Friday, February 27, 2009

4FM - Ireland's newest radio station - launch in Dublin today

Another day, another event. This time it's not one I had even known about but apparently there's a new Radio Station in Ireland launching called 4FM.

4FM is Ireland’s new multi-city radio station, broadcasting to counties Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Clare.

The station is built on four key programme elements - music, entertainment, news and talk.
I literally found out about this from the lobby of our building, introduced myself and was invited up for a look.

Wandering around the new studios, conveniently located in the same building as we are, it's obvious that the team behind this have put some serious thought and money into how it's going to be run.

Boasting such names as Dr Mary Redmond as Chairperson and backers including Fox Radio, Thomas Crosbie Holdings, The Irish Times, Vienna Investments and Bay Broadcasting, they have spared little expense in kitting out an entire floor with two studios, meeting rooms, lots of office space and a view from the balcony to envy.

Some of the presenters already signed up are Derek Davis (Sunday programme), Gareth O' Callaghan (weekday breakfast show), Jimmy Greeley (weekday music show), Damien Kiberd ("issues of the day"), Brian McColl (afternoon music), Gerry Stevens (the best of the 60s and 70s), Tom McGurk (Drivetime news) and a host of others, including Bill Hughes doing a show on the music from Broadway and the West End.

The management team is Chief Executive Martin Block, co-founder of FM104 and Lite FM, Programme Director Al Dunne, formerly of Atlantic 252 and Lite FM, Finance director Howard Block, co-founder of Lite FM and Dave Hammond, the Sales and Marketing Director and, from talking to him, seems a very approachable guy indeed.
We guarantee to play the richest mix of music you’ll hear on the radio, as well as a unique blend of programming with upbeat music truly at its heart.

With a repertoire covering more than 50 years, 4FM plays the widest selection of music on the radio - from classic and mainstream songs to a specialist portfolio including jazz, soul, rock ‘n’ roll, standards, music from the movies and musicals, as well as motown, MOR and soft ballads.
They've got the ways people in Clare, Cork city and county, Dublin city and county (which includes Naas on their site for some reason), Galway city and county and Limerick up on their website as well as the promise that listening live on the web is coming soon.

It's going to be an interesting one. Wonder if they need any contributors...

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The one thing I don't like about my new office

photo of buttons in the office elevator; there's a button for floors -2, 0, 2, 3 and 4 but no -1 or 1

I just want to know why there's no entrance to the first floor or basement. I want to know what happens there.

Dubliners, have you been hugged by Siobhan yet?

That there is the lovely Siobhan from the Dublin 98 morning crew.

She's in Marks and Spencers on Grafton Street, Dublin today as part of the Dublin Hugathon, a world record attempt to beat the current record for most hugs in 11 hours - she has to hug over 4,315 people to do so.

UPDATE: 13:45 - Siobhan has hugged over 2,650 people already!

The early morning queues helped her do so.

It's all in aid of the 98 Care4Kids Radiothon, which is running on March 6th and 7th. Over the two days 98’s presenters and staff focus solely on 98’s Care4Kids Radiothon to raise money for the three Children’s hospitals - National Children’s Hospital Tallaght, Temple Street University Hospital and Crumlin Children’s Hospital.

Over the past two years we broadcasted live from all three children’s hospitals, airing many interviews with the sick children, their parents and hospital staff. 98’s listeners got a real feel of what it's like to be a sick kid or parent and what they deal with everyday, as well as heart wrenching stories from hospital staff that look after and treat the kids daily.

Apart from the on-air success, over the past two years 98’s Care4Kids Radiothon has raised over €1 million. It was done through phone & text pledges, auctions and fun in the work place with jersey and pyjama days, where staff got involved by wearing their favourite sports shirt and pyjamas at work and donating money.
You know me, happy to give a hand (or a hug) for charity - in fact I think I got three :)

She gives a great hug. She's down there until 7pm tonight and you can follow her on the 98 website and over on If you're in the area, give some money, get a hug!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Dirty words in sign language video

This summary is not available. Please click here to view the post.

@IBA09 on Twitter - big fat leak liar FAIL

Sitting in the hotel room on Saturday, finalising the video sheet for Rick, getting ready for the evening, my phone flashes. Congratulations, knew you'd do it! I read the message. A couple of emails followed followed by a Twitter DM or two. What the hell? Then I'm being PM'd on Boards as well. Everyone saying 'Congrats for winning best Blog Post' - a good eight hours before the results were due out.

Somebody on Twitter, under the identity of @IBA09 claimed to have leaked the results of the Blog Awards a good few hours before the awards. Damien swooped in quickly to quell the rumours with a tweet to the community which was quickly spread from person to person.

Please RT: Winners of the Blog Awards will be announced by people you already know and on at 10pm ignore @iba09 #iba09
Ha ha, a good joke, right? Well, yes, except for people like my folks who phoned me in high hopes that what they'd got a call about from a well-meaning relative online was true. As if I didn't have enough to do, I had to explain to them that no, it wasn't true and in all likelihood wouldn't be. I had no expectations.

Just how wrong was @iba09? This wrong:

Best Popculture Blog

They predicted: Rick O' Shea
Actually won: The lovely Raptureponies

Best Blog from a Journalist

They predicted: Adam Maguire
Actually won: Markham Nolan -

Best Food/Drink Blog

They predicted: Cheap Eats
Actually won: The Daily Spud

Best Fashion Blog

They predicted: The Sexy Pedestrian
Actually won:

Best Arts and Culture Blog

They predicted: The Asylum
Actually won: Pursued by a Bear

Best Political Blog

They predicted:
Actually won: Cedar Lounge

Best Group Blog

They predicted:
Actually won:

Best Use of the Irish Language in a Blog

They predicted: Gaelgannaire
Actually won: iGaeilge

Best Technology Blog/Blogger

They predicted: Pat Phelan
Actually won: Justin Mason -

Best Sport and Recreation Blog

They predicted: Worldwide Cycles
Actually won: The Kop Blog

Best News/Current Affairs Blog

They predicted: Limerick Blogger
Actually won: Suzy Byrne - Maman Poulet

Best Newcomer

They predicted: Trust Tommy
Actually won: Trust Tommy

First one they got correct all evening.

Best Blog of a Business

They predicted: Blacknight
Actually won: The Blacknight blog

Best Music Blog

They predicted: State
Actually won: NIaller9

Best Personal Blog

They predicted: Grannymar
Actually won: Annie Rhiannon

Best Humour Blog

They predicted: Twenty Major
Actually won: The Swearing Lady at Arse End of Ireland

Best Photo Blog

They predicted: Gingerpixel
Actually won: Ryan Whalley -

Best Blog Post

They predicted: Me
Actually won: K8 the Gr8 - the secret fire - who, as people know, I'd predicted from the start.

Two out of 18. EPIC FAIL. Wouldn't have liked to have put a bet down with them!

Okay so it's a bit of fun, a laugh and sure no one takes it seriously, right? Actually it's also damn inconvenient to have to try to explain to friends and family that no, it's just someone who should have thought more and given a damn about the people there, both nominees and supporters, there or not, about the level of organisation that goes into something like the awards and how it's the stupid things like that that can spread so quickly around that to some, they become truth. Not all people are in on the joke. Not all people are laughing.

As Damien said:

Petty and pretty stupid. Fuckwits.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Irish Blog Awards 2009 category intro videos

It started with a drunken conversation set to Lou Reed's Perfect Day and culminated in two weeks of late nights, of stress, of misunderstandings and communication breakdowns, of sitting in the wrong Starbucks, filming scenes with streetwalkers and of overwhelming enthusiasm, commitment and the power of friends collaborating with a shared vision to give something a go and see how we went on.

In short, the next time I have an idea, people, just say no.

When the idea hit us at Halloween to film something for the Blog Awards this year, it ascended from a simple parody video to doing all the intro videos for each category. A quick check with Damien in early November confirmed he'd like to see something and so we decided to look at doing something. What, we weren't sure but we knew it would involve bloggers, a camera and a bit of creative craic.

With 20 categories and an intro videos to do we had a lot of work ahead of us. We started discussing seriously with intent following the categories being announced on January 6, but, of course, typical me left it until February 7 to act on my promise and get the necessary energy and commitment into play to make this happen.

Since then the incredible commitment and support that Darren and I (because these are very much a result of our collaboration) have received from Maxi Cane, Niamh, Lottie and Anthony - the core video creation team - and all those involved has been both humbling and enthusing.

To be honest we didn't know if we could do them. We shot them with no budget, no fancy equipment (often just the video settings on a digital camera) and with proper planning on my part they could possibly have been better, but they worked for the most part and it's been a great journey to shoot and edit all videos in preparation for the award ceremony last night.

Again, to labour the point almost, I'm in awe of Darren who not only filmed some but edited all of the videos to an extremely high quality and professional standard. They could not have happened without him.

Of course there are a lot of people to thank - like the Awards themselves we couldn't have done it without them. So, without much further ado, the category intro videos for the 2009 Irish Blog Awards.

A welcome from the Gardiner Street Gospel Choir:

A huge thank you to musical director Aidan Greene, to Joerg, James and all in the choir for doing this for us - at one day's notice! You can find the choir on YouTube here, on Facebook here and also on Twitter.

They perform in Francis Xavier Church on Gardiner Street in Dublin 1 every Sunday at 7.30pm. Having seen them perform at the Dublin City Soul Festival and other events, I was sure they'd give a great performance - and they didn't fail to deliver.

Best Popculture intro: Maxi Cane and I prank call Grandad

In an attempt to parody the Ross/Brand call to Andrew Sachs, Maxi Cane came up with the idea to prank call Grandad. Cue a trip out to Headrambles Manor to film himself - and meet Herself and the fiercesome Sandy, a late night recording session with Maxi over at ours and lots of photo editing by Niamh.

Due to time constraints we couldn't show the fuller, filthier version - that will come later - but it got a great reaction on the night. Thanks to Grandad, Maxi and K8 :)

Best Blog from a Journalist intro: What are people saying?

Originally conceived as a teaser video, this became the intro for the journalist category - primarily because repeat attempts to reach John Waters failed - though wouldn't that have been cool? Shot on February 18 in Temple Bar by Niamh and Natalie and at The Attic Studio, my thanks to everyone who participated and to Darren for editing the fantastic final cut.

Best Food/Drink Blog - 2 girls, 1 cup - Grannymar's reaction

What would it take to shock Grannymar? Well, a video involving a cup, the National Lottie and Raptureponies did the job. We filmed Grannymar at her home and the ladies at the Dublin Twestival. Shot by Niamh and Darren and edited by himself. Funny enough, Grannymar wasn't watching the original video at all, promise!

Best Arts and Culture Blog - Rory Nolan at the Abbey Theatre

When repeated calls to Minister for Arts and Culture, Martin Cullen TD failed (no, seriously!), David from Dublin's Abbey Theatre stepped in and saved the day by arranging Rory Nolan, who previously played Ross O' Carroll Kelly in a recent production of Days of the Celtic Tiger and is currently preparing for a role in the upcoming Comedy of Errors to introduce the best Arts and Culture blog. "A focking blog?"

Best Political Blog - from

I've always loved the Langerland videos, so when Langerland's Colm said 'use what you like' for the Irish Blog Awards, we opted for something identifiable but funny. Clips are taken from their Dáil Reshuffled video. See more Langerland on YouTube here.

Best Group Blog - the Craic Pack and audience

Possibly one of the videos where you'd have to have been there just to see how much fun it was to shoot and how much the audience was involved in the craic and fun, but The Craic Pack gave a great sketch for us to film for this category. Resident improv group at the Bankers, Dublin, you can see them every Thursday and Friday. They're extremely versatile and very, very funny.

Best Use of the Irish Language in a Blog - RTÉ's Bláthnaid flips out

Possibly one of the loveliest people we worked with (no offence to anyone else), when I approached Bláthnaid Ní Chofaigh of RTÉ's Afternoon Show to ask if she'd consider shooting, she said yes, not knowing fully what she was getting into at the start!

A whirlwind visit to RTÉ, a couple of moments free to shoot in her hectic schedule and this is the result. Not quite a Christian Bale flip out but funny nonetheless.

Best Technology Blog/Blogger - introduced by The Internet's Ben Kenealy

When granted an audience with the Internet's Ben Kenealy, you're unlikely to recover refuse. Here he is introducing the Best Technology Blogger/Blog. Pity about those damn technical problems that traditionally plague the awards, eh?

Best Sports and Recreation Blog - Kenny Egan

Nine times Irish Champion Kenny Egan finds out from his friend Stephen that he hasn't been nominated for an Irish Blog Award. Filmed by Darren at the National Stadium, we spent a good hour with Kenny watching him train and box in preparation for his games. The high quality version is brilliant. Plenty of outtakes from this one too.

Best News/Current Affairs Blog - Dermot and Dave from Dublin's 98 morning crew

A quick tweet to Dave from Dublin's 98 Morning Crew, a visit to the studios and a case of Dave being slightly mistaken over his blog resulted in this hilarious video. Don't forget to vote for the crew in the Meteor Awards - just click here! You can vote for Rick here.

Best Specialist Blog - a word from Vulture Private Investigators

The lads over at Vultures Private Investigators are considering getting a blog. Tennyson thinks it's a great idea but McGrain and Vultour seem unconvinced. Can Jack Street convince them otherwise?

A huge thanks to Ross, John, Sean and David for taking time out of a hectic shooting schedule to do this for us. Head over and see their most recent episode - it's class.

Best blog of a business - "Are you looking for business?"

This is my favourite video and Darren has done an amazing job of taking 48 minutes footage down to less than a minute. Featuring our own Anto (do you know him?) and the lovely Sarah Mulligan, this was shot on Thursday evening. Can't wait to see the rest of the footage!

Best music blog - would you trust this drumming gorilla?

With help from Ronan for the great costume hire from the Costume Shop, Ireland's own Trust Tommy, winner of the best newcomer award at the 2009 Irish Blog Awards treats us to a parody of the Cadbury's Gorilla ad. Excellent drumming from Tommy and video editing from John!

Best Personal Blog - getting personal with Ben

He's back and rescued from the Blue Screen of Death. It's Ben again.

Best Humour Blog - Jason Byrne tries a joke

We interrupted Jason at a wrap party the same night and same venue as the Dublin Twestival, he graciously agreed to shoot a scene and there's the result. Thanks Jason!

Best Photo Blog - who can you see?

Our final video of the evening, spectacularly photoshopped by Lottie and Phil.

A HUGE THANK YOU to Damien for the opportunity and taking a chance on us - hope you were happy, boss! Thanks also to Brian Greene for helping with sound, Anthony for the technical help, to everyone who got involved and gave time and energy to the videos and especially to the main core team who stuck with it and made it a success.

Darren, who edited the videos over the past week deserves any praise you wish to throw this way.

Expect the outtakes soon. God knows there's some good ones!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

185 blogs walk into a bar...

There's some improv challenge! The Craic Pack, resident improv group at the Bankers in Dublin have to come up with the responses to a barman refusing to serve 185 blogs (or bloggers) who walk into a bar... appoint new community managers is the largest community website in Ireland with nearly 200,000 members and 1.35 million unique visitors per month. is ten years old this year - having started out as a Quake gamers forum - and is now one of Ireland's largest websites. In September 2008 they had over 1.7 million unique visitors. (ABC Electronic Audit Figures)

From their job advertisement in December 2008:

Every day thousands of Irish people come onto to read content, to voice their opinion, to place ads, to interact with their friends, to buy items, to blog, to chat, to engage with other of similar niche interests etc.

We are recruiting our first full-time community manager to make sure that all these daily activities happen smoothly and that members are satisfied with the service.

We are looking for logical thinkers with the ability to facilitate community discussion with fairness and impartiality. This is a unique opportunity to work with the most fantastic web community in Ireland.

What are we looking for?
  • Expert experience in working in a online community environment
  • A mature, level headed, pragmatic person
  • Expert communications and facilitation skills
  • A member would be the icing on the cake
Yesterday evening it was announced that the position had been filled. Tom Murphy, co-founder of announced the appointment to the board's senior moderators and moderators in a frank but positive post. He explained the origin of the role and his personal thoughts on what the appointment could mean for the site:
We've finished the process of hiring our Community Manager position which has been a long and unexpectedly difficult road. We had a flood of CV's for the position of Community Manager and our understanding of what we wanted changed... As we got into the process we realised we wanted the Swiss Army Knife of employees. The list of requirements was laughably long and impossible to find in a single person...

... the ComMans primary modus operandi will be the exception handling. Supporting the Smods/Mods with official feedback on the tricky stuff when requested. Also to work on the stuff we all want to see, the aspirational stuff, the stuff we'll just never get done because we are focused on fixing day to day problems. It's time we started looking at the month to month things too. The things that we all want to see but aren’t screaming, on fire or trying to sue us.

They are here to strengthen that chain of communication and and provide a certain guaranteed level of official response. They will operate outside the normal run of the mill which is working very well up to and including the SMods. Their job will be more a "special circumstances" response team.
In a move previously unconsidered to the team, they decided to take the original position and divide it between two people - one, a respected member of Boards who has been there for ten years and is known by many in his capacity of Senior Moderator and social event organiser.

The appointment of Davitt Waldron (Dav) is both an acknowledgement of the wealth of experience and depth of knowledge he has, plus a sign to both mods and Smods who do the job voluntarily that the team is committed to supporting their roles and making their work easier.

The other person - a fresh eye on with a primary objective to ask and understand why things are done the way they are and to see if processes can be changed, improved or tightened to the benefit of all involved is me. Woo! :)


Before applying for the role in early January and during the interview process I'd been giving a lot of thought to why I felt I should apply. While many of the requirements did apply to me
What type of a person are you?
  • You really enjoy helping others achieve their aims
  • You are not quick to judge but are steadfast in your ethics and fairness
  • You understand that everyone is different and their opinion is exactly that
the thought of being answerable to an active community - one I wasn't a member of - of over 55,000 members weekly, never mind the management team was somewhat daunting.

In fairness though I do have considerable online community management experience, beginning in 1999 with, continuing through over three years with in Ireland and the UK and on to in Spain and then to advising

Add to this the personal-community aspect of maintaining a blog, the editing and brand guardianship with roles at Vodafone Live! and Barretstown and even the Customer Service and process configuration aspects of UCI, Xtra-vision and subsequent roles, I'd imagine all this experience gives me, as I said in a previous post, a fairly unique skillset to apply to such a role.

While I'm joining an established site and community, the actual company structure is quite compact. Dav and I as community managers will be working with Ross as lead developer, Tom and the other founders as advisors with technical staff joining as well. This actually gives us scope to expand our roles as necessary without the limitation of existing legacy practices taking precedence.

It's a role I'm looking forward to starting. Though I've only met Dav and Tom the once so far, their enthusiasm, passion and commitment to boards bodes well while their willingness to take seriously into consideration my questions, suggestions and based-on-intuition-more-than-boards-experience is an indication of how much potential there could be to ensure our roles reach their maximum effect.

It's funny - I went from forums to blogs and now back to forums. It almost certainly means I won't be blogging as much, but the possible content, ideas and conversations prompted and provoked by this new-to-me community is also a treasure trove I look forward to exploring.

Reaction from the moderators has been extremely enthusing so far. While questions have been asked as to what we'll be doing, the overwhelming sense is one of "Cool, let's see what will happen." Something I'm looking forward to finding out too.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Talking to PR people about blogging

My reservations are that you can send stuff to bloggers and then have it ripped apart! This doesn't happen with traditional media as unless they are hugely passionate about wanting to rip apart what you have sent them they won't bother doing it as they don't have a lot of column inches at their disposal, whereas bloggers have the freedom and space to write what they like to any extent that they want to...

I appreciate that this is the real value of blogs but it's not fun to face down a client who's spending money with you explaining why their product/service/event is the ridicule of the online community! This hasn't happened us (yet, touch wood!) but I'm sure it will and I've seen it happen to others!

There's also this impression that PR people are all pushy blonde bimbos who have surgically attached mobiles to their ears and carry clipboards and we aren't ALL like that - though I would agree that some are. I think that PR people feel that bloggers are unapproachable in many cases so it's interesting to hear that it's the bloggers who are asking how both parties can connect. I'm delighted to hear this!
Aileen Galvin, Director/Business, entertainment | architects

The second Collision course - a meeting of Irish PR people and bloggers takes place tonight.
We’re going to get the PR and Digital Marketing people to mix more with the bloggers and to share their experiences during the time we have. We’ll split into three groups... each will be given a campaign to work on and present their ideas. The purpose is to cross-train/cross-share their opinions and insights and in doing so, get to know each other even more.
Prompted by Emily Tully's recent post on Online Press Releases, how do you like yours?, where she asked bloggers how they'd like to receive information from PR people, I contacted some friends and contacts in PR, events and marketing that I know to ask them questions inspired by those Damien raised in his summation of the first Collision course:
  • Could bloggers help you spread the word about your particular events, clients or promotions and are you interested in them doing so?

  • How should a blogger interested in doing so go about contacting you or your clients for more information?

The replies I've received have been as follows:

Cillian Barry, Owner, Feep Marketing
Answer: Online PR is becoming a must have marketing discipline for brands but there are many deep and dangerous pitfalls so it needs to be approached with some caution. Bloggers, better than most, understand the dynamics of online communications and can therefore provide a useful service to brands looking to enter this space.

As with all things relevance helps, just take the time to approach each person individually whether you are a blogger approaching an agency or brand or an agency or brand approaching a blogger

Julie Momboisse, Communication Executive & Audience Development,
Temple Bar Cultural Trust
Answer: We organise lots of cultural events during the year. If you attend a TBCT event you will discover a whole different world in the heart of Dublin’s city centre: outdoor markets, concerts, circus, street spectacle, fire artists, comedians, magicians, musicians, movies, painters, sculptors, opera, public artworks, workshops, talks and walks.

We know that more and more people find out about our events online. We strongly believe that people's habits are changing and that we need to take a step further and engage with the blogging community. In that sense, bloggers can help us spreading the words about our events but also, getting closer to our audiences’ expectations.

Answer: If you blog, are interested in what we do and want to share it with your readers, please get in touch! You can contact me through our blog; send me an e-mail at or even call into the Temple Bar Cultural Information Centre - it’s right in the heart of Temple Bar at 12 East Essex Street.

Mark Duckenfield, founder, Emergent Events and Street Performance World Championship
It's surprising how many people hear about the festival through blogs to the degree that a good few people are coming to the Championship from the UK this year directly because of them.

I have just done a quick search in the festival inbox and there are 257 results from 77 people. Now that's huge especially considering that we have never have used blogs...

You might think that 77 from a festival of 100,000 is not that big... but you have to remember that not everybody will have mailed us. It would be great to a way of figuring out how many people come to the event because of blogs.

I honestly do wish that I had more time to concentrate on things like a blog, Bebo and Myspace... Our office is small, as you know, it really is only Conor and me and any of those things takes up a huge amount of time. I tried to manage the Bebo page in the first year but I just didn't have the time... my brother tried to do it in the second year (but he is 17 with the attention span of a gnat). We know that we can utilise them all better this year... it is just figuring out how. If you have any suggestions, I would love to hear them.

As a final note, I'm sure that you are aware of the Event Guide weekly email. It really good, and really effective... but... I think that it is too unstructured. Its just too long. I love the idea of it but I cant see thousands of people reading through a mail that size. I wonder if the blogging world could help that out.

Emma Kytzia, PR & Communications Exec, National College of Ireland
Absolutely, National College of Ireland would be delighted for bloggers to help spread the word about the college, our full and part-time courses, our open days and our public events.

We're a little unsure how to go about approaching other bloggers though, and would be uncertain as to the reaction we'd receive.

Shauneen Armstrong, Press Officer at The Labour Party

The basic answer to your question is yes. We do engage with bloggers, many are on our mailing lists, they have been invited to our events including conferences. In addition we make as many things available online as possible.

Our last conference was streamed live on the internet, the second year in a row that we have done that. Also through our Flickr and You Tube sites not only are we engaging with the people who take the time to comment but we are also providing content for people's sites if they wish to use it.

In addition to using Twitter to point people to different things that we are doing; highlighting campaigns and engaging with those have followed us, we have also used the site to give followers sneak peaks of various materials, and events that are not yet publicised. More recently we have had new members recruited through Twitter.

From what I'm seeing in both the events and charity section, there's a huge need and drive to understand and embrace the online medium. I found the first Collision course extremely interesting as a starting point of dialogue between PR professionals and bloggers and am sure the second will be even more involving.

I contributed yesterday to a seminar for charities, communities and voluntary organisations. Organised by The Wheel, this Social Media for Charities workshop introduced the 40+ people there to the potential of blogs, social networks and engaging with people online.

Nathalie McDermott from On Road Media, a London-based social enterprise that trains marginalised groups and organisations in podcasting, video blogging and social networks spoke to respresentatives from groups as diverse as the Ballyfermot Advocacy Service to Barnardos to the Catholic Institute for Deaf People to the Irish Georgian Society, Samaritans Ireland and the National Concert hall on how best to get their message across.

It was interesting, informative and highlighted the need for courses such as these, to educate and explain in a non judgemental, no-question-is-stupid, we-all-had-to-start-somewhere kind of way. From what I've seen even since yesterday, there was positive reaction and action, with many of the organisations setting up Twitter accounts yesterday afternoon. A small step but one in the right direction.

I was also invited recently to the launch of the St Patrick's Day Festival 2009, to the launch of the 2009 Temple Bar programme, to talk to the Abbey Theatre about their events and am aware of other events this year looking to blog, to talk to bloggers engage with the online community. The pre-launch event for one of Ireland's largest companies that was on last night confirmed how it's not just the "new, young and hip" brands, companies or services who are engaging, but older, established businesses who are taking a new look at the way they do things.

While I can offer absolutely no professional advice on the whole PR/blogger communications, I can say based on personal experience of having blogged about so many events that the more information I get, the better able I will be to make the decision about whether I'll blog about something. A press-release is only a small part - any official photos, previews of ads, programmes, videos or contact details - basically anything that will help me write a post is appreciated. There's no guarantee that I will use it, but if it's something or someone that I'm interested in and I believe other people will be too, then chances are that I'll post it.

All you can do is ask nicely. It's what I do and am always positively surprised by the result.

Monday, February 16, 2009

What's working is hard work and high standards

Last Thursday night I was asked by someone I met for the first time how I do it. How I "seem to have just stepped into blogging fully formed, what my background was, it must be something to do with that, is it?" - his words, not mine. As if there was a different secret or method other than I sit at the keyboard and type a lot.

It made an impact though and while I completely fluffed the answer, through tiredness from Twestival as much as sheer embarrassment, saying something like "Ah just check my LinkedIn", I have spent a lot of time since thinking about it. Yesterday then I read Niall Harbison's post about happiness and that spurred another lot of navel-gazing contemplation for me.

Teencamp Ireland earlier this year was an eye-opener for me. "Ah yeah, I've been building websites for the last three years, I taught myself PHP and JAVA and now I'm learning C++, I've got six blogs, seven clients and, oh yeah, I'm doing the junior cert next year".

Meeting young entrepreneurs like David Doran (19) and Steven Troughton-Smith (20) in particular was encouraging but also slightly depressing. For a traditional "the older you get, the more successful you'll be" thinker like me, this whole awareness of so many younger people to look up to has been quite the revelation.

Ken McGuire (25), Andy McMillan (24 I think), Robin Blandford (25), Eoghan McCabe (25), Patrick and John Collison (20 and 18) with Tommy (15) snapping at their heels, Cian McMahon (17 I think), Marie Boran (24 I think), Gav Reilly (22), David Maybury (24) and Phil O Kane (23) are all on my inspired-by-professionally and to-be-admired list, never mind Jon Favreau, Barack Obama's speech writer at 27. It's not their "youth" I admire as much as the hard graft they continually put into what they do and how they do it that I respect most of all.

From the Irish Times. Steven Stroughton-Smith (20) Ireland’s most successful software developer for Apple’s iPhone, generating revenues of up to $1,000 a day. Bastid.

Here I am at 30, with as much willingness to get out there and do what is I do but always running uphill and seeing obstacles rather than opportunity at every corner. How does someone get there, be successful, be out there and promoting and organising and work and earning and doing?

Niall's post in particular made me stop and take count. Among other things in the past week he has:

  • launched 2 sites - Lookandtaste and Twecipe which have got a lot of media coverage
  • seen his blog have its biggest week ever and mentioned on front page of Irish Times
  • been featured in the Sunday Times
  • done a few radio interviews and cooked on the telly
  • cooked for 750 people at the London Twestival
  • met some big wigs from Apple who love their iPhone app
and more - all of which are very big wins by any standards. Yet, as Niall says, he's not happy. "I don’t know how to explain it but after what was such a great week I feel totally and utterly devoid of any joy or sense of achievement and can only wonder why it wasn’t more? I look at everything form this week and think it was OK but that mostly I have failed."

I can understand that - he puts in so much work to what he does and his standards are very high. That's the reason for his success, as it is for most people. The comments on the post give a lot of great advice and replies for Niall. I'm strongly reminded of Johnny Beirne's tweet from the Belfast Unconvention, as per this post title - what's working is hard work. But with hard work comes high standards and a desire to do bigger, better, more.

Darren rang me this morning about a project we've both been working hard on. It's no world changing project, but it's something me and him are both excited about and something we've got a huge amount of support in doing. It's a risk we took. This morning though I emailed someone, cc'ing Byrne, saying "Well, you know, I think it's good but it's probably not and you'll actually probably hate it and why wouldn't you because let's face it, I'm involved and so it's just me seeing through the rose-tinted "Ah isn't everything great" glasses. So actually it's shite."

Darren was not happy with me. He wasn't angry because I was 'insulting' his work, he was frustrated because I wasn't happy with my own. As featured on the Contrast blog recently, I wasn't celebrating my victories. I'm doing what I always do. Look for the improvements.

But what is it that I do? Seriously, it's always a question I struggled with answering until Friday morning when I realised what I should have said in my response. It was almost a revelation to me, despite the absolutely obvious. It's about people. I work hard. I work damn hard.


Part of people's frustrations with me in any employment situation can often be that I'm a pernickity perfectionist. I'm as paranoid about commas as I am about content, focus on the words in the message as well as the meaning, as concerned with the right graphic on a site as the code behind it. The word its written as it's, the misspelling of a shop notice, a word used in the wrong context - all nails on a blackboard for me.

I have delayed campaigns to get things absolutely right, I have annoyed clients and account managers by pointing out errors and I've been known to read a blog post and drop the blogger a line to point out a mistake, when in fact I should just step away. I am, however, far more judgemental about myself and my own work than anyone else and generally, every time I've applied the precision and the effort - be it a campaign, an event or a conversation, the results have exceeded anyone's expectations.

With the progression of my career and its successes and failures I've often thought my fails overshadow the mild successes, no matter what I try. Leaving Cert (should have done better) Student ("study break" = dropped out), student priest (left ("failed"?), call centre worker (promoted), marketing assistant with national newspaper (quit), cinema manager (headhunted), video store manager (fired), content editor to member services manager (major win but still let go), charity communications editor (couldn't be kept on), content editor with travel website (glad to leave), gambling member services person (again, glad to leave), mobile portal editor with National Phone company (headhunted), blogger with Insurance company (left due to illness). A very varied career but it's not been without its costs to both confidence and personal life. But still, I can say I've tried.

Shylock, villain though he was, gave me one of my favourite quotes "The villany you teach me, I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction." I'm not going to stop trying.


With this blog it has been a matter of just giving it a go. I've taken whatever opportunity I can to find something interesting, but not just because of the blogging. I've been volunteering at events and charities for years, I've always been up for a new challenge or opportunity and I've always tried to cultivate a dialogue with people by being genuinely interested in their stories. The blog has given me a creative, "public" outlet for what I do, but it's also had its own price.

Never mind the parodies and cheap snide comments - and while it's just as good to be talked about, yes, of course, they can be hurtful and nasty, which is more of a reflection on those who resort to it than me - having this blog has exaggerated my drive to get it right, to write better, to communicate more clearly, to learn more about things for myself and those who read here. I spend hours on posts, tweaking, thesaurusing, researching.

I travel to places to meet and talk to people, take time I could be resting, watching TV, meeting friends to attend interesting things to blog about. I'll spend ages taking photos or videos, I'll buy tickets, pay for food, and generally go well out of my way to get it right. I'll never be a great writer in technique, I'll never have the obscure or fancy words, but I think it's great people respond to what I write and understand what I mean.

The blog has also opened up something I've long lacked - a "professional reason" or confidence to talk to people. Any people. I've interviewed singers, comedians, directors, authors, poets, journalists, musicians. I've met with companies, spoken on the radio, given talks at events, met some great people.


It's all hard work - I write, I transcribe, I type, I do my best to deliver an accurate portrayal of my experience, something that will benefit the reader as much as the person kind enough to give me their time. I go everywhere with a notebook, scribbling frantically, often missing the experience in the attempt to capture it.

Even at the cinema last night, one non-blogging friend saw me write and said "No wonder your posts are so long!" I just want to know as much as I can to write as well as I can. I do so much that I can't write it all. I think I have somewhere in the region of 60 posts in draft, still to be published.


It's worth it. It's such a fucking thrill, excuse my language, to press PUBLISH POST and finally think "Yes, I'm happy with that." That's what I get from blogging, the joy of knowing I pushed myself to do something, that I put work into it and there's the result.

Someone asked me why I blog such personal stuff - perhaps too personal for some. Is it for the attention? The 'aww poor/great' you? No, bollocks to that. It'd be far easier not to, to keep it impersonal, anonymous. It wouldn't attract the criticism for one.

I do it to connect.

Almost every comment and private email I get, be it about sexuality, adoption, loneliness, bullying, out-of-placedness or even "I don't know what I'm doing on the computer" validates how important it is for people to connect, to see that personal touch, to feel they're not alone. If, as I think, the internet is a tool to connect people and connect with people, then that's what I use it for.


The opportunities continue to come. I feel now, despite how busy I am, that all the hard work is finally paying off. It will only pay off through more work and of course striking the balance between work and rest and enjoying the challenges they pose as much as the experiences they promise to deliver. The chances I've taken will have an impact and I'll learn from them.

It was confirmed today that I start a new job on Monday next. A big new job for me. Biggest of my career and not something I thought that I would ever get until someone I respect, someone who puts in hard work told me I should apply. I sat in the interview, nervous but excited and started by saying "Everything that has happened in my working career has brought me right to this point."

It sounds completely wanky but it's true. I am now, professionally, the sum total of my experiences. Every chance I took, mistake I made, technique I learned, every project I tackled, challenge I folded under or obstacle I overcame is now, more than it has ever been, part and parcel of who I am and where my career is going towards.

I have to learn how to appreciate the work while maintaining the standards. This too will come. I have to learn to balance hard work with fun times. This too will come. I have to learn to shorten my posts. This won't happen, but if anything I'll work on making them better with better content, more timely posts and less of this inane rambling.

I'm not writing this post for feedback or personal gain - exposing my career "failures" online is hardly the smartest of moves, no matter what the intention. I'm just sitting here thinking how great it is that I can do what I do. Someone told me I was capable of anything. I'm determined to prove them right.

Feck off Barry's Tea - I have work to do!

Just been sent a link to the new Barry's Tea TV ad:

So not fair. Here's me, up to my tonsils (post to follow) and there's Barry's teasing me with a major case of travel envy, of wanderlust and of the knowledge that I never took the opportunity to do that, to get away from Ireland before I was 30 for a year off, just travelling around, like 'Jane' in the ad, going from place to place. A combination of never having the money, always working and never just going and doing it - completely my own fault.

Niamh took the opportunity last year - she's telling me at the moment that "This time last year I was on a glacier" and "Oh last year I was swimming with dolphins off the course of Fiji with a cocktail in one hand and a whole 2 months before I came home" - or words to that effect. Not boasting, just reminiscing but I can't help feeling that envy.

Younger sisters and brothers have gone off to Australia, ex colleagues are just back from world trips and I'm fed up of logging on to Facebook to read where other people are and I'm not.

Of course they saved up or went into debt or worked hard for all of that. And me, well I've travelled a lot, lived in London for a year, Spain for a few months and am generally very lucky. Still though, this is my rant and I'll rant if I want to.

I'm currently writing another post about work and realised that I've been working almost non-stop since I was 21, punctuated only by holidays and periods of unemployment, where I packed as much if not more in than a working day. This week sees the culmination of three big projects I'm working on, I'm feeling drained but stressed, running only on adrenalin and enthusiasm, unable to sleep but very, very happy.

Being busy suits me.

So go away Barry's with your travel and your flavours and golden moments and your temptation. (Mrs Doyle: "Now what do you say to a nice cup of tea". Fr Jack: "Feck off cup!") Come back to me in a couple of months or so. I may have time for you then.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Twitter rap - one fordy

I was told about this in a meeting this morning:

Via and Howard Lindzon. Put together by Jon Labes and Phil Pearlman and rapped by Julie Alexandria and Brent Rose, directed by @jonlabes.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Statistically, six out of seven dwarves are not Happy

Blogging is very light this week - I'm sorry, but I'm also having an unbelievably great week, thanks, in no small way, to the generosity of people with their time and creativity.

Things are happening and coming together in ways that I wouldn't have thought possible at the start of this year, so as soon as I get the chance to sit, type and update you all, I will.

It's a terrible excuse I know, but it's the only one I got.

I'm at the Dublin Twestival this evening - maybe see you there?

I gave my friend an over-inflated balloon for his birthday. It didn't go down very well.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Dan, if you're going to advertise your love on Facebook...

It's a bit of a Valentine's FAIL really. On a number of levels.

Dan's bought the girlfriend a website for Valentine's Day, to profess his love. He bought her actual name as the domain, which is nice. On said website he has put lovely heart images. Which is always nice. And obviously he's paid for the hosting and the domain of said website. Which is also very nice.

And then he obviously, having gone to this trouble, decided to compose a searing, passionate, romantic ode to this wonderful girlfriend of his, so worthy of such effort, so important in his life and so-going-to-be-impressed at all the work he's put in. Does he quote the words of her favourite poet? No. Does he quote the lyrics of her favourite song? No. Nothing so predictable.

How about a heartfelt and honest piece on why he loves her, what she means to him and how he truly feels, where the lack of professional veneer is eclipsed by the raw emotion and effort he obviously put into the composition of it? Well...

Image from screenshot of website reading Yo, For my crazy cool girlfriend, you can kill me later!! Happy Valentine’s day, Dan.

It's not exactly Dylan, is it? Before we judge though, we must accept that maybe this is good for Dan. Maybe he's 11 and she's 11 and she's always wanted a website of her own and she'll be ever so impressed especially when he explains how he's actually advertising on Facebook, how loads of people have clicked on his message already and how, in the advertisement, he somehow managed...

Image of ad on Facebook reading Orla Fitzgerlad, will you be my Valentine, guess who.......

... to spell the girl's surname wrong.

Orla Fitzgerlad/Fitzgerald - if you're out there, let us know what you think of your new website, please? Oh and happy Valentine's Day. And enjoy Sunday, whatever that is!

Lvoe is in the air...

(Is it bad that I posted this before I checked the WhoIs to find out who owns it?)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Is this the best designed website in Kilkenny?

Advertising Kilkenny's own Jack Street, so called cos he's gots the word on it. The street that is. The one in Kilkenny. The one right beside Jack Street's laneway where, according to ever-reliable source Hamish Lane, Jack Street was caught kissing ten men. Apparently.

Jack's new, official and highly professional may not be officially a Ken McGuire designed site, but it certainly looks like he may have had an influence. Not on the TV ad below though.

Just look what Twitter member and all round good guy Lee Kelly had to say about Jack's new website:

Are you looking for confidential information? Any information? Cos Jack can get you that. How about legal over-the-counter hallucinogens? He can get you those. Industrial sabotage? Yep, sure!

Visit to find out more - don't forget to have your speakers on - Shaft fans will love it.

You can read Jack's blog and all about his enemies, the nasty bastid Vultures Private Investigators that Byrne is pimping out, cheap sell-out that he is.

Jack Street has panache. Sure what more could anyone in Kilkenny need?

Monday, February 09, 2009

Good Monday morning

How are you?

(That's literally it for the moment, but I'll be back soon. I do want to know how you are though!)

Friday, February 06, 2009

Here, did you know that oul' Paddy could speak Chinese?

It's my favourite ever Irish short film and it's now on You Tube. Daniel O' Hara's Yu Ming is Ainm Dom

I'm in a video frame of mind today.

I'm sorry, but Ireland is gay

There'll be quotes aplenty from that not-entirely-safe-for-work video! "I'm sorry, but Ireland is gay" - so begins the ad for GCN's 21st birthday in Tripod - tickets €10, going fast - on February 19. I found this over on Climaxxx, Chewy Chewerson's newly revived blog. Go on over and say hello.

Sam Shepard's Ages of the Moon coming to the Abbey Theatre

David from Dublin's Abbey Theatre was in touch to let me know about the new Sam Shepard play, Ages of the Moon which has its world premiere in March.

Written especially for leads Seán McGinley and Oscar-nominated Stephen Rea, this is:

"a gruffly poignant and darkly funny play. Byron and Ames are old friends, re-united by mutual desperation. Over whiskey on a hot summer’s night, they sit, reflect and bicker until fifty years of love, friendship and rivalry are put to the test at the barrel of a gun."
Sam Shepard is a Pulizer prize-winning US writer, director and actor. His 2007 play, Kicking A Dead Horse premiered in the Abbey. It was written by Shepard for Stephen Rea, and then went on to tour to New York and London. Ages of the Moon follows the Abbey's other sell-out productions of Shepard's Fool for Love (2008) and True West (2006)

Fiach Mac Congail, Jimmy Fay, Sean McGinley and Stephen Rea were interviewed in a short video about the play:

The play opens Tuesday 3 March, with previews February 24 to 28 and March 2 and it runs to April 4. Booking is now open on Dublin 01 87 87 222 or via

The actual, official, just released Get On Your Boots video from U2.

EDIT: I tried and failed to use the embed code from the video, so whatever groovy video software are using, it doesn't seem to want to embed itself here.

There's the link to the finished product. Enjoy!

Very special concerts tonight and tomorrow night in Vicar Street for children in Gaza

I'm delighted that things have worked out to allow me go to the Tuesday's Child Gigs for Children In Gaza in Vicar Street tonight.

Link to PDF version here

From the press release:

Some of the biggest names in Irish music are teaming up with the Irish-based children’s charity Tuesday’s Child to aid suffering children in Gaza.

Lisa Hanningan, Neil Hannon, Mary Black, Liam O’Maonlaí, Eleanor McEvoy, Paul Brady, Kila, One Day International, Frances Black, Mundy and friends will perform over two fabulous nights of music in Vicar St.

The musicians, who are donating their time and talents for free, will be singing their hearts out on behalf of children whose voices have been drowned out and tragically silenced by this most violent of wars.
Orla Sheehan is the lovely lady from Tuesday's Child who is arranging all of this with Sorcha and the team from Aiken Promotions. Though based on the North Parade in Belfast, Orla is currently preparing for the concert tonight. Recently back from Gaza herself, she said
“We are devastated by the recent conflict in the Middle East and the slaughter of so many innocent children and young people. I have never witnessed a violation of human rights like Gaza. The injustices these forgotten children face are cruel beyond words.

Their little lives were already so fragile and hanging on by a thread. They were suffering dreadfully, even before this invasion.

Since 27th December, some of the children we were feeding have been killed; others have died slowly of starvation and dehydration. Hundreds of others are seriously injured, many are orphaned and have lost siblings and thousands have been left homeless. Some we cannot locate.

No child in this conflict will be left unscarred. The greatest tragedy of all is that this war has the potential to make the world an unsafe place for many more children around the world.”
There's a fantastic auction happening too with some great prizes - a signed fender guitar and tickets for their O2 concerts from Snow Patrol; a limited edition - one of 35 to be exact - Thin Lizzy Tour Jacket, from the 1978 Alive and Dangerous Tour as well as donations from The Chieftans, Cat Stevens, the Beach Boys, award winning poet Paul Muldoon, Irish Gold Olympians Ronnie Delaney and Kenny Egan and Michelin chef Richard Corrigan.

Tikcets are €25 each and almost sold out for tonight. All proceeds will go towards the Tuesday’s Child emergency relief fund for food, water, milk, medicines, mattresses and blankets.

You can find out more on the Tuesday's Child website or over on

Brian Lenihan TD responds to cervical cancer campaign email with press release

When Shauneen emailed us as part of the "Harney must reinstate cervical cancer vaccine" campaign, part of the request was to email our local TD to tell him what we thought of the Dáil vote which sought to have the cervical cancer vaccine programme implemented. That was mid November 2008.

Brian Lenihan, the Fianna Fáil TD for Dublin West, Minister for Finance and ex Minister for Children is the local TD here so I dropped him an email back then. I got his response by post this morning.

Dear Darragh

Please accept my apologies for the delay in replying to your email regarding your concerns on the HPV vaccine.

I enclose herewith copy of press release issued by Ms. Mary Harney T.D., Minister for Health and Children in this regard.

If can be of any further assistance on any matter please don't hesitate to contact my office,

Best wishes

Yours sincerely,

Brian Lenihan T.D.
Minister for Finance

The attached press release was a statement by Mary Harney on the HPV vaccination programme dated 04 November 2008.
"The economic situation has rapidly and seriously deteriorated. Public resources, including those for health, are very scarce indeed and will remain so. I have decided that the best that can be achieved in these circumstances is to prioritise funding for the development of the cervical screening programme and treatment services at the eight designated cancer centres, which includes the challenge of funding very expensive cancer drugs. I will not therefore be proceeding with the introduction of a HPV vaccination programme.

"The continuation and expansion of the Cancer Control Programme under Professor Tom Keane remains a priority and funding of €15 million has been made available for this.

"At the moment we are rolling out the National Cervical Screening Programme, CervicalCheck. The Programme will provide free smear tests through primary care settings to the 1.1 million women living in Ireland aged between 25 and 60 years. A successful national programme has the potential to cut mortality rates from cervical cancer by up to 80%."
I don't think there's much point on commenting on how ineffective and unsatisfactory either Minister's response is.

As of today there's 12,804 members in the Facebook group. Their aim is simple - it's calling on Minister Harney to go back on her decision to not implement the vaccine for cervical cancer for 12 year olds, a programme that would cost just €8m a year for primary schools and one that could save an estimated 50+ lives a year.

If you haven't joined the group, please do so. If you haven't invited your friends to join, please do so. The group grew from 255 members on Nov 12 to over 12,800 today with your help.

You can also join the 1,335 people who have signed the STOP Cervical Cancer Petition which calls upon:
"The European Parliament, the European Commission and all National Governments of Europe to implement the effective organised cervical cancer prevention programmes that will provide the optimal protection against cervical cancer for all the women of Europe."

Talking gadgets with Gadgetrepublic

The wonderful Marie Boran recently quizzed me on my gadgetary tastes for gadget news and reviews site - here's a link to what I had to say:

The photo of me was taken by my friend and three-categories-in-the-blog-awards-longlisted Naomi. Congratulations!

While you're over there, check out their competitions and the first Gadget Talk interview with Pat Phelan.

If someone could tell me if the dream gadget exists, I'd appreciate it!

Roof ripped off Dublin bus: photos from the accident site

10 passengers escaped harm by sitting downstairs on the 42A double-decker bus that hit a tree yesterday morning.

The Indo reports the accident took place shortly before 8.30am - as the photos below show the time was approximately 8.11am or so.

The accident occurred in a designated bus lane near the former Five Lamps pub as the bus travelled towards Artane from Abbey Street, shortly before 8.30am.

A spokeswoman for the company said the driver of the bus was taken to the Mater hospital to be treated for shock, but all 10 passengers on board escaped unharmed.
Shortly after the accident Sinéad Cochrane uploaded some great pictures to her Flickr account including the ones below.

photo shows Dublin Bus parked beside railings with Fire engine parked behind. The top of the bus is completely gone, you can actually count all the seats upstairs.

photo shows roof of bus on the road, not as high as the litter bin, parked in the bus lane

Joe Drumgoole and Swear I'm not Paul followed quickly with photos, as did member dmeagher:

Photo shows 42A stopped on side of road at site of accident. Only the two front window supports are visible.

I received more by email last night but I'll start with this remarkable artist's impression, found via Thinkhouse PR:

Image shows Cadbury's Double Decker bar halved beside a tree that looks like it was painted by a four year old child

Ahem, yes. Well anyway - my thanks to Lisa for sending the following through:

Photo shows the roof of the bus on the road behind it just after the crash. Many of the windows are still intact. Photo taken at 08:09

Photo shows roof of bus from rear on the road. Back window is totally smashed as is the surrounding metal. A fire engine can be seen in the background. Photo taken at 08:12

Phot shows rear of bus after accident - top is completely gone but most of the surround from the rear window is hanging down over the license plate. Photo taken at 08:19

Phot taken at 08:11 shows the front of the bus, pre-poice or emergency services arriving