In uncertain times, it is more important than ever to share experience, insights and advice with your peers so we can all learn from one another. With this in mind, we are having conversations with members across various sectors to understand how they and their teams have adapted their strategies throughout the pandemic, what they have learned from it, and how they prepare to return to the new normal.

For this week’s instalment in the series we’ve chatted to Michael Clancy, Chief Operating Officer, Core.

If you are a member who would like to feature in the In Conversation with series please send an email to


MII: Hi Michael, how have the last 12-15 months impacted and shaped your business?

The last 12-15 months have sharpened our strategy and in many ways the pandemic has forced us to double down on it. Our strategy it is to provide marketers with every element they may need to achieve their business ambitions in one unified company.

Over this period, our clients’ needs, and ambitions varied significantly. At the start, our Media Practice was to the fore, as it was vital to keep customers up to date with changes that were happening daily. Then, our Strategy and Data Practices became more involved to help make sense of how brands could respond on a more planned basis. This led to clients engaging with our Research, Sponsorship and Creative Practices to create new and more relevant messaging for the world we found ourselves in.

Having the different elements under one roof (virtual for now ?) has allowed us to flex our services to deliver for our clients. From a business point of view, it has diversified our revenue making it easier to grow through turbulent times.

How have the last 12-15 months changed how you work with clients?

As has been the same for nearly everybody, how we interact with our clients has changed with everything being done virtually. Technology has allowed us all to keep the show on the road and Microsoft Teams has been a godsend! With that said, I think to consistently produce stand-out work, collaboration is vital and that is almost always better face to face. We will be embracing a hybrid way of working and the best of both worlds, but in Core we are very much looking forward to meeting with our clients in person and coming together to work on creative solutions.

What work are you most proud of from the last year?

Calling out the work we are most proud of, feels like being asked to choose a favourite child, and it always makes me uncomfortable. All our clients and teams have been doing exceptional work in challenging circumstances. I will say that managing to produce inspirational creative for the National Lottery while our Sponsorship and Data Practices combined to deliver a best-in-class sponsor exposure dashboard for the Four Provinces in rugby, is a brilliant achievement and shows our strategy in action.

Managing all of the media communications for the HSE in the most challenging public health environment we have ever known has been a Herculean task, and Fidelma Browne and her team in the HSE have done an incredible job keeping us all informed and safe. Great credit is due to them and the people that work on their business right across Core.

Outside of the work for our clients, I’m very proud that we have managed to keep our focus on the other elements that matter to us. In January, we earned a Silver accreditation from the Irish Centre for Diversity for our commitment to D&I – the only communications company in Ireland to do so. While we have lots more work to do in this space, the report indicates that we are ‘moving on’ and making progress in this vital area. I’m really proud of the energy and belief that everyone puts into developing a more inclusive culture in Core; and the way that our 330 employees have looked out for each other over the last 18 months is a great testament to this.

Finally, as COO I am very pleased that, from day one, our infrastructure allowed everyone to work from home with full access and no interruption to our services, and I want to thank all my colleagues but especially those in IT who have played a starring role in the last 18 months.

How has your team adapted to the new way of working?

I think, on the surface, everybody has adapted well. We have all embraced the new ways of working remarkably quickly and got on with the job at hand. However, very few of us have had a chance yet to take a breather and take stock, such has been the never-ending aspect to this pandemic. When this finally ends and we embrace a hybrid way of working, I think we will all probably realise just how crazy this period has been and that we should pay more attention to our mental health, as we move on from this extraordinary time and on an ongoing basis.


What changes will you keep in place going into the future?

At the time of writing, we are in the process of upgrading the technology in our meeting rooms so that we can have a seamless experience between those physically present in the office and those working from elsewhere. Hybrid working is here to stay and will have a huge impact on how we work. We will be consolidating our full workforce into one building (from two), as we expect to have less people in the office than before.

With all that said, ours is a people business that thrives on interaction and collaboration. As a new parent, I will be embracing the move to hybrid, but my first choice will always be to collaborate with our teams in person, wherever possible. I cannot wait to leave the ‘box office’ at home behind and mix it up with our amazing people and clients in three dimensions again!

What brands or businesses do you admire most when you reflect on the last 12-15 months?

I mentioned our business strategy earlier, but our vision is broader. It is to make a positive difference to the world we live in through the work we do. We do this primarily by delivering on the visions of our clients, the shapers of society who help businesses to grow, our economy to thrive, good causes to make a difference and human behaviour to advance.

Throughout the pandemic our clients have made a positive difference. From the HSE who I mentioned earlier, to Three who dropped data limits and supplied free sim cards to schools to keep us all connected; to our clients in the financial sector including AIB and Ulster Bank who kept their doors open and the economy ticking over; to Musgrave and BWG who kept the shelves stocked throughout; to the National Lottery who continued to raise funds for good causes; to the IDA who continued to promote Ireland abroad; and to Vhi and the RSA whose focus on saving lives never faltered.
I’m most proud of the work done by our clients supported by our teams who continued to make a difference when it mattered most.



If you are a member who would like to feature in the In Conversation with series please send an email to