Online PR in Ireland – Are Irish PR companies too busy ringing about their press releases to notice?

(BTW: This is an Online PR course we’re looking to provide)

Definition of PR from the PR Institute of Ireland:

Public relations – The dissemination of purposefully planned and executed messages to selected media and publics to enable an organisation (or person) establish and build relationships founded on trust, and to enhance and safeguard its reputation.

E-Consultancy in the UK released a great report this week on Online PR and the attitudes from agencies and their clients about it.

The favoured definition of Online PR from that report is:

The most popular definition was “maximising favourable mentions of your company, brands, products or websites on third party sites”, indicating that current Online PR objectives are more outreach and engagement-based than identifying, listening to and understanding stakeholders.

Some of the other definitions offered were:

  • Maximising favourable mentions of your company, brands, products or websites on third-party sites.
  • Using new technology to effectively identify and create a dialogue with stakeholders.
  • Extending reach and awareness of your brand.

And over in Eire…

If you look up the definition of Online PR on the website of the Public Relations Institute of Ireland you won’t actually find one. It’s not in their glossary which I guess is endemic of what is not happening in Ireland in terms of Online PR. Neville Hobson has been over a few times now to bash their heads together, good for him, people like Neville are needed but I wonder is he seen as some kind off curiosity instead of the saviour to their industry?

This is an industry that needs saving according to the figures from PRII and Drury’s Paddy Hughes. 20% decline in business in 2009? 2008 seeing 0% growth? Ouch and ouch. As the Online PR industry in the UK and around the world is thriving too?

turkey, before
Photo owned by nayrb7 (cc)

Most Irish PR firms are just not getting Online PR here. Too many are into “harvesting” email addresses off blogs and then sending the usual old shite they send to journalists. If a journalist isn’t going to read your useless unengaging press release, the blogger you’re spamming will have less interest again. As will a Beboer, a Facebooker or a LinkedIner. Bloggers are not being paid to file copy and fill up space so they might just be pickier than a journalist and their audiences certainly differ.

A recent digital marketing firm (not PR now mind) spammed a load of Irish bloggers about some ill-fitting product and when I took this up with them they said the client dictated it. Now with even less balls, it’s online relations!

Getting it/not getting it

So do the main PR companies get online? Not sure they fully do. Looking at some of the PRII Council Members and their companies let’s see what we get: (I got depressed after looking at these few and didn’t bother looking at the rest)

Blog? No
RSS feed for their news items? Yes.
Social Bookmarking options around their press releases? No
Search Engine Optimised releases? No
Additional content around the press releases? No
Date of last news item? May 18th, 2006

Saying that, Drury have been very proactive with me for HP one of their clients. Sending me review gear the odd time and inviting me to HP events. To

Gibney Communications
No to all.
Date of last news item? Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Murray Consultants
No no no.
Last news item. 31st October 2007

Bespoke Communications?
Well they have a Facebook Fan page which is pretty monumental for an Irish PR company. Well done on that.
No to the rest.
No news page.

However when it comes to pissing off bloggers, they’re very good at it. Below is a stupid email Bespoke Communications sent to me about a blog post on broadband prices in Ireland. Despite the fact I met their boss at a BT Ireland event and chatted to him I got a cold impersonal email suggesting I am somehow making BT look bad.

To whom it concerns,

On behalf of BT Ireland, we would be grateful if you would please refer to BT Ireland’s official website,, for all official pricing details. …

A number of recent reports on broadband prices in the Irish market have included incorrect price details for BT Ireland. Therefore, we would be grateful if you would reference the BT Ireland website for any future references to BT prices for broadband in Ireland.

Dictating anything to a blogger is not going to go down well. Suggesting to the blogger they are being communicated AT because of issues with incorrect prices is downright insulting. For once I was civil with such a reply. Most bloggers would not be and an email like this could have easily ruffled enough feathers for bloggers to blog more on the issues, not less.

Depressing. You can check out the other PR companies from the list and see how they measure up if you want.

There are a few shinier lights though.

Hope without Obama

Edelman get it. They would what with being an International powerhouse. They blog, kinda. Piaras Kelly is in their Irish office and is well known and respected in the Irish blogging community because he’s part of it.

Slattery Communications are getting it with both running Facebook events and creating their own Facebook Creativity Application. And a blog! They have staffers who blog too. Eoin Kennedy for example.

Thinkhouse PR (Disclaimer: we have an unfortunate history) are getting it too.

Are there more examples of Irish PR firms getting it?


Should a PR company not have at a minimum the following if they are to get Online PR?

  • A blog.
  • An RSS feed for news items. Bloggers might just subscribe to technology press releases or social.
  • A Facebook presence either officially via a page or via PR staff inviting people to events created on Facebook. There are 400,000 Irish on Facebook, reaching out to these active people is crucial.
  • Staff on Twitter
  • Releases dedicated to the online communities that exist.
  • Events tailored to those online communities.

I’m sure the usual excuses will pop up. They pop up in all aspects of life. It’s like this though: The boat is sinking and you can either learn to swim or you can die.

One example: How have telcos reacted to online negativity?

Looking at telecoms for when it comes to Online PR in Ireland you can see how the companies and their PR agencies are missing out. Three Ireland have a complaint thread on that has been viewed almost half a million times (449,285), it’s 379 pages long! Where’s the Online PR here? would (I’m guessing) love to have someone from Three to come along and engage constructively about this.

O2 did nothing about the rantings over their Paddy Tax and then when they treated potential and existing customers like crap and there was an online backlash, they still did nothing.

In the UK, O2 have their own Twitter accounts and real people who respond to issues. But not in Ireland.

And how many Irish PR companies have been to Measurement Camp? Measure what? Yeah.

Death by Internet

2009 is going to be very interesting for those who have forseen the growth of online and are geared up to tackle it. If the whole industry is going to tank by 20% though, it might not be so rosy for others. Death by ignoring the Internet.

"The Nick Jonas FANCLUB!"
Photo owned by Ezy Brenizzle (cc)

The business case for asking for a business case

Please stop asking for the business case for blogs or Twitter or Facebook or all these digital tools. Is there a business case for people reading the Irish Times in the office? Or listening to Morning Ireland?

On Friday night I was in London. On Friday night a local furniture store in Cork burned down. My Cork friends in London and myself watched what happened via my mobile and Twitter. Feck the notion of “how can we use this for business” before we allow it through our web filters. Just allow it. These are some of the pics we saw from London.

Pictures via Sam Kidd who was on the scene.

This is the aftermath:
Cork Fire North Main Street

What exactly is your justification for blocking the outside world from hearing from your company and sharing with your company?