Posts Tagged ‘Public Relations’

Bad Haircut ..

August 22, 2011
Greg Canty - Fuzion

Haircut? - I just had one!

For years and years I went to the same hairdresser to get my curly mop chopped. For anyone that has witnessed my curls they will know that it is not a regular head of hair – at least that is what I have convinced myself!

Yes, I am particular and once I find someone who I trust to look after my hair I will continue to go there every time, asking for the same person – you end up feeling comfortable with the surroundings and the staff there, which in particular for a guy is a big deal … A hair salon can be a daunting place for a male, surrounded by women nattering, getting blow drys and with their hair in all sorts of weird tin foil! (surely there must be a better method?)

The guys reading this will be wondering why I don’t just go to a barbers – trust me, anytime I have done this it has been a total disaster … even when I was a kid the regular barber just couldn’t handle my hair. So, unfortunately I am destined for a life of embarrassing moments at hair salons ..

My hair trips have been interesting down though the years – ending up in the window under red lamps in Peter Marks at Wilton Shopping Centre when you are 15 on a Wednesday afternoon half day from school is not funny when your buddies are in convulsions looking in – last time I agreed for my hair to be dried naturally!

Or wondering that no matter what instructions I gave the salon I always ended up being scalped – years later I learnt that when I left the house my mother would ring the salon and warn them that she was coming for a refund if they did not give me a decent hair cut – for years I went around thinking hairdressers were deaf!!

The worst was being handed a brush to clean down my clothes and instead I start brushing my hair with it – mortified and red faced I left the salon with the staff thoroughly enjoying the hilarious experience ..

Now, do you understand why I am sensitive about the hairdressers and how important it is that I am comfortable there? – you can also understand that it would take me an awful lot to change from my regular salon.

Sure enough it happened – a few times I rang and they were always too busy and couldn’t squeeze me in, would the following Wednesday week at 4:30 suit? Not really ..

This happened a number of times and eventually I took a huge leap of faith and changed salons and 5 years later I am still going to the one that I switched to – I now know the staff quite well and am comfortable going there.

Truth is most of us are very slow to change our habits unless something has gone wrong, until the day you get a bad haircut – I guess there is more than one hairdresser in the land that can cut my strange mop of hair after all ..

As comfortable as your customer is with you and your team watch out for bad haircuts..

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

PR is all about managing your reputation – while at Fuzion we can enhance your reputation through the media the most important aspects come directly from you.

Are you Making a Sale or Changing a Customers Routine?

August 2, 2011
Cafe Chico

Do you change your routine easily?

I admit it … I’m boring!

Every Sunday morning myself and Dee go for a walk with our four legged creature, Bing to the local park with our good friends Tommy and Joan and their four legged creature, Tammy.

This routine was so predictable – walk to Ballincollig Park, lap of the first field, walk alongside the river to the lower fields, cut up through the Gunpowder mills and the GAA fields, into the village, stop for coffee and scones at Nosh and Coffee, chat, walk through the village and home. This as I mentioned is what we do pretty much every Sunday.

A few months ago a very cute little mobile coffee kiosk moved into the car park at the start of the park serving coffee and buns and they even have a few very neat tables and chairs outside their unit complete with flowers in vases. Now, this didn’t really suit our break “routine” as the location of the kiosk was at the start of our walk and not in the middle so even though it was a really nice set up it wasn’t quite right for us (its a big deal changing people’s habits!).

Recently we did our usual walk but some of the “crew members” were a little hungover so having completed stage one of our walk we double backed, cut the walk short and went back to the little kiosk, “Cafe Chico” (the owner called the kiosk after her dog, who she brings with her for company each day) for some very welcome refreshments.

The woman working in the kiosk was really friendly, the coffee and home made scones were perfect and to top it all she offered us biscuits from a tin especially for the four legged creatures – Wow! this woman knew and understood her customers really well.

Officially we have changed our routine! Now the first leg of our walk is the same as it was before but now we do a few laps of the lower fields, double back along the river to lap the first field again and then return to the beginning to enjoy our coffee, scones and chat at Cafe Chico!

I know.. exciting stuff!

Why? She runs a great little friendly business, she understands her customer and she goes a little further than you would expect but fully appreciate.

Are you making a sale or are you changing a customers routine – which is worth more?

While we can look after your PR needs, your reputation starts with what you do yourself.

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

The Business Social Media Dilemma

May 2, 2011
Gary Vaynerchuk signing his new book

Gary Vaynerchuk signing his new book

In the terrific Smarter Egg book learning programme our group has just finished reading and discussing the excellent book by Gary Vaynerchuk, “The Thank You Economy” , which deals broadly with businesses adopting a “Thank You” philosophy and embracing the Social Media opportunity properly to be successful in the marketplace.

The book was really interesting but in it Gary V took a huge swipe at PR companies for their approach to Social Media for their clients, which was a little unfair (then again, it depends on your PR company!).

Basically he stated that 90% of the worst social media engagements were produced by PR companies! Even stronger than that he accused PR companies of spotting that the “wind” was blowing away from them towards social media and the reason they are engaging with clients in this area is just to bolster up their fees and chargeable hours.

In my experience Gary is way off the mark but it does put the spotlight on what I refer to as the “Social Media Dilemma“.

Social Media Dilemma

It goes like this – as a PR company who always takes a broad “holistic” approach to communications we know and clearly understand the benefit of Social Media for our clients, in fact in 99% of cases well before them. We push for them to engage in this area properly but we do realise that the “voice” used on the platforms should be a trusted and skilled internal voice.

Now for the dilemma – often this trusted and skilled voice is not available and our client is not prepared to allocate the proper resource to this area.

To make sure that they do not get left behind their competitors we will make ensure that our client’s open up their Social Media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube and their blog), that they look the part as they are an extension of their brand online and we will also provide them with the necessary training so that they are well equipped to use them proficiently.

We know we cannot do this for them but we will always be there to support them and will never be shy in recommending that they should be more active in that space. Sometimes as an option we might assist them in the “learning phase” until they are fully up and running. (often we have to be quite careful with Social Media conversations because if a client isn’t ready to listen you will end up annoying them!)

We see the huge opportunity for clients and if the Social Media platforms were not there we would be gutted – they add so much opportunity for all our clients.

Swiss Watchmaker
Master Craftsman

Dilemma: Who? – Social Media Manager

Who looks after the Social Media in a business is a vital issue. Gary V refers to this person as the “Community Manager” and is quite right in stating that it should not be someone that you can’t find anything else to do with!

He rightly suggests that this person should not be an intern or another junior person. It should be someone who knows the business intimately, who understands the customer, who is passionate about customer service and who is well able to communicate in the “social media” arena – this person must be quite skilled in this area, which is often underestimated.

Why Social Media activity fails?

This leads me to Gary’s suggestions as to why most Social Media initiatives fail:

1. Using tactics instead of strategy

2. Using it to exclusively put out fires

3. Using it to brag

4. Using it as a press release

5. Exclusively re-tweeting other people’s material rather than generating “own” content

6. Using it to push product

7. Expecting immediate results

I agree with Gary on all of these points 100% but I think it is missing a BIG, BIG last point – a NUMBER 8!

8. Skill

This for me is probably the biggest point and while Gary alludes to it at times I think he actually doesn’t fully appreciate it and maybe he takes his own talent in this area for granted.

Using social media is a very highly skilled discipline, which requires individuals:

  • who understand each of the media intimately
  • who have strong “informal writing” ability
  • who understand the business and customers well
  • who can be fully trusted to be the voice of the company,
  • who have enquiring minds
  • who can manage the unstructured nature of the communications
  • who can respond themselves under most circumstances but knowing when they need assistance
  • who can spot and manage communications with genuine customers and at the same time filter out posts by possible competitors/cranks
  • who have the ability to summarise and relate issues back to management in a timely fashion.

To add to this the platforms have to be managed 24/7, which requires some co-ordination of resources, consistency and dedication.

Wow – that is some job!

Gary Vaynerchuk is a social media genius who is the passionate owner of his own wine business, which makes him quite unique – maybe he underestimates his ability in this area and as a result thinks it is easy for anyone to just jump in and be an expert.

So Gary, thanks for the book, thanks for the terrific examples (Old Spice and the San Francisco dentist!) and insights, never underestimate your own skills and please don’t be too hard on the poor PR companies in the future!

Fuzion provide Social Media Consultancy and Social Media Training.

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

The Fuzion Women and The Royal Wedding!

April 29, 2011
Mary & William

William and Kate or is that Mary?

Now before I go any further let me stress that at Fuzion we have a team of intelligent, diligent and very hard working women ..

“Oh my God” this is going to be the best day ever … Mary (our Londoner, who may feel hard done by today – in the UK this would have been a day off – I think it is here as well!!) declares in a very excited fashion – Oh My God is right !! They are definitely a different species ..

The amount of time and detail and arrangements that have gone into the big day is incredible – I’m not talking about the the arrangements in London, I’m talking about the arrangements by the intelligent and hard working female crew in Fuzion.

The William and Kate inscribed champagne flutes are on standby, special cakes have been baked for the occasion, the LCD screen is set up and the wedding of the decade is about to be screened.

10:30 AM and we are already listening to the excited screams, oohs and aahs about the different dresses and I can confirm that the girls have freely admitted that “we would all love to be a princess”!

10:40: “Oh my God, I have that coat”, “Look at the dress it is, AMAZING !!” “She’s put on weight” “Look, look it’s Prince Charles”

11:02: The girls freak out as the screen freezes on the CNN feed- panic !

Now all the boys are watching it as well ..if you can’t beat them you may as well join them!

Major excitement as we have just unveiled a picture of Mary with Prince William – Paul did a great job with it and I think Mary is genuinely impressed .. we have another little gift for her later!

11:45: We are in the middle of the vows and girls are nervous .. very tense … Yahoo !! They have done it

Fuzion Girls

Fuzion girls working hard!

12:15 “Do you think they will kiss on the balcony ?” – What do you think? – of course they will ..

The champagne and Pimms is flowing, the scones and cream are ready, we have sandwiches, we have gorgeous cheeses, we have pate .. we’re having fun!

The girls are now practicing their Queen “wave” – Jill is definitely the best, guess who has done this before.

Mary is not impressed at the picture of her as the Queen, she prefers being a Princess I am guessing – she is the most fabulous girl, we’re mad about her! William would be lucky to have her but he had to settle for Kate, another commoner.

12:50 Ali arrives to join the fun!

13:05 and all the girls now are just waiting for the balcony kiss (by the way Posh Spice’s outfit got the thumbs up!)

13:27 – the moment has come, they have appeared on the balcony – Mary has declared to us that “I have goose bumps”, Kerrie being very practical “Ah for God’s sake, hold hands will ye!” .. wait for it, wait for it .. lots of waving, anticipation, more waving and there you go, smack – the most polite, useless pathetic kiss of all time!

.. the crowd are chanting … kiss again, kiss again, obviously not very happy with the 1st one … nothing doing just yet, more waving. Ah damn – they kissed while the cameras were following the air force jets flying overhead – what a waste!

That’s nearly it, they’re all going in, backs turned and in they go – “That marriage isn’t going to last” , “Ah, I think it will”

Fuzion wedding girls photo
Fuzion girls know how to have fun!

William and Kate (or Mary!) you brought us a little bit of magic today, thank you and the very best of luck!

It probably won’t be easy..

Now – back to work!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Are you spending enough on Positive Costs?

April 25, 2011
Doorman - Positive Costs

Meet and Greet - Positive Cost?

In my accounting days (yes, I know most of you won’t believe it – I was!!) we had a few different ways of looking at the costs of a business.

The most popular of these was a very simple analysis – Fixed Costs, which were those costs that would not vary with volume and Variable Costs, which were the costs which did vary according to volume. This was quite a simplistic model, which didn’t always hold up!

We then had other methods of looking at costs such as Zero Base Costing and Activity Based Costing .. interesting stuff indeed!

Since the recession has kicked in I have witnessed first hand clients being advised to cut back on expenses by the accounting fraternity and often they just do it themselves automatically – the types of costs that get chopped first are those that are deemed to be “unnecessary”, which will typically include marketing &  advertising spend, sales reps, items like training, corporate entertainment, Christmas gifts, staff entertainment  and other “extras”.

On the surface it is easy to figure out why companies would cut back in such a way but you could ask the question: Why spend this money when sales were easier to come by and when it is harder to win business you just abandon them?

Could reduced sales be a self fulfilling prophecy when you cut out certain overheads?

The New Cost Model

Taking the knowledge of my old profession and combining this with what I am witnessing with clients every day I am now proposing a new way of analysing costs.

Here goes ..

There are actually three types of costs:

Negative Costs –   these are the costs that a business is “stuck” with, regardless of volume. It would include Rent and Rates (but not necessarily 100% of these – I will explain that later), Insurance, ESB, etc.

Maintenance Costs – these are the costs of servicing the business that you have brought in. It would such items as staff costs, raw materials, power and delivery costs.

Positive Costs – these are the costs that are all about bringing new business in, effectively the costs, which should have a “positive effect” on the business.

Positive costs are the most important costs of the whole business, they are the elements that are designed to start the engine, the elements that can make things happen, that “trigger” customers to actually place an order.

Positive costs are far reaching and could include surprise elements that you would not expect: the premium you pay to have a premises in a location that will bring in more customers, the cost of washing the car after it has been serviced, the cost of polishing the shoes that have been repaired, the cost of having a receptionist who answers calls promptly and deals with customer queries swiftly.

There could be an element of positive costs to most people overhead in the business – the porter who does “meet and greet” at the door of the hotel, the credit controller who carefully spends time with customers who are experiencing difficulty, the accountant who spends time with customers to understand the business better, the staff party to reward a hard working team and a deliberate initiative to improve morale.

I’m sure with a little effort you will think of thousands of other unexpected examples – all of these elements contribute to bringing in more business and create a “positive effect” on the business.

Of course Positive Costs will include items such as advertising, marketing, graphic design, web marketing, social media activity and even PR!

Positive costs are absolutely essential for generating business for any company – cutting these out may be viewed as a necessary step but it will eventually choke the oxygen of the business.

Recession (or any time for that matter)

Using our new cost model I would suggest the following approach:

Analyse your costs into the different cost categories and work towards –

1. Reducing the negative costs as much as possible

2. Improving efficiencies and work practices so that maintenance costs are as little as possible

3. Spending as much of your overhead budget as possible on positive costs .

I am not for one minute suggesting naive spending – always look for the best value in your positive costs and don’t waste money, making sure they are actually positive costs – that the spend results in increases in business.

Are you spending enough on Positive Costs in your business?

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

The Pitch – Did Donald Draper really find it that easy?

January 23, 2011
Donald Draper - Mad Men

Did Donald Draper really find it that easy?

In the beginning it starts with a briefing meeting, the client outlines their requirements and you listen, gently probing for information, what kind of a business is it? What are their challenges and objectives ? What activity have they tried in the past? What are the dynamics of their industry and what kind of people are they? What are they looking for from you? You commit to coming back with a plan and you set a date for the follow up meeting..

Ok, you’ve put the toe in the water and now you’ve started on the roller coaster journey of “The Pitch”.

With one maybe two weeks of a gap to the presentation date you start that process of thinking, researching, discussing, brainstorming and even dreaming about this possible new client. It’s after slipping into your bloodstream and you are well and truly on the way.

Then the crew up the pace and start working on the plan with roles assigned to each of the team. We chat over coffee, we chat over lunch, the late phone calls, the good ideas. What do you think of this idea ..?

Now you start to become the actual business owner, you start investing emotionally in the challenge and finding the best solutions that will achieve “your” business objectives, your heart and mind are totally committed.

Two days to go, where is everyone? A quick review meeting to make sure the team is on track. The final proposal is starting to take shape.

One day to go and the visuals are other final material is produced, review, review and review again. There is no point being half committed, to have a chance you have to go the extra mile, which always means late nights and short weekends ..

Good suit today! Who is going to present which parts? Rehearse and rehearse and the final pitch is finally ready to present, Oh.. Last minute ideas .. what about it? Ok, go for it, make those last minute adjustments and then final print, burn CDs and off we go.

The nervous excitement and adrenaline take the team through the presentation to the prospective client. The team plays their part, fielding the questions, adding our nuggets of wisdom and experience, taking extra notes and then it is over.

Thanks a million, that was great, we will review your plan and come back to you” and then the inevitable post mortem starts.

What did they think of us? Did I say the right thing? What did he mean by that comment? When do you think they will give us feedback? .. The million questions roll around in your head, could we have done better and most importantly, will they go with us?

Then comes the crash.. you have been so fired up and caught up in the roller coaster of the process that you now are totally exhausted when it is all over.

You’ve played your part, given it your best shot and now it is time to detach yourself emotionally from the process. When you commit 110% it can be tough .

Before I used be on “tender hooks” waiting for the result, which normally doesn’t really happen me any more. Now when the presentation is over, that is it for me. We’ll wait to hear and if enough time passes and we haven’t heard I will push for feedback (it’s amazing how often you never get feedback, which I am convinced is an Irish thing – one crew actually admitted to me that they were just looking for new ideas!!) and that is it.

When we win it is fabulous and when we lose then try not to take it too personally, it could be for one 1,000 different reasons.. At least always give yourself the best chance of winning and learn what you can, so you can be better the next time.

Today we made a great pitch (at least that’s what we thought!), which we put an incredible amount of time, effort and ourselves into. We went through the whole emotional rush and now we are in that “after” place – totally exhausted!

Will we win the account? Who knows.. but I reckon we have a good chance! The great news is that we have another pitch to start into tomorrow!

Donald Draper from Mad Men made it look too easy!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion Communications

Spin

December 21, 2010
Let The Great World Spin

Let The Great World Spin

I first picked up Let The Great World Spin by Colum McCann back in June but have only just managed to finish it now.  I’m an avid reader, so to take 7 months to read a book is unheard of for me.  I could have written one in that length of time.

Let The Great World Spin has won numerous awards such as the 2009 National Book Award, the 2010 Ambassador Book Award and even Oprah had it in her list of “Books You Can’t Put Down”.  I actually found it difficult to keep picking it up.

Back in early summer there was a massive advertising push on Let The Great World Spin.  It was everywhere.  Not just taking over the windows of local book stores but blanket coverage on billboards around the country.  And that was my mistake – I fell for the advertising.

As I chose a selection of books to see me through the sunny holiday season I let the advertising influence me.  Normally I’ll be more informed and decide what literature I like (or dislike) via trusted reviews in the media or by way of endorsements from writers I enjoy.   Sometimes I’ll even judge a book by its cover, afterall the publishing company has spent a great deal of money on graphic design precisely to appeal to me and my target market.

Now, Let The Great World Spin actually garnered rave reviews.  As I write this I checked out Colum McCann’s excellent website and had a peek at the many plaudits.  He deserves them all, there’s no doubt about that, and I appreciate the book for its literary merit but it just didn’t do it for me.  I kept trying to get back into the story and at one point considered ditching it altogether, but decided that I’d invested too much time just to abandon ship.

My point, dear reader, is that while advertising works, a targeted method of promotion, like PR, is more beneficial in the long run – both for brand and consumer.  A good Public Relations campaign has the power not only to influence but to influence the influencers.  PR can instil views, thoughts and beliefs that stay with the consumer long after they have digested the information.

PR is like a long, loving relationship while Advertising is just a one night stand.

Working in the industry (I’m a former hack turned flack) I like to think I can make up my own mind and not be swayed by advertising.  I’m annoyed that I didn’t do my homework, that I was easily persuaded to buy the book before I knew anything about it.  Perhaps I might still have bought it after looking up my favourite reviewers; Colum McCann is, of course, one of the greatest writers in the world.  Next time I’ll be better informed and make my own mind up … maybe with a little influence from the world of spin.

Wayne Cronin is a PR consultant with Fuzion Communications.

Pics from our 10’th Birthday Party!

December 19, 2010
Fuzion Communications team pic

Fuzion "Dream Team"

Elaine Duggan and Alison O'Brien

Elaine Duggan and Alison O'Brien

Sarah Waldron, Deirdre Waldron & Bibi Baskin

Sarah Waldron, Deirdre Waldron & Bibi Baskin

Mary Quille & Evelyn

Mary & Evelyn

Brian O'Connell & Doreen O'Mahony

Brian O'Connell & Doreen O'Mahony

Yvonne Cronin, Luca Shoes, and Bryan Flynn, Theatrix

Yvonne Cronin and Bryan Flynn

Virginia Foley, CIT Cork School of Music, and Glynis Dennehy,

Virginia Foley and Glynis Denneh

Mairead, Joan & Ruth

Kate Nagle, Diet Deli & Alison O'Brien, Hope Foundation

Kate Nagle & Alison O'Brien,

Deirdre Waldron & Greg Canty, Fuzion Communications

Deirdre and Greg

Ellen Canty & Kerrie O'Callaghan

Ellen Canty & Kerrie O'Callaghan

Deirdre Waldron, Bibi Baskin, Tommy Doyle, Trish Hickey, Joan Doyle

Legendspast and present !

Brendan Canty, Ellen Canty, Greg Canty

The Canty's - Brendan, Ellen and Greg

Richard Nash & Marie

Richard Nash & Marie

Conor George Evening Echo & Gina Kelly Fuzion

Conor George & Gina Kelly

Wayne Cronin Fuzion & Kate Nagle DietDeli

Wayne Cronin Fuzion & Kate Nagle DietDeli

Training that is bad for your business?

November 30, 2010
Importance of Customer Service

Importance of Customer Service

I went for lunch recently in one of Cork’s well-known eateries which is known for great food, fantastic service and friendly staff. They have built up a really strong brand over the years and despite the economic down-turn, seem to be perpetually busy. I won’t name names; they do not come out of this well.

While waiting to be seated, I stood holding my tray and the proprietor came up followed by, it has to be said, an extremely timid looking member of staff. She was clearly being trained in and, as this was the lunch-time rush, was probably feeling the pressure. She offered to take my tray, was really friendly and I would have left the restaurant a satisfied customer had the following not occurred.

There may have been twelve to fifteen people in the general area at the time when the owner of the establishment turned around and publicly berated the girl for some minor mistake. This wasn’t a quick slap on the wrist, done with discretion; this was a humiliating dressing-down which, quite frankly, could have waited until later. I was mortified for the girl in question and, in typical Irish fashion, felt I had to be extra nice to her so she wouldn’t feel worthless or, God forbid, start crying (another Irish trait; I don’t deal well with emotional outbursts).

As somebody who worked in the service industry, and was an appalling waitress, I was really angry on her behalf. There were many occasions I’m sure that I deserved to be given out to and I was, but in a discreet and fair manner. Nobody deserves to be spoken to like that, so vociferously and so publicly. It was a hurtful, stinging rebuke and made customers who heard it quite uncomfortable.

The first lesson I learned about PR was “People do business with people first and with businesses second”. On the strength of that encounter, I’m not entirely certain that I would return to a place where I now suspect the staff are smiling manically at me because there is a threat of death-by-hanging on their lunch break. It takes many years to build a good brand and, in that respect, this business owner must be doing something right however I would be loath to support a business who doesn’t appear to appreciate their staff or who instils a culture of fear in order to generate results.

Kerrie O’Callaghan works in PR with Fuzion Communications

Summer of Fun!

November 26, 2010
Mary Quille - Summer of Fun

Mary Quille - Summer of Fun

Growing up in London I used to wonder why my parents left the beautiful Island of Ireland and moved to London. Even though I enjoyed growing up in the UK, I will always remember spending the summer holidays in Ireland with my brother and sister and all of our many cousins, running around in the fields, feeding the Billy goat and horse riding.

I look back and laugh how we used to leave our grandparent’s house at 9am and only returning to eat, than straight off out the door again! We wouldn’t return until it was dark, not before mum and dad would have to come looking for us first!! There was certainly a lot more freedom over here which is every Child’s dream.

More than two and a half years ago I decided to return to my motherland and moved to Cork. After spending most of my life in England, I thought it would be a nice change and I don’t regret it one bit!

Even though the country is in a bad place right now, I love the beautiful scenery, the fact that Cork city is small but not too small, I also love that you can never feel lonely as people genuinely love to have a chat with strangers, something that is considered weird in London. I often joke about the underground and that you could walk onto a tube naked and not one person would look at you!

When people think of Ireland, they think of it as a beautiful place with friendly people. It is the people of Ireland who have helped market this country, they are its USP. As much as the government try to destroy this ideology, they will never succeed.

Whether I stay in Ireland, return to England, or travel further afield, I will always think of Ireland as a great place with great people.

Mary Quille works in PR with Fuzion Communications


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