Account Director with Fuzion Communications and is part of the Crisis Communications team, offering Crisis Consultancy services from offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland 

Brexit – Keep calm and plan

May 8, 2017

Prepare for Brexit - Enterprise Ireland

The uncertainty, implications, and fallout from Brexit was the topic for debate at an Enterprise Ireland event that I went along to this week.

As a country so heavily dependent on exporting to the UK, Brexit represents the most significant economic challenge facing Ireland and one which we are advised to plan for without really knowing what the fallout will be.

While we can only speculate, Enterprise Ireland have rolled-out a dedicated roadshow, specific grant and an online tool to encourage businesses to plan and prepare so that anything other than a hard Brexit is somewhat of a bonus, dare I say it.

The UK will continue to be a key market for businesses in Ireland and the advice for companies in preparation for Brexit is to be as lean and innovative as possible.

Like all challenges, Brexit presents an opportunity for businesses to re-evaluate their markets, products, risks and operations to hone their business contingency plans to build resilience, which is never a bad thing, is it?

A well-thought-out business plan will be crucial for responding to change which is why an investment of time and resources will be vital.

Enterprise Ireland has launched a really clever Brexit SME Scorecard – a planning tool for Irish exporters to the UK designed to assess business readiness for Brexit as well as a Be Prepared Grant to help to financially support and encourage businesses to research, prepare and focus on the elements of their business which they can influence, whatever the outcome of Brexit.

There is no doubt that we’re facing a time of change and uncertainty but one thing is for sure – trade, as one of the oldest professions in the world, will still continue between people and countries.

How we prepare for change will make all the difference.

Aoibhinn Twomey - Fuzion PRAoibhinn

Aoibhinn Twomey is a Senior Account Director with Fuzion Communications – PR, Marketing and Graphic Design  who have offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

PR is not a “one size fits all”

March 27, 2017

The perception of the PR industry is one we often have to fight against and to defend. Some people may take a cynical view that PR is an indulgent commodity, a drain on a marketing budget and that those working in the industry are experts on ‘spin‘ rather than communication.

It’s hard not to feel offended and disheartened when you look at it from the inside out, knowing the broad range of work and tasks our job entails.

For instance one client of mine depends on me for devising their strategy in line with their organisation’s objectives over the coming two years. I’ve carried out workshops with top level staff across divisions with the aim of helping them to refine their messaging, target audiences and objectives. I also act as their press office function which, for a public sector Statutory organisation, is a role of great responsibility that requires efficiency, accuracy and professionalism.

Another client of mine is a global company which requires profile building to raise its profile and understanding among the Irish market.I do this through liaising with their stakeholders, identifying interesting case study stories to pitch to the media, through office launch events and openings, media engagement and drafting and issuing press releases.

I work closely with the company’s global corporate communications team, which can significantly increase the level of liaison that is required but it is absolutely necessary to provide them with assurance, confidence and understanding of how we work and achieve results in Ireland. Building this relationship has built trust which is paramount.

We may have another project that is purely for internal communications to foster and enhance engagement with staff through events, workshops, communications, videos etc.

As an agency the varied and broad nature of our work and client base is significant. One size does not fit all – the only common ground our clients and work has, is enhancing and sometimes protecting their reputation which can be achieved through many diverse PR activities.

Aoibhinn Twomey - Fuzion PRAoibhinn

Aoibhinn Twomey is a Senior Account Director with Fuzion Communications – PR, Marketing and Graphic Design  who have offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

(Image taken from the very funny 2005 movie, “Thank You For Smoking” which presents a great example of spin)

Award season is not just for Tinsel Town 

January 27, 2017
The 2017 Oscars

As individuals, professionals and as companies we often use this time of year to evaluate and set out our plans and ambitions for the year ahead.

For instance in Fuzion, we kicked off our first week back to work after the Christmas with our individual and departmental reviews and planning which I must admit was initially a bit like pulling teeth until we actually got stuck into thinking about the year gone, what we did well, could have done better and how we can excel this year.
Ambition and drive means we naturally want to improve and to celebrate and build upon what we do well.

We also want to achieve big and better things for our clients which is why I’ve spent time this week researching award opportunities and working on award submissions not only for my clients but for our own company.

Across industries there are a great deal of award opportunities to grab hold of and it would be remiss not to be aware or put one’s name into the running for the credit, news, awareness building and achievement that awards have to offer.

Many may think that award submissions require a great deal of an investment of time with the chance of no return but I don’t agree.

Below are a few reasons that might change your mind:

  • Being shortlisted or winning an award can boost your brand awareness through pre and post publicity.
  • Researching and working on a submission naturally forces you to assess, evaluate, refine and promote your wins. It also has the benefit of helping you to identify key areas that you’d like to focus on and grow for the year ahead.
  • Credibility – we at Fuzion know how to roll-out a successful lobbying campaign for clients but our PRII award for lobbying on behalf of Down Syndrome Ireland provided invaluable third party endorsement not only for us but for the charity that fought with grit and determination for an overturning of a controversial Government decision.
  • Reputation building – awards can give you the edge over your competitors. Would you rather work with an award-winning company or not?

Ruth Negga, Oscar Nominee

If you listen to the media coverage when anyone in Ireland gets nominated for an Oscar you can see the benefit to them of the publicity that they enjoy as a result.

This year Ruth Negga,  received a nomination for Best Actress for her role in “Loving.”  “The Lobster” – co-produced by Irish production company Element Pictures – scored a nomination for Best Original Screenplay and Consolata Boyle was nominated for Best Costume for her work on “Florence Foster Jenkins.”

Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today. It’s worth spending some time to research what awards and opportunities there are now and over the year and mark them in your diary.

They say you only regret a chance you didn’t take.

Aoibhinn

Aoibhinn Twomey - Fuzion PRAoibhinn Twomey is a Senior Account Director with Fuzion Communications – PR, Marketing and Graphic Design  who have offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

The Importance of Caring

December 23, 2016

Kindness - artwork by Genesis

Today has been one of those days that sums up our work as a team and with our clients. It epitomises our job and the value and importance of relationships.

A beautifully parceled box of sweets and reindeer biscuits welcomed us all when we got to the office this morning. The sweets were made with such craft, care and attention by our very talented, and until-now closet baker, Alma Brosnan who joined us earlier this year as a social media intern. They were delicious and really such a lovely Christmas gift that again proved what a lovely bunch of people I’m grateful to call not only colleagues but friends.

This week, we’ve been working with a client to help them manage a very difficult and stressful situation. We’ve listened with empathy while providing decisive advice and efficient actions to help them navigate the stormy seas they find themselves currently in. We’ve been at the other end of the phone at dawn and during the night listening to their updates, fears and concerns, providing assurance and our professional support.

Today brought somewhat of a calm and a lovely phone call from the client to say “thank you” for being there for them. It wasn’t expected or necessary but the sentiment and thought was truly touching especially given how busy and exhausted emotionally and I’m sure physically they are.

A “thank you” costs nothing but it can mean a great deal, which is why we’ve tried to meet as many clients and journalists as we could over the last few weeks to thank them for their support.

Just meeting for lunch or calling them up to wish them a Happy Christmas and to chat about their plans for Christmas with their families is a little way to build and maintain relationships.

The value of connecting with people and caring about them on a personal level can never be underestimated. I believe it makes us better people and helps us to grow personally and professionally.

“If you find it in your heart to care for somebody else, you will have succeeded.” – Maya Angelou

Happy Christmas!

(Beautiful artwork by Genesis)

Aoibhinn

Aoibhinn Twomey - Fuzion PRAoibhinn Twomey is a Senior Account Director with Fuzion PR, Marketing and Graphic Design  who have offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Why is there so much industrial unrest?

November 7, 2016

Teachers Strike in Ireland

Strikes, conflicts, confusion and chaos – they’ve become the norm in Ireland over the last 12 months.

Although, the economy is continuing to strengthen and our unemployment rate continues to fall, we as a country are in the midst of one of the most significant periods of turmoil and industrial action in recent history.

As I write the first Garda strike in the history of the state has been narrowly averted – that inferno’s been quelled, now back to the next blaze that rages with the ASTI who plan to return to the picket line in the coming days.

Gardaí, teachers, bus drivers, postal services, nurses, midwives, train drivers – those who we as a society depend most on are those who are pushing, or have been pushed so far as to feel they’ve no other choice but to down tools.

How did we get to this point? Could it have been avoided? 

Are any lessons being learned?

It’s too simplistic to define the industrial actions simply as pay disputes. There are a myriad of reasons why the disputes get that far – workers feeling disenfranchised, unequal, undervalued, employers remaining firm yet feeling threatened.

Feelings, attitudes, perceptions and actions are all based on communication, or a lack of. It underpins everything.

Internal communication and engagement is essential and the most effective way to prevent, identify and resolve discontent in the workplace. It makes a workforce feel engaged and valued.

Could the industrial actions have been avoided with more and better communication?

Just recently I wrapped up on a project with a major international organisation that began as one, altogether different and modest brief, but developed month-on-month to be something bigger and better with far greater and long-lasting benefits and effects for both the company and its staff.

Working with an external communications agency brought value to the corporation in terms of identifying and strengthening weaknesses with fresh and innovative plans and activations.

It was a really interesting project to work on particularly as it often required at short notice a change of plan and time lines in the context of the company’s matrix organisational structure.

Adaptability, reporting and communication was hugely important, not only on our behalf but within the organisation of what we were hoping to achieve, why and how we were going to do it.

The investment of time and resources on this communication was invaluable and while the project has drawn to an end, it’s legacy remains in the innovative approaches taken to internal communication and the platforms available for two-way communication, which will continue to be utilised by the organisation going forward.

Communication is not all about talking – listening can be all the more powerful and effective.

Aoibhinn Twomey - Fuzion PRAoibhinn Twomey

Aoibhinn Twomey is a Senior Account Director with Fuzion PR, Marketing and Graphic Design  who have offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

The art and power of a good story

May 30, 2016
Bernice Moran pictured at the Network Cork business awards with President Joan Walsh and Karen Fleming

We were at the Network Cork awards which was attended by women of all ages who work across all sectors from healthcare to hospitality, legal to media.

It can prove a bit of challenge to design an event, particularly when choosing a speaker and/ or an MC, that will appeal to such a broad and varied audience although we did have one thing in common – we were all female professionals.

Working with clients on events, we know only too well how much thought and debate goes into this element of planning and rightly so, as the speaker’s contribution is often what an event’s success and value is measured upon by the audience – moreover location, food, entertainment etc.

Network Cork got it very right with a speech from the President of Network Ireland Deirdre Waldron who gave her personal story of taking the leap of faith into entrepreneurship that demonstrated the importance of self belief and support from fellow women in business.

This communicated through an impactful story the invaluable support and network that Network Cork and indeed Network Ireland is.

This was followed by a speech from Bernice Moran who few in the room knew before the event but who everyone wanted to be friends with by the end. Bernice is the co-founder and director of luxury confectionery business The Be Sweet Company but she’s not just a female entrepreneur but a Virgin Atlantic 747 pilot and a mum of three children!

She captivated the room with her awe-inspiring story, wit and humble charm. This savvy communicator and business woman sweetened up the room with chocolates (and boosted visual brand awareness with product placement on each table) and she expertly communicated not just her business and product’s key messages and USP’s, but also her own – after all people buy people.

With brilliant skill she told her incredible story of high achievement, “ballsiness”, belief and business all the while being relatable, honest, engaging as well as entertaining. She won the room over and was a talking point among the audience for the rest of the event and thereafter.

I, and many others I know of who attended the event, told other people we met since about her and her story and in doing so we’ve not only helped to spread the word of the brilliant Bernice Moran and her company but of Network Cork and Network Ireland.

This is the perfect result from an event such as this and it just goes to show the power and reach of a good story.

Aoibhinn Twomey - Fuzion PRAoibhinn Twomey

Aoibhinn Twomey is a Senior Account Director with Fuzion PR, Marketing and Graphic Design  who have offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Is the grass always greener on the other side?

April 8, 2016

London

Did you know that 48,000 Irish people run part of their business in Britain?

I didn’t until, out of curiosity, I popped along to a conference aimed at those interested in dipping their toe in the UK market. Entrepreneurs by their nature are ambitious so there’s naturally a perception that a leap across the pond will be the Holy Grail for business growth and expansion. Wanting a bite of the cherry is naturally tempting for entrepreneurs in Ireland in light of the fact that the UK accounts for €4 out of every €10 generated from our export sales.

So if you’re doing business in Ireland – it can’t be too hard to do the same in the UK. Can it?

While in theory the markets may seem similar, it’s vital that those considering stepping into the UK market invest a great deal of time and planning. It takes months of advance budgeting and planning as well as in depth desktop research of the; market, landscape, locations and workforce. How will you generate the right awareness for your business in such a large marketplace and do you know enough about that marketplace to start to answer that question?

Do you have the finances to sustain the business and the promotion of it while you are on that awareness curve?

Justin McInerney of Accuflow spoke at the conference and was refreshingly open about his experience of setting up his multi million business in the UK.

He warned businesses to exercise caution and that achieving success in the UK is a hard slog: “Many don’t realise that at the beginning that travel and operating costs can reach £1,000 a week”

He also went on to describe how he first set up his business in an area which sounded good on paper – it was a hub for countless other business, but the downside of that meant that the workforce was transient and he found it difficult to retain staff given how many employment opportunities they had on their doorstep. I can only imagine the resources and time the company spent on hiring and rehiring staff.

At the conference, organised by Cork Chamber, I got chatting to an entrepreneur who was keen to investigate the UK market but from a brief and casual chat about their business, it struck me as to whether they were anywhere near optimising the Irish market opportunities with their product.

While it might make perfect sense to look at the ‘bigger opportunities’ the grass may sometimes seem greener when it comes to the UK or any overseas market. It might just make sense to optimise the Irish market first – explore each and every opportunity to achieving business success here first when you have the best and right positioning. If you haven’t achieved that in this country then it might be illogical to feel you can achieve it in another, more competitive market such as the UK.

Aoibhinn Twomey - Fuzion PRAoibhinn Twomey

Aoibhinn Twomey is a Senior Account Director with Fuzion PR & Marketing which has offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Deadline 21st January – Register your lobbying activity

January 12, 2016

Lobbying

There’s nothing like a deadline to inspire action!

Maybe it’s the former journalist in me but I work best when to a deadline so I am quite partial to working against the clock (I accept this is both a strength of mine but also an annoyance for those who know and work with me!).

The first submissions for the lobbying register are due on January 21st so I’ve been working on behalf of Fuzion to compile our own submissions of activity on behalf of clients.

I’ve also been dealing with our various clients in relation to how and whether they are involved in lobbying and if there’s an onus on them to submit their own reports. (It’s comforting to see I’m not the only one who works on a ‘needs must’ basis.)

The clients range from charity to childcare, legal to education and each of their queries, knowledge and attitudes to the register is different – some have registered as a ‘ticking the box’ exercise, another wants to leverage it for brand awareness, another was unsure as to whether they may be exempt from the register while a fourth client has an interesting scenario whereby Government officials engaged and approached them in relation to their service. What do they do?

It’s interesting to see how clients from across completely different sectors have had to engage in lobbying activity.

This new Regulation of Lobbying Act and the register will shine a light on lobbying – who is engaging in it, with whom and for what purposes.

Fuzion is among those who will submit a return detailing, on behalf of clients, what public officials we have contacted, the subject matter and the intended result of this communication. January 21st, will be our first of three returns that we will file this year.

My advice to each of our relevant clients is to register and to ensure that their submissions are complete and transparent. Of course there is a period of grace of one year to allow the legislation to bed down which means that no penalties will be incurred but our advice is to start as you mean to go on.

You should also know your obligations in relation to the Lobbying Act and if unsure, it would be prudent to register and submit reports relating to activity.

The reputational effect and consequences of not filing – having to answer questions by the media and officials as to why certain correspondence was not logged, is a high price to pay for innocence.

Register now ..

Aoibhinn Twomey - Fuzion PRAoibhinn Twomey

Check out another great post by Aoibhinn “The Changing face of lobbying

Aoibhinn Twomey is a Senior Account Director with Fuzion PR & Marketing which has offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

My sister and her special brand

April 9, 2015

West Cork

I was chatting to a friend of mine recently and mentioned that my sister, whom she’d never met, was home to visit.

Instinctively, I felt the noun ‘sister’ didn’t do her justice, so I followed it with a few words that I felt encapsulated her as a person “she’s a do anything for anyone, a loves to laugh, strong character but she’s also a complete softy”. I smiled as I said it, naturally because of the feelings and memories that her ‘image’ had evoked.

Branding’ can be disregarded cynically as corporate speak for manipulation and trickery but in reality emotional evocation through identity applies to everything and everyone – even sisters.

Reputation/branding is one of our most valuable assets.

When building and managing a company or an organisations’s identity, it’s incredibly effective to personify it so that it elicits the same positive thoughts and feelings among its consumers. A solid brand identity is established through brand values that are built and communicated with passion and consistency and, importantly, over time.

We work with not just companies and organisations, but individuals and even regions to help them define and harness their brand. We do this by helping them tell their stories, by mapping out their core values and by highlighting what makes them truly special.

That then helps us to devise and implement strategies/a unified behaviour that represents and firmly establishes and illuminates this brand. We explain how it needs to be carried through everything; logo, signage, marketing materials, CSR activities, internal and external communications and its people.

West Cork brochures

The power, potential and evocative nature of branding hit home to me again recently when I was wrapping up on a tourism project for a destination branding initiative, which involved the creation of two tourism brochures for West Cork.

Throughout the project the goal was to convey the region’s sense of identity as distinct, authentic and compelling, encouraging visitors to immerse themselves in the landscape enriched with a deeper knowledge of the region’s past and present. During the course of my work I learned so much myself about West Cork’s history, folklore, landscape and sights and how woven together they create this truly compelling, evocative and inspiring identity.

Each of those tens of thousands of brochures, distil not just information, but they tell a special story, they convey an experience, a unique identity, a reputation and a promise.

Branding is where the tangible and the intangible meet.

She’s a lot more than my ‘sister’.

Aoibhinn Twomey - Fuzion PRAoibhinn Twomey

Aoibhinn Twomey is a Senior Account Director with Fuzion PR & Marketing which has offices in Cork and Dublin, Ireland

 

 


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