Thursday 16 August 2018

AdLib: Down to business on Brexit fallout

Liadha Madden, Carat; DAN chief executive Liam McDonnell; Peter Forde, Vizeum; and Sinead Duell. Photo: Roger Kenny
Liadha Madden, Carat; DAN chief executive Liam McDonnell; Peter Forde, Vizeum; and Sinead Duell. Photo: Roger Kenny
Dan Pender, PR360
US Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton

Michael Cullen

No one has a clue as to what the outcome of Britain's decision to leave the European Union (EU) will be, but one thing's for sure, the exit creates a climate of uncertainty across Europe which opens doors for communicators, Fine Gael MEP Brian Hayes told a Public Relations Institute of Ireland (PRII) breakfast briefing on Brexit.

Hayes believes multinationals based in London will relocate. Economic uncertainty means it's hard to know which businesses will go and which will stay. Britain will slide into recession but how serious things become is anyone's guess.

Westminster will continue to enact EU policies as they hedge their bets on whether they should seek a model similar to what Norway has in the European Economic Area (EEA) and pay into the EU budget.

Hayes insisted Brexit shouldn't be compared to Maastricht or Lisbon, it's a once-in-a-lifetime decision to give up on the 'four freedoms' - movements of people, goods, capital and services over borders. Britain's new Prime Minister, Theresa May, has made it clear she's not for turning. If the leave decision is to be reversed, it would be the other side of a general election and that's over four years away.

"We hid behind British skirts a lot of the time," Hayes said. "We now need a new arrangement with Britain. Perhaps we should target the Benelux countries." Brexit can provide openings in financial and technology (fintech) markets, but it all depends on how Ireland manages the fallout.

The Government is working closely with Enterprise Ireland and the IDA. People should know 70pc of Ireland's financial decisions are made in Brussels. Brexit prompted PR clients to sit up and take notice.

"There's a lot of tyre kicking just now as uncertainty prevails," FleishmanHillard's head of issues and crisis management, James Dunny, said.

"Clients don't always see Ireland as a viable hub for communications and mediation skills. Social media means people are surrounded by like-minded people. Remember, the UK isn't going anywhere, regardless of whether it's in the EU," Dunny added.

Lorna Jennings, managing director at Keating and Associates, said Dublin was helped by IDA successes, many of them based on Ireland's close links with Britain. Ireland should market Dublin as a talent centre. "We must accept we're pretty small fry in the EU," Jennings added.

PR360 managing director Dan Pender referred to a post-Brexit poll his agency commissioned Amárach Research to conduct. Of the 1,000 people in Ireland interviewed, 62pc believe Europe is more important to Ireland than the UK and 86pc oppose cross-border controls.

At least one in three people are more likely to shop in Newry after Brexit and 77pc support EU membership.

Pender said we can't take certainties like corporate tax for granted and more could be done to influence US businesses. Certainty also means avoiding mistakes like the latest CSO report. Paul Krugman's labelling the 26pc growth in GDP as "leprechaun economics" saw Ireland's reputation take a right hammering.

Brexit reflects a hostility to authority - for right or wrong, Pender added. Consultants have to decide how best to communicate in the current climate.

While it might be difficult for PR people to explain to their mothers what they actually do, they know what they're about. Alex Connolly of Fáilte Ireland said when the penny finally drops, there will be a backlash in Britain against the Brexiteers.

Q Three of the four places on this year's Dentsu Aegis Network (DAN) graduate programme launched last October have now been filled.

The scheme is designed to provide young people with practical work experience and give them an in-depth industry knowledge about disciplines by rotating across DAN agencies Carat, Vizeum, iProspect and Isobar.

Over 100 applications for the four, full-time paid positions were received. The graduates started in early July 4 and are in the first of their four, six-week rotations.

For example, Sinead Duell is now a client service executive at iProspect. After working for 16 years in New York, running a bar and restaurant, she decided she wanted to take up a promotional role in hospitality.

She returned to Ireland and studied for a master's in marketing at the UCD Smurfit Graduate Business School in Blackrock.

When the chance came her way to join the DAN programme, she jumped at it. Duell sees it as a chance to work across media and digital and to learn from some of adland's best.

Q As the Democrats formally endorse Hillary Clinton as their US presidential candidate at their convention in Philadelphia, a close friend of Clinton's, Keith Ferrazzi, has been confirmed as a speaker for the Pendulum Summit in Dublin in January. Ferrazzi will present talks on authentic relationships and business excellence.

Michael Cullen is editor of

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