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Getting Angry about Social Media

Posted By Martin Thomas, author of The Financial Times Guide to Social Media Strategy, Tuesday 9 October 2018

Most books are written out of a sense of frustration or even anger.  You want to get something off your chest and writing 60,000+ words tends to do the trick.  What made me angry enough to write The Financial Times Guide to Social Media Strategy was the way in which social media practitioners appeared obsessed by the 3Ts of tactics, trivia and technology.  They were wasting time and money on tactical activities that were not aligned to real priorities and wondering why no one took them seriously in the boardroom.  Too much of their attention was given to often trivial outputs – cleverly-worded tweets, attention-grabbing posts, amusing videos, beautifully art-directed images, funny Snapchat filters – and not enough on measurable outcomes. Opportunities were being missed.  Bad ideas were slipping through the net, whilst good ideas were underfunded.  Lessons were not learned.  Risks were taken that were avoidable.

These faults were the inevitable consequence of the haphazard way in which social media emerged.  Most organisations began using social media without a clear strategic goal. Facebook pages and Twitter accounts were set up on an ad hoc basis, without necessarily taking the time to decide what they were for and how they would benefit different stakeholders.  Simply having a social media presence was deemed to be sufficient.  Few people were asking simple, strategic questions, such as why are we doing this?  How is this going to add value to our customers?  Does it meet or satisfy a real customer need?  Could we achieve our objectives more cost-effectively by doing something else?  

The issue has been exacerbated by what appears to be the new economy’s disregard for strategic planning. ‘Fail fast, fail often’ has become the mantra of Silicon Valley to justify an impatience with deliberation and careful analysis and a laissez-faire attitude to process and strategic rigour.  When the algorithm can provide a solution within nano-seconds, the human act of thinking through a problem can appear self-indulgent and the discipline of planning viewed as almost unnecessary.  Why bother trying to find the right answer when you can test every conceivable option until you find the solution?  There is also a tendency amongst many operating within the new economy to dismiss the received wisdom and practices of an earlier age, which includes what they consider an anachronistic focus on planning, processes and corporate governance.  It has led to an unhealthy focus on tactics and technology, rather than strategic thinking.      


As a direct consequence of this ad hoc, unstructured approach, most organisations lack robust systems and processes or the resources to make the most of social media and minimise its risks.  This means that:

  • Activities and investments are not aligned with organisational priorities or customer needs;
  • The mix of social media channels and accounts lacks any strategic logic;
  • There are ‘orphan’ corporate accounts, with pitifully few followers, from which the hosts have not posted or tweeted for months, if not years;
  • Results are likely to be inconsistent and difficult to measure;
  • Money and time is being wasted;
  • Team members are unclear about their specific responsibilities or objectives;
  • Ownership of the social media function is contested between different departments;
  • Valuable intelligence and information derived from social media is not being shared widely across the organisation;
  • Many managers are cynical or apathetic about the value of social media and consequently wary of making any significant investments.  This tends to create a vicious circle in which cynicism leads to under-investment and a lack of senior management focus, which means even poorer results and even further cynicism;
  • Organisations are unwittingly exposing themselves to unnecessary risks.


My book aims to put all of this right.  The Financial Times Guide to Social Media Strategy hopefully demonstrates the value of adopting a more strategic approach to deliver more effective campaigns, build more valuable networks, gather smarter business intelligence, enhance customer loyalty and transform corporate culture, while at the same time navigating the risks.  It is also an unashamed champion of the continued value of strategic thinking.  Strategy still matters, even in a dynamic, always-on, real time digital world.  If I can encourage even a few people involved in the use of social media to think, to analyse, to plan and to ask questions before embarking on any social media initiative or making any significant investments, my anger will not have been wasted.

social media strategy



The Financial Times Guide to Social Media Strategy: Boost your business, manage risk and develop your personal brand, published by FT Publishing International, is available on Amazon and from all good book stores.






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Taylor & Sexton shine in ONSIDE's most admired survey

Posted By ONSIDE, Wednesday 3 October 2018

John Trainor Onside

While Conor McGregor shapes up for a potential 2.5 million pay per views box office hit at UFC 229 fight card next Saturday, Irish boxer Katie Taylor has retained her status as Ireland’s Most Admired Sports Personality, according to leading sponsorship advisors ONSIDE.

Taylor, who will see her own box-office movie 'Katie' hit Irish cinemas on October 26, retained and extended her No.1 position in the latest ONSIDE STAR TRACK 2018, as last year’s No.2 McGregor dropped to 3rd position, behind Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane. 

According to John Trainor, Founder and CEO of ONSIDE: “Digging behind individual performances, Taylors dominance in appeal among the Irish female public is undisputed, while McGregor’s strong point remains among 18-24 year olds in Ireland, where he is the clear No.1 superstar.” Roy Keane has emerged as the sports star that Irish males admire most, fuelled in part by a strong support from the public in Munster.

Meanwhile, as rugby warms up for a mammoth 12 months ahead, including a testing battle with the All Blacks in the Guinness Series in November and a defence of the Six Nations Title in Q1 2019 as a run into the RWC2019 in Japan this time next year, Johnny Sexton was singled out by the latest ONSIDE research as the rugby star with the most momentum behind him at present.  Trainor notes: “While legend’s Brian O’Driscoll, Paul O’Connell and Ronan O’Gara all still score in the ONSIDE Top 10 Most Admired Sports stars of 2018, Johnny Sexton has shot up the leaderboard to join the past players in our latest Top 10. Sexton is poised to cement his positon alongside his fellow rugby legends and other stars like Sonia O’Sullivan and Padraig Harrington as Ireland’s most admired sports heroes for years to come”.

GAA personalities that scored highest in the ONSIDE STAR TRACK 2018 included a mix of players and management, with Stephen Cluxton the Top Most admired current Gaelic Football star and Joe Canning the Top Most Admired current Hurling star in 2018.  Also singled out by the public for admiration were Dublin Manager Jim Gavin and Kilkenny Manager Brian Cody.

Trainor notes: “2 in 3 of the Irish public could name a sports person they admired most this year, with an increase in the number and variety of different sports-related stars winning the Irish public’s hearts and minds rising to 58 – with 2 in 3 of these being GAA, soccer or Rugby stars.”

Outside of sport, The ONSIDE STAR TRACK 2018 also found that Ryan Tubridy & Gay Byrne now share the Top status as the most admired television or radio personality in Ireland, with Miriam O’Callaghan replacing Pat Kenny to make up this year’s Top 3. According to Trainor: “While Gay Byrne continues to win huge loyal admiration in Dublin and among males, Ryan Tubridys’ fan base is most noteworthy among the public in Connacht, among Irish females and among 18-24 year olds”.

While Conor McGregor continues to open the flood gates of earning potential through new moves such as his own Proper Twelve Irish Whiskey sponsoring every UFC event in which he fights, Trainor believes “there is plenty of room for stars like Katie Taylor, Johnny Sexton and some of Ireland’s Top Sports Managers across Rugby, soccer and GAA to front the right ambassadorial programmes with major brands in 2019”. Trainor anticipates more ground breaking approaches to include ambassadorial cross-overs in sports like golf and between sport and music platforms that provide the next generation formula for personality based business and brand building initiatives.”

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A Day in the Life of... Claire Looby, Marketing Manager at The Irish Times

Posted By The Marketing Institute, Wednesday 3 October 2018
Updated: Tuesday 2 October 2018
Claire Looby Irish Times 

The Marketing Institute: What does a Marketing Manager at The Irish Times do?

Claire Looby: We keep the plates spinning. From managing internal & external stakeholders to getting the best from agencies & all those who are involved in projects, the Irish Times Marketing Manager needs to be able to take in the big picture as well as keeping in mind how the cogs of a project work together. A sense of humour is vital, as well as a true, honest commitment to the brand and all colleagues throughout the organisation. Essentially, our work has to be all about the people who create and read our product.


What were your key career moves to get to your current role?

I took the scenic route. Previous to joining The Irish Times I worked with the Wexford Festival Opera in roles across the organisation, front of house and literally behind the scenes. That was a great grounding in being proactive and getting involved in whatever needed to be done so that the show could go on. In the media world it is essential to have that kind of flexibility and drive as things can develop and change quite quickly. I joined The Irish Times in the Advertising (now Media Solutions) department, and that gave me the opportunity to get to know the brand and staff really well. I am a firm believer in the value of experience and I would say that one of the most valuable tools in the Marketing Manager’s toolbox is the ability to access all their experience in order to drive a project to success.


What is the biggest challenge you face in your role?

Sometimes it seems that there just aren’t enough hours in the day – not that I’m advocating a 24-hour working day! When you’re working concurrently on a number of key projects, as we often are in The Irish Times, it can be a challenge to take a step back and monitor progress. Headspace is needed to make clear decisions and to see the opportunities that turn a good campaign into a great one; that takes effort in itself, but it’s well worth it.


What key skills do you need to be effective in your role?

There are common threads that weave through the role of Marketing Manager across a range of sectors, but some that are key in my current role are clear-headedness and energy to react in a positive way to new developments. We measure effectiveness through a number of tools, including reader feedback, sales and awards – of which we have won several. But to be effective as a team leader and key player the most important thing is to listen... to the team, to colleagues across the organisation, and to our readers. It’s all about having the radar switched on.


Describe a typical working day.

I’m sure other marketers will echo this – there’s no such thing as a ‘typical’ working day. As a team we make sure that we set time aside throughout the week for formal and informal catch-ups, so we’re all aware of the workflow and potential challenges that each member of the team is facing in the week. The scope of our activity is very wide, including large and small events, ATL campaigns and all-important digital campaigns. Planning is key, so we map out activity in the short- and long-term and that gives the team the necessary framework for all our activities, as well as the freedom to bring fresh ideas into play wherever we can.


What do you love most about your role?

This is one of the most interesting jobs in one of the most interesting organisations in the country. The phrase “there’s never a dull moment” doesn’t come close to describing a day in the life of The Irish Times. I have a unique opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the best and brightest thinkers in the country, and I really do believe that the company you keep raises your intellectual abilities. I am very fond of saying that the Marketing team here is the hardest-working team in the city, and I’m happy to stand by that.


Looking ahead, where might your career path lead to next?

The possibilities are endless. I have been very fortunate to have the opportunity to learn and grow within The Irish Times and the contacts I have made through various projects and campaigns are second to none. I am a huge fan of life-long learning and I think that the more opportunities we have to learn in our working day, the more fulfilled and productive we can be. I’m very excited to be part of the next stage in The Irish Times’ development as a media organisation. There really never is a dull moment.


To whom do you look for professional inspiration in your role?

I’m a bit like a magpie in my sources of inspiration and I am constantly learning from colleagues, team-mates, clients and readers. Over the years I have had the privilege to work with some impressive people within the organisation and they have helped to shape my thinking in so many ways. I think that it is incumbent on any marketer to source inspiration from many places, not just from our own discipline. The narrower the focus, the less we’ll learn, and we cannot afford to waste any opportunity to get an insight or nugget of learning as being open to these, regardless of the source, is something that turns a good marketer into a great one.


Read more Day in the Life features

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Meet the Speaker: Q&A with Ursula Morrish of Visit Cork

Posted By The Marketing Institute, Tuesday 2 October 2018

Ursule Morrish Pure Cork

Ursula Morrish will speak at our upcoming Marketing Breakfast in partnership with MCCP, where she will bring us through the journey of developing a new destination brand for Cork.

Ursula has over 25 years of experience working within creative marketing. She has worked for international creative agencies Imagination, WPP, Ogilvy, Fitch and GPJ. 
Strategic brand communication has been the core of her work with clients from top FTSE 100 companies to National and Local governments. Ursula has experience of working across key industry sectors in Europe, USA, Japan, Korea and China.
In her role as Destination Manager, Visit Cork she achieved a unanimous sign off for the new Cork destination brand by managing complex stakeholder expectations and working collaboratively with a creative design agency.

What would you consider as some key career highlights?

  • Delivering a new destination brand for my home city, Cork
  • My role as Producer for the Samsung, Mysterious Circles global brand campaign for the 2014 World Cup. The campaign took place in 3 continents, using multiple communication platforms. Most challenging was delivering the brief to project images on Sugar Loaf Mountain, Christ the Redeemer and other mountains in Rio. In addition, co-ordinating screenings at Times Square and Piccadilly circus, creating ‘crop circles’ and ‘alien appearances’ at key soccer games in Europe.
  • Working with Colin Firth and Livia Giuggioli on Eco-Age Green Carpet Fashion Initiatives.


What are the main challenges facing the Irish Tourism industry at the moment?

  • Decline in demand from Britain
  • Decline in destination marketing budgets which could severely impact on destination awareness in several key markets.
  • Ensuring that the kind of tourism we establish is good for our visitors and is also positive for our own local communities and our exceptional natural environment.
  • How to create experiences for our visitors that are both sustainable as well as profitable.


What advice would you give your 25-year old self?

  • Don’t hesitate to have a mentor or coach to help you in your career.
  • Go with your creative instinct and take the risk.


Looking towards the next 12 months, what do you hope to achieve?

  • Establish a Creative Industry cluster for Cork.
  • Complete an NLP course.


Your favourite recent marketing campaign?

  • St Patricks Day, Global Greening initiative from Tourism Ireland – simple and cost effective
  • #MeToo – for creating a social movement and giving everyone a voice

One reason we should attend The Marketing Breakfast Series in partnership with MCCP with you?

  • The MII & MCCP Breakfast series is time well spent invigorating your mind, body and, perhaps, even your spirit. 

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A Day in the Life of… Niamh O’Driscoll, Senior Manager for Brand, Marketing & Communications at Virgin Media

Posted By The Marketing Institute, Wednesday 19 September 2018
Updated: Tuesday 18 September 2018

Niamh O'Driscoll Virgin Media

The Marketing Institute: What does a Senior Manager for Brand, Marketing & Communications at Virgin Media do?
Niamh O’Driscoll: As Senior Manager for Brand, Marketing & Communications I head up the areas of strategic brand management, Consumer Insights and all ATL and sponsorship management activity. I have a fantastically brilliant team and we are responsible in large part for executing the marketing plans that drive the brand and in turn the commercial goals of the business.


What were your key career moves to get to your current role? 

A lifetime in telco marketing! I’ve been a marketer in the Telco space for most of my career, first with Meteor where I spent over 7 years as Marketing Communications Manager and then with O2 where I worked as a Marketing Consultant on the Priority Moments loyalty program. In 2014 I moved to UPC and the following year we rebranded to Virgin Media. Such exciting times. I am a year into my current role at Virgin Media.

What is the biggest challenge you face in your role? 

The biggest challenge is making sure we are focused on key priorities that will drive the brand and our business. We are a small team working on a world renowned brand that is just three years old in the Irish market. I always feel that marketing presents never ending possibilities but it’s important to focus and place our bets on the activities backed by consumer insight that will best drive our objectives. Sometimes less done well is more!

What key skills do you need to be effective in your role? 

It’s really important to be able to see the bigger strategic picture, to be thinking well ahead. Planning and organisational skills are key as well as bringing people on the journey to align objectives, goals and plans and get everyone moving in the same direction including our agencies who are an extension of our team.

Describe a typical working day. 

It’s a bit of a cliché but no two days are the same. It’s probably why I enjoy it so much. Every day is a combination of meetings with my team, our media and creative agencies and cross functional meetings with colleagues from other departments. Yesterday I started my day with a series of meetings on cross promotional activities with our Virgin Media Television colleagues and ended my day with the launch event of our partnership with the Dublin International Film festival and a star studded red carpet, not an everyday occurrence, but it’s the variety which keeps things interesting.

What do you love most about your role? 

I love seeing a marketing strategy and plan backed by sound thinking and insight come all the way through to a successful campaign that drives the numbers! I love being surrounded by talented people and learning from them every day. I love working for a strong brand that stands for something and has purpose.


Looking ahead, where might your career path lead to next? 

I am passionate about brands and have been led by my interest in brand and marketing. It’s important to work on something that matters and that you feel will make a difference. It’s really important to me to like getting up to go into work every day and working with colleagues who inspire you on a daily basis. Sometimes when you work on what interests you, your career path finds you.

To whom do you look for professional inspiration in your role? 

I really believe in mentorship. I’ve had a few key people who have looked after me in my career in terms of guidance, advice and mentorship. I hope to do the same for others. Also I have an excellent team and I learn from each and every one of them every day.

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