Posts Tagged ‘Down Syndrome 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

The changing face of lobbying in Ireland

September 7, 2015

Down Syndrome Ireland

What comes to mind when you think of lobbying?

People’s protests, petitions, media campaigns? Or perhaps you picture scenes of back-slapping behind closed doors between people with power and those with influence?

Whatever your views and opinions are of lobbying and lobbyists, it’s fair to say that the lobbying landscape will become far more transparent with the Regulation of Lobbying Act that comes into effect in this month.

Fuzion is among those who have registered as a lobbyist and as such we will be required to record details of relevant clients that we have engaged in lobbying activity on behalf of, the names of public officials we have contacted, the subject matter and the intended results of communications.

The legislation will require us and all other lobbyists to submit returns three times a year, beginning in January 2016.

Those affected by the new legislation include third-party lobbyists paid to engage with public representatives; companies with 10 or more employees, representative bodies and advocacy groups discussing relevant issues; and anyone lobbying about the development or zoning of land.

Lobbying has been a feature of our business and political landscape for centuries. However, the highly publicised corruption revelations and investigations give context and merit to the new regulations, which aims to give lobbying a robust ethical framework.

But it’s not just business leaders that use and value lobbying as an important tool to influencing decision makers.

Interestingly and perhaps it’s that time of year (pre Budget) but we’ve noticed increasing numbers of clients across various sectors – public and private, coming to us looking for support in relation to lobbying so the new legislation is certainly one we are keeping abreast of.

We also have a number of charities on our books and most, if not all, engage in lobbying at some level. Down Syndrome Ireland is a prime example of how lobbying can achieve significant changes.

We worked with them last year on one of the most critical and significant public awareness campaigns that gripped Ireland where we were tasked with being the voice of thousands of children with Down syndrome who were in danger of losing their discretionary medical cards.

The crucial mix of an unrelenting and determined media campaign and political lobbying gave the issue the attention it deserved.

With a clear strategy, many man hours (despite a modest budget) and sheer determination we were relieved to successfully secure a Government U-Turn on the issue months later.

It’s a lobbying campaign we are immensely proud of and we were also honoured to have won this year’s PRII award for Excellence in Lobbying for our work on that campaign.

Napoleon Bonaparte is quoted to have said: “ten people who speak make more noise than ten thousand who are silent,” which is very true.

One should never underestimate the potential of people power – if you believe, then use your voice.

Aoibhinn Twomey - Fuzion PRAoibhinn Twomey

Aoibhinn Twomey is a Senior Account Director with Fuzion PR & Marketing who lobbies on behalf of our clients from our offices in Cork and Dublin, Ireland

Patrick’s Hill, Heroes and Villains

August 17, 2011

Tour de Munster - Down Syndrome Ireland

The Anticipation

We anxiously waited on Patrick’s Hill in Cork alongside partners, children, other family members, people from the charity, collectors, sponsors, spectators, cycle fans and curious onlookers.

This was the finale of the Tour de Munster, one last leg of the gruelling 600km cycle around Munster in just four days. The 150 cyclists were delayed as there was a nasty tumble earlier in the day when one of the guys had a bad fall and suffered concussion – this left the schedule about an hour behind.

Every year Paul Sheridan and his team of cycling and fundraising enthusiasts endure this four days of madness for a different charity. For the second year in succession Down Syndrome Ireland are the chosen recipients for all the fundraising efforts, which already look like they are going to break all previous records.

Months of organisation, training, discipline and endurance have gone into this and every other Tour de Munster, which is now in its 11th year. Paul Sheridan is a tough task master and every year for months in advance he drives this team of cyclists hard, preparing them for these gruelling four days.

Tour de Munster - Down Syndrom Ireland

Who said this would be easy?

There are some seasoned cyclists in the troop but the 150 is also made up of a random mix of all sorts who have committed themselves to this crazy challenge. This includes parents of kids with Down Syndrome who are literally cycling for better facilities for their children – these aren’t superb athletes, just ordinary folks with ordinary lives doing extraordinary things.

The excitement is building on Patrick’s Hill and then we have the most awful incident – Ger McCarthy the professional press photographer while preparing to capture images for the newspapers the next morning turns his back for two seconds and discovers that both his expensive Nikon cameras have been stolen (Nikon D3 & D3s).

Did anyone spot anything? – this was done so swiftly and so professionally no one really realised the seriousness of what was happening around them. Basically a car (reddish/maroon old model Toyota) with a few opportunistic men (I don’t want to be racist but these guys have been described as Hispanic looking) drove up Patrick’s Hill, spotted the cameras on the ground behind Ger, did a quick u-turn, pulled in just him and quickly snatched the cameras and sped off… well done boys, aren’t you just fabulous!

Thankfully Griffith College have cameras outside their building and our two opportunists have been captured on camera – hopefully this will result in them getting what they deserve.

I must admit I was so furious and really upset about this – in the middle of all this “goodness” these thieves just turn up and show us all the other side of life.

A few phone calls later and Ger, the ever professional has a replacement camera and we have contacted the Gardai, the newspapers and radio stations and also been busy getting the message out on Twitter and Facebook.

Ger puts the incident to the back of his head and readies himself for the cycling troop.

Sean Kelly - Tour de Munster
Sean Kelly leads the Heroes up Patrick’s Hill

The excitement continues to build and eventually the 150 troop are spotted coming across Patrick’s Bridge escorted by a Gardai motorbike team. They stop at the end of the bridge while the Gardai manage the traffic to let the cyclists through. Led by the absolute Irish cycling legend Sean Kelly who stayed with the team for the full four day cycle the cyclists burst from the bridge, up Bridge Street and start the determined and punishing climb up Patrick’s Hill with hundreds of friends and spectators cheering them on and encouraging them to the summit.

Some at their own manageable pace and some sprinting to the top – the daunting hill is a little bit too much for some of the cyclists after the 600 kilometre, four day test and they carry their bikes up the hill.

The last leg is a short journey to the Silversprings hotel for family reunions, refreshments and celebrations – in the comfort of our car we make our way to the hotel and pass four of the cyclists who stopped to help one of the guys fix a puncture literally one minute from the hotel – this cycle is about something very, very special.

The courageous efforts by these heroes will benefit the many heroes in Munster affected with Down Syndrome.

Unfortunately as in every other walk of life for all of the heroes we have we also have too many villains.

Villains – take a good hard look at yourself and realise what you are doing to good people … don’t forget you were caught on camera!

Heroes – I salute you.

Ger McCarthy – thanks for being a total professional as always & we all hope you will get your gear back.

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

*Great Update – on Wednesday17th August (just 3 days after the incident) the cameras were recovered as a result of a house raid by the Gardai – this was possible due to the cameras, the help from the public, the help from the media and getting the story out on social media – all of this culminated in our friends being identified.

Good wins out in the end !

 


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