Sunday 21 January 2018

AdLib: Concannon looks on bright side

Kinetic’s new deputy MD Aoife Hudson, centre, with Kinetic CEO Simon Durham and MD Carol Hogan.
Kinetic’s new deputy MD Aoife Hudson, centre, with Kinetic CEO Simon Durham and MD Carol Hogan.

Michael Cullen

With Ryanair's head of communications Robin Kiely cancelling his talk at the Public Relations Institute of Ireland (PRII) annual conference in Dublin Castle, delegates' attention swung to what insights the Taoiseach's department's new strategic communications unit (SCU) director John Concannon might share during his opening address.

Before Concannon took to the podium, PRII president and MKC client director Cian Connaughton described the controversial SCU as "a smart move, long overdue" and its critics as being guilty of political point-scoring. "PR professionals aren't just for hurricanes," Connaughton quipped. Concannon said the SCU isn't merely intended as a platform to promote Taoiseach Leo Varadkar but will operate across all Government departments in letting the public know what's being done and the reasons why.

John Concannon.
John Concannon.

PR energy in the past saw the Government press office, headed up by Feargal Purcell, as trying to set the day's political agenda on 'Morning Ireland' and handling national issues as they broke. In contrast, the SCU would explain funding and take heed of international best practices, like what the Dutch government achieved seven years ago.

The Marketer of the Year winner in 2010 for Fáilte Ireland's staycations initiative said the unit would streamline what the many State bodies do and reduce the number of quangos. It will hone in on the 450 websites and create a more combined online information service, along similar lines to Britain's Gov.uk. He scoffed at suggestions that PR and marketing services companies had something to fear from the SCU - the unit "won't be eating anyone's lunch". As much as €170m is spent on Government communications each year.

To the strains of Seán Ó Riada's 'Mise Éire', Concannon spoke about the positive vibes created by the 1916 Centenary, The Gathering, the Wild Atlantic Way and, more recently, Creative Ireland. What all these Government-backed initiatives had in common was giving communities at home and Ireland's diaspora a collective goal and reasons to be cheerful after the banking collapse and the surrendering of our national sovereignty to the IMF.

If all the estimated 36 million people overseas with an Irish heritage were to return home tomorrow, the country would sink, he added. Conference facilitator Conall O Moráin of the Irish International Business Network (IIBN) and presenter of Today FM's business show, said the array of talent and creativity in Irish PR never fails to amaze him. "I'm not saying this to yank your chain," O Moráin added, "but the amount of guff I get from abroad is astounding." Irish PR people should look overseas and as well as liaising with State agencies like Enterprise Ireland and the IDA, they should try and develop closer ties with the network of Irish embassies.

 

- WPP's out of home (OOH) poster specialist Kinetic has promoted the agency's strategic business director Aoife Hudson to deputy managing director, to work alongside managing director Carol Hogan and CEO Simon Durham. Hudson, a graduate of IT Tallaght, joined Kinetic five years ago and has since worked on such accounts as Heineken, Paramount Pictures and VHI Healthcare. She also served as president of Kinetic's global junior board.

- SME lender Linked Finance has appointed BBDO as its creative ad agency. It follows the company raising €2m in new finance to grow the business and on a marketing campaign to raise its profile.

Linked Finance's head of marketing Alan Fagan said having lent over €34m to Irish SMEs since its launch four years ago, the strategy is to market their services more broadly. Murphy's Ice Cream raised €75,000 through Linked Finance.

- On the new business front, Chemistry has added two new motor accounts, Mitsubishi and Audi. The Mitsubishi win followed a contest with Bloom and Bonfire. Audi was previously handled by Atomic, which decided not to re-pitch. Chemistry has a track record in handling car accounts, having previously worked for BMW-Mini. Four agencies will pitch for the Dublin Bus account currently with Rothco.

- On the PR front, Kerrygold owner Ornua is asking agencies to pitch. Nama and Dublin Bus are both out to tender in the public sector space. Also, the Office of Government Procurement has run a process for two PR frameworks - €25,000 and under with 25 agencies, and €25,000 and over, with 12 agencies involved.

- Work-life balance is what young people want most from a career and 72pc believe tech matters most, a Vodafone survey shows. Jobs in marketing, communications, education, IT and software development are the most sought-after posts. The study was conducted among students aged 15-24 to help roll out Vodafone's 2018 graduate programme.

- Connacht Rugby has extended its ties with NUI Galway for another two years. The university became the club's academy and education partner in 2013. Since then, 19 Connacht players have graduated from NUIG, including Denis Buckley, Eoin Griffin and Sean O'Brien.

Michael Cullen is editor of Marketing.ie; cullen@marketing.ie

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