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The past decade has seen social media take over almost every facet of advertising and marketing. Brands are jostling for consumers’ attention in an ocean of competition, but conventional wisdom suggests that the fundamentals of PR and marketing have changed less than one might think. Satisfying clients’ needs and helping shape their message to promote the brand and the product are still key to success, writes Peter Stears


Brand Central

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16 May 2017

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In a report carried out by Social Media Examiner, looking into the relationship between marketing and social media, it was found that 90% of marketers said social media is important to their businesses*.

Attracting consumers’ attention through storytelling and a unique angle may be more challenging in the social media age, but it’s still a challenge that can pay dividends. 81% of marketers agreed that they have integrated their social media marketing with their traditional marketing activities with 63% of marketers using social media for six hours or more and 39% for 11 or more hours weekly.

Despite all of this, only 38% of business-to-business marketers feel that their Facebook marketing is effective. For a brand to traverse the never ending ocean of social media, it has to be worth it*.

Return on investment

It can be very difficult for a brand to confidently declare that there was a return on investment from social media. Investing in social media marketing and whether it returns an increase in likes and follows, views on a video, visits to a website or hopefully a rise in sales, is up to the brand to define what they see as a success.

If there is one thing everyone can agree on, it’s that social media and the correct utilisation of it can be extremely powerful. If a brand doesn’t know what it wants to achieve then it won’t succeed.

Social media can also be a powerful tool if it isn’t done correctly and sometimes a brand’s marketing stunts can go viral for all of the wrong reasons.

Take for example a recent advertisement from a popular soda brand which caused a social media outcry. In 48 hours of the video being on YouTube it had racked up nearly 1.6m views and had five times as many downvotes as upvotes. The company later pulled the advertisement and offered a public apology**.

It is events like these that can make sailing through social media a treacherous journey but to help brands navigate safely, engaging a reliable PR and marketing agency is key, and this month, ShelfLife set out to learn about some of the most reputable and knowledgeable organisations operating in the Irish market today.

Differing approaches and philosophies provided by these agencies offer brands the choice to pick the one that’s the best fit for their own style, often leading to fruitful and long-lasting relationships.

*(Source: ‘How Marketers are Using Social Media to Grow Their Businesses by Michael A. Stelzner’, Social Media Examiner, May 2016)

**(Source:, April 2017)

Skills and expertise / by Breena Cooper

Drury | Porter Novelli is an office of 30 highly skilled communications specialists operating across a number of practice areas: consumer & brand communications, corporate, public affairs, financial PR, health & wellness, project communications and training.

Breena Cooper, creative director at Drury | Porter Novelli

Breena Cooper, creative director at Drury | Porter Novelli

We are proud of the work we undertake. Good solid, creative and impactful work, tailored to specific client needs, budgets and objectives. We are partners with our clients, large and small, across times of both opportunity and crisis, creating clear, concise communications with a proven return on investment.

Our competitive advantage lies in our people, our experience and our approach to client work. We stand up for the right idea – no matter where this comes from, dig deeper, and collaborate fiercely to create big creative consumer campaigns. We’re enormously energetic ‘ideas’ people, moving quickly to create stories that engage the target audience, and devising fresh, surprising, ambitious cross-channel campaigns. Our mission is to drive purposeful action through influence and engagement, which is why we focus on behavioural change as opposed to just generating coverage for our clients.

Our thriving consumer practice is particularly passionate about FMCG brands, and decades of experience ensure that we are fluent in the debates, the issues and the pinch points in the FMCG industry.

Whilst Drury | Porter Novelli is part of a global collective of the top PR agencies in the world – Omnicom Public Relations Group, we also have all of the characteristics and spirit of a boutique agency – delivering our clients’ local, global, or multi market work with agility, personality and professional informality, and simultaneously enjoying access to the latest trends, insights, and global research.

Q&A with Nicky Crichton, head of brand communications, Drury | Porter Novelli

Nicky Crichton says Drury | Porter Novelli strives to be in inspirational workplace

Nicky Crichton says Drury | Porter Novelli strives to be in inspirational workplace

How important is it to have social media ‘influencers’ on board with a campaign?

If the influencer is a natural fit for the brand and the brand’s values, it can work really well as an authentic approach to reaching and engaging with the brand’s target audience. Consumers are more discerning, so if the partnership is a commercial agreement with an influencer for their high following and no real connection to the brand, it doesn’t benefit anyone or could even be damaging for the brand. Since the pool of established influencers is quite small, brands need to do their research as to which sectors and competitors the influencer has already worked for. The rise of micro influencers is interesting – their engagement is just as effective as some of the better known names. We use a combination of listening tools and data collection along with human analysis to identify the right influencers for individual campaigns.

Please tell us about a time that you came up with a unique ‘angle’ on a brand’s story that secured nationwide coverage?

Newsjacking is a clever tactic which works well to capture the zeitgeist or news agenda on a particular day. During Science Week, the Friday of the week happened to be Friday 13th, so we developed a release of 13 facts around the number 13 which got great traction. We worked closely with Littlewoods Ireland to mine their extensive customer data and spending habits per region to generate unique news angles, and there was a retail client which saw sales of squid soar after a well-known celebrity spoke about the benefits of the Dukan diet. These are a result of being really close the news agenda and what is trending on social, working closely with our clients to know their brand and being agile enough to react.

Who/what inspires you most within the PR sphere?

Who: the female senior management within Drury|Porter Novelli and the mentors that I work with every day.

What: Really clever campaigns and challenger brands that punch above their weight. I think it is relatively easy to grab attention and create a buzz when you have big budgets. However, it is the really smart, small campaigns which have to be super creative and disruptive to maximise more modest budgets in order to engage with the target audience, create impact and drive brand awareness. For example, when the Ikea team happened to notice that Balenciaga had launched a blue bag worth €1,968 with striking similarities to Ikea’s 70c Frakta bag, they worked with their PR agency to release a quick media alert and quote, which resulted in coverage in print, online and broadcast; a quick and easy win resulting in huge brand awareness and conversation. Following on from the traction of the initial media alert, they subsequently released a checklist for identifying an ‘original Ikea Frakta bag’ to ensure you weren’t purchasing a “fake”!

If a client has a relatively small budget, how can they secure the maximum coverage with the funds available to them?

Define your audience, know where that audience is and serve them content that will engage them through the relevant channels, rather than trying to achieve maximum coverage for the sake of column inches. At Drury|Porter Novelli, we work with budgets and brands big and small to develop creative campaigns that deliver. Social media is a great platform to achieve reach and open a two-way conversation directly with the target audience. This requires a clear strategy, content plan and defined approach, but once up and running, it can generally be run day-to-day by the in-house team who are fully immersed in the brand and tone of voice. Clear guidelines for the in-house team are required as is budget to create content and support promoted posts, contributing to a complete digital strategy.

In order to operate a successful PR firm, what in your opinion are the top three attributes you must possess?

Good people, strong values, and the ability to have fun.  At the end of the day, office culture is everything, what we are selling is our expertise, our counsel, our ideas, our creativity, our knowledge – our people are what make us special. At Drury|Porter Novelli, we value our people and invest in our talent through training, facilitating flexible hours, and offering opportunities for placements in worldwide partner offices. We also have our values which we instil in everything we do internally and externally, we are only as great as our reputation and the work we produce. Finally, we work hard and often spend more time with the people we work with than our family, so it needs to be an enjoyable place to be. We have Thirsty Thursdays, Creative of the Month, colleague shout-outs, our wellbeing programme and monthly ‘lunch and learns’.  We strive to create a happy, creative and inspiring place to work.


PR agency: Drury | Porter Novelli

Est. 1989

Contact name: Anne Marie Curran

Phone: 01-260-5000


Client list:

Road Safety Authority

Three Mobile

Littlewoods Ireland


Paddy Power


The Westbury

Love Irish Food


Tourism Ireland



Science Foundation Ireland


East Coast Bakehouse


Beaumont Hospital

Tallaght Hospital

Effective campaigns / by Lynn Hunter

Lynn Hunter, MD and founder of Hunter Communications

Lynn Hunter, MD and founder of Hunter Communications

Hunter Communications’ approach is simple: we plan, and we listen to our clients’ audience. We ensure a structured approach to obtaining an in-depth understanding of the brand, category and market situation. We ensure that relevant and accurate consumer and business insights drive all our PR strategy development. We demonstrate our recognition of the critical importance of real knowledge and understanding in generating effective PR campaigns.

  • Hunter Communications is connected – we have strong working relationships with the best in the business that result in seamless, well-executed campaigns on all levels.
  • We are storytellers for our clients: “Be the Conversation” via shareable and optimised content, news generation and events. We bring a project/campaign to life.
  • We collaborate: We make strategic collaborations happen that give your brand a new platform and added credibility, ensuring it’s a perfect fit.
  • We deliver: Every step of the way is planned to meticulous detail so you can be confident of an impeccable end result. We execute campaigns on time, and on budget.


Hunter Communications

Est. 2009

Contact: Lynn Hunter

Phone: 01-9056350



Client list:

Largo portfolio – Tayto, King, Hula Hoops, POM Bear, O’Donnells, Hunky Dorys and Tayto Popcorn. Musgraves: Frank & Honest, SuperValu Tidy Towns, Kopparberg, Prizefight Whiskey, Dublin Blonde Craft Beer, Castlepalooza Music and Arts Festival, Parfois, Alex & Ani, Original Penguin, Callan & Co, i-White, James Read and Lisa Richards.

Delivering firsts / by Sarah Brewer

The race is on for FMCG brands to disrupt, deliver ‘firsts’ and generally activate in smart and impactful ways in order to grab consumer attention and drive the bottom line. Brands and their agencies can’t afford to stand still. The Reputation Agency works with some of the best marketers in the country to identify their business objectives and come up with creative consumer campaigns that deliver on those objectives.

Sarah Brewer, director, TRA Brands

Sarah Brewer, director, TRA Brands

The ‘ask’ from consumer communications agencies continues to grow and extend to multi-disciplinary campaigns that include everything from brand strategy, sponsorship negotiation and management, content creation and brand experience. To deliver all of this and have real impact requires real consumer insight. As a JWT agency, TRA has access to the global trends and insights from its global agency partners. Locally, via RepTrak, TRA can understand how brands’ reputation directly impacts a consumer’s trust in a brand and their likelihood to buy.

The TRA Brands team translates those insights into strategically on-point campaigns, with the standout creative delivery that makes its clients’ brands famous. Supporting everything from NPD to a new SKU launch, TRA develops the creative campaign idea, which can be activated through-the-line. After that, the agency matches the right solution to the brief with teams creating digital content, experiential activations, PR-led sampling, media relations or social media and influencer marketing programmes. 2017 is already The Reputation Agency’s busiest and most exciting year yet, with FMCG campaigns for NPD and global brands launching in the Irish market.


TRA Brands at The Reputation Agency

Established: January 2014

Contact: Sarah Brewer/Suzie O’Dea

Phone: 01-661-8915

Email:  or




Fire & Smoke



Green Cola

Cheestring Scoffies


Cross-border representation / by Riki Neill

One of only a few agencies in Ireland to deliver cross-border representation for brands in both Ireland and Northern Ireland, RNN Comms works with clients in the FMCG and hospitality sectors, in addition to the agency’s work in renewables.

With experience in creating communications strategies for SMEs, indigenous Irish brands and global players, RNN Comms is a uniquely different communications agency where results count.

Riki Neill, director and founder of RNN Communications

Riki Neill, director and founder of RNN Communications

Delivering both online and offline activation plans, RNN Comms works with clients including Gala Retail, Fisherman’s Friend, Eat Natural, Valeo Foods, CATEX, the Horatio Group and IFEX.

The company operates three divisions: @RNNComms, @RNNDigital and @RNNGreen. Services include: sponsorship identification and activation, event management, social media, content creation, trade communications, crisis management and everything in between!

RNN Comms works with its clients on a partnership basis where honesty, trust and counsel are valued by both parties. It’s a winning combination that has delivered award-winning work for clients and growth for the agency year-on-year.

Working with clients in partnership is very important to the agency, and through getting to know the brand, the challenges and opportunities, RNN Comms can create campaigns that deliver cut-through and longevity, and are aligned to clients’ brand values.

Helping the client to achieve its business and communications goals is the ultimate outcome, and with this positioned as the overarching objective, we create tailored communications plans that help to deliver solutions for our clients.

Our many years’ experience in the FMCG sector, in addition to our knowledge of the media landscape and the team’s complementary skills, ensure that each client benefits from a customised approach that’s best suited to their business.

For many clients, we deliver integrated campaigns that live and breathe both on and offline, however for an increasing number of clients, we provide specialised services such as creation and management of online social media accounts for the Irish market, one-off product launches, management of CSR campaigns and interim social media support for in-house teams.

The flexibility of our approach, expertise and ‘can do’ attitude lead RNN Comms to deliver more services for clients and winning new business both in Ireland and in NI.


RNN Communications

Established: 2013

Contact: Riki Neill, founder/director

Phone: 048 9521 3621



Experts in innovation / by Mari O’Leary

O’Leary PR is a boutique agency with over two decades’ extensive experience across all aspects of public relations. As a full service agency, we work on all the associated elements from media relations, event management to social and digital marketing. We position ourselves as a client’s marketing partner, supporting with a team that’s flexible, responsive, skilled and creative. As communication strategists, we have the expertise and enthusiasm to consistently deliver innovative results orientated campaigns.

O’Leary PR places a particular focus on the consumer lifestyle sectors. Within this arena, we work across multiple industries including motoring, food & drinks, hospitality & destination, fashion & beauty, entertainment, health, sports, charity and more. We also manage the corporate communications requirements on behalf of many of our clients.

Mari O'Leary, managing director of O'Leary PR

Mari O’Leary, managing director of O’Leary PR

Being a medium-size consultancy, we are well positioned to deliver value for money with lower overheads than the larger companies. We always work collaboratively with clients to achieve results within their allocated budgets. At O’Leary PR we design bespoke campaigns tailored to meet the client’s specific objectives and marketing goals.

Return on investment is more important now than ever. Setting clear objectives from the outset ensures that both agency and client are working towards specific goals. Once O’Leary PR is active on an account, the team will always respond proactively to opportunities both to enhance the campaign and to provide the client with added value.

A member of the PRCA, O’Leary PR holds the Consultancy Management Standard 2016-2018, the PR industry’s quality mark.


O’Leary PR & Marketing

Established: 1994

Contact: Mari O’Leary

Phone: 01-678-9888


Clients: Electronic Arts


Essence Cosmetics

LOV Cosmetics

Killashee Hotel

Irish Whiskey Awards

Whiskey Live

Number Twenty-Two



Wax in the City

L’Oreal Colour Trophy

No job is too big /by Sharon Bannerton

Results-focused and driven to maximise budget and market reach, Bannerton PR prides itself on original, impactful communication that supports both brand values and commercial objectives.

Sharon Bannerton, founder and MD of Bannerton PR

Sharon Bannerton, founder and MD of Bannerton PR

Bannerton is a leading Dublin boutique agency whose managing director has over 20 years’ PR and marketing experience in working with some of Ireland’s leading retail, technology, lifestyle, finance and FMCG brands.

Bannerton manages cost-effective consumer, financial, public information and corporate campaigns, tailored precisely to the client’s market, budget, and communications brief.

Bannerton also has superb media contacts on an ‘All-Ireland’ basis, who work with us to deliver original editorial, interviews and endorsement. We deliver 24/7 flexible PR; always pro-active and always available to exploit opportunity and advise on issues. Clients deal directly with the managing director, and have back up from a team of hard working executives.

The Bannerton client base ranges from major national and international brands and corporates, to boutique businesses; all committed service providers and quality business operators.

We ‘cross-pollinate’ suitable clients, maximising opportunities to complement brands, events, commercial and media activity. Events, social media management, sponsorship, promotions, creative copywriting and website input are all areas of expertise.

Bannerton’s simple proposition is impactful consumer and corporate PR that is cost-effective, efficient and seamlessly activated.

Winning the Business & Finance Business2Business Awards for PR/Advertising Agency of the Year 2016, the essential Bannerton advantage is that we are big enough to deliver on your brand objectives, and small enough to really care about your business.


Bannerton PR

Established: 2010

Contact: Sharon Bannerton

Phone: 015311000



Client list:

Butlers Chocolates


Académie Scientifique de Beauté


Kora Healthcare

Miss Fit Skinny Tea

The D



Urban Veda

Jessica Nails



Recruitment Plus

Hidden Hearing

Enthusiasm and energy /By Maeve Governey

Walsh:PR offers a team of focused and passionate individuals bursting with enthusiasm, energy and an ‘always on’ attitude. We develop strategies for brands to incorporate tactics that engage with as many touch points as possible. The ability to do this is not based on the extent of the budget alone, but rather the ability to devise as much creative content as we can to deliver standout multifaceted campaigns.

Maeve Governey, deputy managing director of Walsh PR

Maeve Governey, deputy managing director of Walsh PR

Our client service team combines youth and experience, which are hugely important elements in ensuring we deliver appropriately to our clients. Much of the focus of our clients’ business is to stay on top of current trends. Therefore, a young creative client service team is invaluable. At the same time the experienced amongst us know that it’s also really important not to get too caught up in the ‘here today gone tomorrow’ nature of these trends. Brand values are important and not losing sight of the long-term goals and sustainability of products are key to their ongoing success.

Flahavan’s, a brand we are very proud to have been working with for over 15 years, is an excellent example of this. Flahavan’s is constantly evolving in terms of new product development and innovation, and we work closely with the comapny to bring this to life through cutting-edge campaigns. However we are always mindful not to alienate their incredibly loyal customers who just love Flahavan’s for its original product and traditional family values.

Consumers are transient too – the millennials of today may be the mums and dads of tomorrow, seeking out a brand they can trust to share with their children.



Established: 1984

Contact: Maeve Governey

Phone: 01-661-3515



Client list:


Dr. Oetker

Glanbia Consumer Foods

Golden Irish

Jack Ryan

Insights become incites / by Ger McCarthy

Weber Shandwick offers the skills and support of an international network combined with a local team of award-winning experts. As part of one of the world’s largest global communications networks, we have access to the latest thought leadership on trends and developments in our sector as well as specific propriety tools, such as our science of engagement process and Firebell, our crisis simulation and training programme.

Ger McCarthy, director of Weber Shandwick PR

Ger McCarthy, director of Weber Shandwick PR

Through experience working with global and indigenous brands, we understand the challenges and opportunities faced by companies large and small, market leaders to emerging brands right across the supply chain. And we know that when it comes to the consumer, engagement alone is not enough. It’s about creating engagement that leads to consumer action while managing and protecting reputations in a digital world.

We meticulously uncover the most relevant transactional insights, transform them into ‘Incites’ and bring them to life across every channel and touch point to reach consumers in a way that will build visibility and preference for our clients and their products.


Weber Shandwick

Established: 1989

Contact: Ger McCarthy

Phone: 01-679-8600



Client list:


Food Drink Ireland


Kenwood DeLonghi




Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority




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