How to Optimise your Twitter Strategy

August 18, 2009

I get asked all the time by hotels and other businesses that I am dealing with, what is twitter, how would we use it and is it just a pointless waste of time?! My answer to that is most definitly no, as I have used twitter very effectively over the past year to build my brand and the community around my business and made great contacts with other irish business people.

Twitter, facebook and all of the social media tools should be used in the same way that you deal with people in the real world. There are real people behind the twitter accounts so if you spam them, shout at them or generally bother them with rubbish, then they won’t like you. Just like in the real world then, right?

I came across this great presentation by Paul Fabretti on How to Optimise your Twitter Strategy for Business. Some great tips here, view it and learn more about twitter and how it can help your business.

Social Media Revolution

August 14, 2009

As a start up business, I don’t have a huge a huge marketing budget behind me, so I have embraced social media as a way of getting out there and interacting with people – customers, influencers and advocates.

So many other businesses that I come in contact wtih are clueless when it comes to social media and don’t understand how important it can (and will!) be for their business.  I have even been asked to come in and consult for them on their online marketing strategy!!  I am not an expert by any means, just an avid user and advocate of the benefits of social media.

Not convinced?  Watch this short video on the Social Media Revolution.  It will change the way you think.

Look And Taste – all you need for home cooking!

June 16, 2009

Pushing Irish Company Look and Taste today, I know the guys behind the company and a more dynamic duo you will not find! Sean and Niall are powerhouses of energy and ideas and they are an insipration to other entrepreneurs out there.

Look and Taste

Check out their site: lookandtaste.com for video receipes and their sister site FoodandFizz.com for the best of the food and drink blogs from around the world.

They also just launched their twice weekly show – where they interact with members of the public, interview guests and of course a bit of cooking too!

lookandtaste

Back Blogging

June 9, 2009

I'm Back Blogging!

Well after a VERY LONG hiatus from this blog I have decided that I want to give it a go again for the personal and business stuff that I can’t put on the wedding blog.

I want to get more involved in the Tuesday Push and help to promote other worthy Irish Businesses.

The weddingdates.ie blog has me searching for inspiration alot of the time, but hopefully as this is just my own stuff, there will be no mental blocks as to what to write!

Now all I have to do is find the time!!

Runaway Brides!

September 29, 2008

Publicity Stunt numero uno – The Cork Women’s Mini Marathon was the platform for which I chose to attempt to garner the first bit of PR for weddingdates.ie. [Launching soon!]

I intended to have a whole gang of girls (and guys!) dressed up as brides running the marathon with me.  Due to 30th birthday parties, Moving-away-to-Liverpool parties and generally an unwillingness to a) run a mini marathon or b) to be humiliated in a wedding dress; many of my friends weren’t available on the day to participate.

4 of the girls were bullied into it by me stepped up to the challenge and Kate, Una, Redness and my new poster girl Jenny did me proud on Sunday by not only completing the marathon in 1 hour 34 minutes, but they managed to do it with typical style and aplomb!

My good friend Peter Sweeney is a dab hand at the ol photography and jumped at the opportunity to photograph a load of brides!  Unfortunately, the shutter on his new camera broke the week before, but crisis was averted when Sabrina offered up hers for the occasion. (Are you keeping count of the times you have saved my butt now Sabrina?!)  Pete came up from Kerry for the event and despite being severely hungover (along with most of us!) did a fantastic job on the day and managed to sneak through the security and ended up doing the whole marathon with us, documenting the whole thing!!!

Brides keep em waiting!

Brides keep em waiting!

Like any good bride, we arrived late all in a flurry of veils and satin and got into the spirit straight away – the girls were nervous about being dressed up and looking silly, but as soon as we got out of the taxi and into the crowd, we were not alone!  Plenty of others were dressed up and the guys in drag provided us with much entertainment, particularly the “Pants Party” brigade!

We started the whole thing at a run, but in a fairly short time had to slow down to a steady amble as poor Jenny was struggling with the weight of her train and Redness was suffering under the weight of a hellish hangover!!

And they're off!!

And they're off!!

Runaway Brides

We generated plenty of attention with people getting a good giggle at our get ups and we were more than happy to pose for the many photographs that we were asked for during the day.  We all wore weddingdates.ie logos and to my excitement we overheard loads of people commenting on the name and talking about it as we walked the route.

Jenny has been officially designated the Poster girl for weddingdates.ie and she was the perfect model for the day and fell in love with her oversized dress complete with massive train (thanks to Easther for the dress!)  Can’t wait to get her back into it again for some more promo shots for the site.  (Without the runners this time!)

Jenny outside Blackrock Church…..would you LOOK at that fabulous train!!

Who would stand this one up?!!

Peter followed us around the course and we set up some great staged shots along with a ton of natural ones that he got aswell.  A favourite of mine was the Autumn Leaves as confetti, its unusual, fun and perfectly seasonal.

We finished the whole thing in 1 hour and 34 minutes….no mean feat, under all that taffetta (!!) and by the time we got to Kennedy Park we were ready to party.  Photographers loved our ‘unique’ look and snapped happy as we posed and I plugged weddingdates.ie unashamedly.  The DJ spotted us from the stage and invited us up only to ask us to lead the crowd in the ultimate wedding dance….The birdie song!!

Brides take to the Stage!

Brides take to the Stage!

Never one to shy away from a chance to dance on stage, I was in my element and all the girls really got into it too (they secretly love the spotlight too!)  We were thrilled we had completed the whole thing, and all the girls loved being in the wedding dresses.  Now they can see why I never want to take mine off!! Any opportunity!!

As we waited for a cab out on the curb, cars slowed down, tooted their horns….we LITERALLY stopped traffic!!! Naturally we got a good laugh out of all this, but the next car to stop was an Evening Echo van.  They hopped out and asked us would we mind, posing in front of the van…..Mind?!!  We couldn’t wait!!! We threw ourselves into our next photo op and worked the cameras (there were 2 on us at this stage, Peter AND the Echo photographer!).  The girl who was driving the van had the window down and couldn’t stop laughing at the hilarity of it all!  We got some great shots with plenty of Evening Echo logos, so if we don’t make the paper, I’ll eat my hat!!

Brides read the Evening Echo

Because Brides read the Evening Echo too!

All in all, a great experience.  We will DEFINITELY be doing it again next year…maybe with a few more participants even!  I couldn’t have done it without my girls and of course a very special mention goes out to Peter who did a superb job on the photos and processed them and uploaded them so quickly for me.

All 5 girls

All 5 girls

As a PR exercise, it was my first attempt at anything like this, so it was a good learning experience for me aswell from a point of view of publicising my business and not just dressing up and doing silly things for the craic.

Lessons learned for next year:

  • Be properly branded.  We had homemade signs with the company logo on them.  They not only looked unprofessional, they were too small.
  • Be linked to a charity.  The race was for charity and though we had entered to support the Irish Cancer Society, we didn’t have that on the signs.  We should have had weddingdates.ie running for the Irish Cancer Society, with both logos nice and big.
  • Be registered.  As I couldn’t confirm numbers who were doing the race with me for definite in advance I only registered myself and Kate.  And then Kate lost her number.  So I was the only one with an official race number.
  • Be pushy.  While we managed to spot official photographers and get our faces in their lenses, I didn’t give them my business cards.  I had them with me (stuffed down the front of the dress!) but in the excitement/hustle I forgot to give them to them.  I kicked myself afterwards when I realised.

The runners (and dresses!) are hung up for another year….

Bad Blogger…the long awaited Picnic Roundup

September 25, 2008

Okay.  So I have been a bad blogger.  A VERY bad blogger.  And so much has happened since my last post to try and catch up on everything will be impossible, but suffice to say that I will do better in the future.  I promise!

Electric Picnic was P.R.I.C.E.L.E.S.S!!!  The whole gang camped together, there was about 40 of us in all (including 3 Crossans – much to my dismay my 16 year old brother was allowed to go, but ended up having great fun with him in the end)  The girls and I went ahead with our ‘burlesque’ theme on Saturday and played up to the crowd in the Pussy Parlour in a big way!!!

Washed-up Burlesque Whores

Washed-up Burlesque Whores

The whole gang got into the fancy dress spirit!

The whole gang got into the fancy dress spirit!

Music-wise, highlights for me were KILA on the Main stage on Friday evening, New Young Pony Club enjoyed while eating one of the many steak sandwiches lovingly-made by a Kennedy, which I consumed over the weekend.  Sigur Ros were incredible, really spectacular to see them at the Picnic and rounded off Friday night superbly.  Rounded off may not be entirely truthful, as I did spent the following few hours wandering aimlessly through the campsites with my friend Sarah, casually dropping in on random campers (gangs of boys mostly!) posing as our alter East-End egos, Mee-shell and Kimber-lay.  “Awrite dah-lin?!” ;)

The 12noon TweetUp at the Pink Boat was a struggle to make on Saturday morning (after 2 hours sleep) but it was great to hang out with FrankieP PeterD, DebbieMet, MaryRose and DavidMaybury.  I was decked out in full burlesque clobber and armed with my good hubby fully suited and booted we created a fine stir around the Pink Boat early in the morning!

Pink Boat was the location for the tweetup

Pink Boat was the location for the tweetup

Carpet Salesman and Burlesque Whore

Carpet Salesman and Burlesque Whore

Post Pussy Parlour on Saturday afternoon, most of our gang under the guidance of the Kareoke King Robert, we made our way to the Playstation Dome to get heavily involved with some Singstar Superstar.  We took over the dome (and the stage) and had to be asked to leave after one too many dodgy singalongs with half of us on-stage and half of us off-stage laughing like mad!

Saturday evening was spent hanging out in the WONDERFUL Body and Soul area where a delightful young lady stumbled upon our little gang armed with a basket, a lot of coloured balloons and a tanks of laughing gas.  Ciara on laughing gas, I hear you ask?!! …..You can only imagine the results!!! :D

Vaguely remember catching some of George Clinton the godfather of funk at the main stage and not sure if I was still feeling the effects of the laughing gas, but wasn’t one of his band wearing an adult nappy???!!

Bridezilla

Sunday started in much the same vein, with our campsite a-flurry with fancy mess antics.  As 1 year had passed since my inflatable wedding to my 2 deliciously hunky (and drunky!) husbands; I decided to mark the anniversary by wearing the wedding dress again.  (any excuse, eh?!)  This year the black leather boots and whip really set the ensemble off!

Checked out Maeve Higgins at the International Comedy Tent on Sunday afternoon and was a bit morto when she annouced me in my bridal outfit to the whole crowd, while proclaiming…”Is that a man or a woman?!” THE SHAME!!! :) Fair play to Maeve though, she apologised profusely and even Des Bishop gave me a wave from side of stage. :)

We were asked to perform at Asylum for band Sub Rosa as they were SO IMPRESSED with our burlesque attire and unnatural man-oevers (!) but most of the girls bloused out on the idea of corset and suspenders for the second day, Una and myself gladly obliged the band (not so ably assisted by James who took to the Asylum stage in a wheelchair)

He really belonged in an Asylum that day!

He really belonged in an Asylum that day!

Sunday evening, we caught some Michael Franti’s second set of the weekend in Body and Soul and after a quick trip back to base for re-fueling of alcohol supplies hit up the Bodytonic tent for the first time this year.  Modeselector was amazing, and we were right in front of the stage, crowd going mental!! I have to say I found the dance tents (there were 3 in total this year, including Bodytonic) being outside of the main arena very disjointing and I think they should bring them back into the arena next year.  We spent so much time in Bodytonic last year, and because it was so far away, only got to it the once this year.  The Bernard Shaw tent really should have been equipt with pooltables and buckfast to be true to the pub roots too!!

Due to the rain, we missed the burning of the Temple of Truth at 2am on the Sunday night.  There was the most torrential downpour and everyone was forced to flee.  The Temple itself though was a new entry to EP and harks to the “Burning Man” concept.  Some of the things people had written on the Temple were truly moving and met some really nice people there when I hung out a bit on the Saturday night after Sigur Ros.

All in all, the Ecclectic Trip-nic was the highlight of the summer for me and although COMPLETELY different experience from last year, it definitly lived up to the premier festival in Ireland title which we have bestowed on it!!  But for how long…?  In only 1 year, the festival has grown so much and it really was a feast for the senses.  It was too difficult to get around and see everything in only 2 and a half days and I definitly could have gone for another day!  Is it getting too big??  Is there an opening for another ’boutique’ festival?  I have heard reports from the Life festival which got rave reviews this year.  I would just *hate* EP to turn into another Oxegen with teenagers trashing the place and ruining the lovely feel of the place.  I hope it won’t and I am already looking forward to next year and what it will bring.  Ooodles more fancy mess I imagine! :D

She's Electric

She's Electric!

Girl Geek Dinner comes to the Rebel County!

September 8, 2008

Last night I attended Cork’s First Girl Geek Dinner in Probys Bistro.  I had no idea what to expect, and only knew 1 other person going there before hand .  The Irish were in the minority with only myself and Katherine Nolan from the Emerald Isle, America was well represented with Sabrina, Alana James and of course the wonderful event organiser Martha Rotter in attendance.  Gabriela Avram travelled down from Limerick for the night.

It was quite informal with the conversation flowing fluidly, but we did all get around to telling the table what we did and passed around the business cards too (!).  We chatted about everything from Twitter to Paint Colours and had some giggles too!  The food was delicious and the plates were licked clean; despite the waitress forgetting to bring me my dessert (was it a hint I wonder?!) Probys was a great venue for the event.

I highly enjoyed the evening and it was great to meet influential women like that who are successful in their own businesses, but also can be such a positive force for me.  I will most certainly be attending the next one!  Thanks so much to Martha for organising it, great night enjoyed by all!

Last minute change of plan left me feeling Rosey!

August 27, 2008

Okay. So I know I blogged yesterday about the Rose of Tralee and how I wasn’t going, but would be watching from the comfort of my couch. Thing about dull and boring plans like that is (luckily) they change!! So there I was on the electric picnic website working away on Tuesday and I got a phone call at 20 to 6 from my friend William.

Ciara, get your ass down to Tralee. There are 15 of us sitting in a room making Rubix Cubes and we need you…this was your brainchild, you ‘ve GOT TO be here! Come on, we’ll make you a cube, sort out a ticket – just get in the car now and come. You’ll make it Ciara! Give it the Big One!!

Not short of persuasive skills is our Will, it took him all of 3 minutes to twist my rubber arm and like a flash I was throwing a toothbrush in a bag and slipping into the first dress I lay my hands on in my wardrobe. Left the house at 10 past 6 for Tralee, thinking “How on EARTH am I going to make this?! Am I MAD?!?” Literally FLEW to Tralee, (attempting to put my make up on while in the car!) and arrived at 20 to 8 – just before the Rose was due to start.

Will and James met me in the car park and proudly handed over RTE CREW PASSES which they managed to wangle somehow or other and I had just enough time to finish off the botched make up job, have a quick drink and get over to the Dome before it all kicked off!

The Dome is actually a long rectangular Marquee, but when you get inside you are enveloped by the dark ceiling complete with fairy lights which gives the whole place an rather special quality! We met up with the gang of other Roscommon supporters and true to their word, the lads had made me my very own Rubix Cube to wear and wave for the cameras!

Wave we did! When Triona came on, we all went mental, jumping around waving the Rubix cubes in the air. She did us proud, chatting to Ray like they were old friends and when crunch time came – to do the talent…she pulled it off without a hitch despite the manic cheering from us, the background music, the lights and Ray talking to her throughout!!

Aoife Kelly, Tipperary Rose

Aoife Kelly, Tipperary Rose

The whole show was amazing, the girls would put you to shame, they were all so articulate, well educated, well travelled and genuinely NICE! The Tipperary Rose ended up being crowned the Rose of Tralee for 2008 and it was well deserved, she is a stunning girl and was so great on the night.

Using the RTE Passes, we managed to blag our way into the Private RTE Room back in Fels Point, the hotel next to the Dome… Free wine, free food and the edible Daithi O’Se to boot!! ;) Had a lovely chat with Mary Kennedy who was one of the judges and also met Jenny Kelly who I only recognised when she opened her mouth and started talking! I cornered Ray D’Arcy too, who remembered me from the Regional Finals of the Rose when myself and James were the only 2 ‘human Rubix Cubes’ and the Spencer Tunick photo shoot in Cork where I ended up sitting next to him in the field offering him some of my Buckfast for dutch courage! As ever, Ray was so lovely, totally relaxed and chatted away to us for ages. We reminiced on the experience of being naked together (!) and I found out that the Roses are genuinely all that nice in person too!

Danced away till the wee hours back in the Dome after our brush with celebrity and the New Zealand Rose put on a fantastic Riverdance display for the crowd. William walked me back to my car at about half 2 and I threw the sleeping bag over me and managed to get some sleep in the car park of the Dome till I was woken at 6:30am by the lads for the trip back to Cork. We made it back in one piece and I made it to my Media Training Course with Damien Mulley on time at 10am despite not having much of a voice left and requiring copious amounts of coffee!

All in all, a fantastic night and a great experience to be part of such a wonderful festival such as the Rose of Tralee. I am more convinced than ever that I should enter next year now, the buzz about the whole thing is infectious!

Triona being crowned Rose of Roscommon

Triona being crowned Rose of Roscommon

Rubix Rose

August 26, 2008

It’s that time of year again and the annual Rose of Tralee festival is upon us. Now for those of you out there rolling your eyes to heaven right now, stop and open up to the concept that this is NOT just another beauty pagent and it is a very unique and special festival where extremely intelligent, competent and articulate young women get the opportunity to represent their county or city and be involved in something that is truely part of our heritage.

Like pretty much every girl in Ireland I have watched the Rose of Tralee religiously every year since I was a tiny tot (even if I didn’t always admit to it!) and have dreamt of being up there on stage some day with a beautiful gown on and with all my friends and family down in the audience proud as punch waving flags and banners in the air.

I never had the guts to enter myself, and never had any connection with the festival before till this year when I went to the Rose of Tralee Regional Finals in Portaloise back in June. I think Cork, Dublin and Karry Roses automatically get through and then the other irish counties (and a handful of international centers) battle it out at the Regional Final to whittle down the numbers before the main event in August.

Triona O’Connor is in college with my friend James, and when she got crowned as the Rose of Roscommon back in April, James insisted we go along to support her. So, off we hit for Portlaoise and met up with the other UCD Architecture Students in preparation for the big event. Triona has a pretty unique talent, so to show our support we ditched the traditional banner-making and opted for the ‘human-rubix-cube look’ instead!

Human Rubix Cubes

"Come on ROSCOMMON!!"

Naturally enough, we got more than a few weird looks walking through Portlaoise town that evening, and the old grannys sitting behind us at the event were none too pleased either. But Triona was glad of the support and even Ray D’arcy mentioned us from the stage! Triona did us all proud and solved the Rubix cube right there on stage next to D’arcy and with the music blasting and the spotlight on her, it was no easy task!

In the mass of poem recitals and singers, having a quirky talent payed off – and the Rose of Roscommon got through the Regionals and made it through to the Final of the Rose of Tralee!

The Beautiful Rose of Roscommon

The Beautiful Rose of Roscommon

She is taking to the stage of the Dome tonight and unfortunatly due to work commitments, I can’t don the box again and cheer for the most unusual Rose the festival is likely to see this year.

So tune in, take a gander and realise that the Rose of Tralee is not all about girly girls with buckets of fake tan, fake nails and hair pieces. Who knows, this might even spur me on to enter next year for the 50th anniversary. Now, what could my ‘talent’ be……….?!?!

Hitchhikers Guide to Ireland

August 20, 2008

A couple of weeks ago I was driving back from meetings in Killarney and spotted a couple of guys on the side of the road with big backpacks and a sign saying “Cork”. They looked friendly and harmless, so I pulled over and made space for them and their rucksacks and guitar in the back of my car and off we headed to Cork. Over the course of the journey I learned loads about the lads….they were in Ireland for 6 weeks with little more than a tent, a few euros in their pockets and a jar of peanut butter in their rucksacks. And not forgetting smiles on their faces :) They told me their travel tales….of the generaosity and warmth of the Irish, sleeping in peoples fields, being woken up with Rasher Sandwiches, of being mugged in an alley in Limerick and of sleeping under a boat in the Lee fields in Cork. These guys were hardcore! I was really impressed with their fearless approach to travel and got a great buzz from their energy and enthusiasm.

I was able to regail them with anecdotes from my own adventures….living in Ghana with no electricity and being proposed to by 25 men in a month (!), living in a van for 5 months in Australia and fending off attacks by various insects and hopping marsupials, and recognising the huge difference in American culture when living on either side of the coast, Conservative Boston Vs. Liberal San Francisco!

I took a shine to my loveable hitchhiking buddies and invitied them home for some dinner and a hot cup of tea. Poor fellas hadn’t eaten anything not bought in Aldi or Tesco since they got to Ireland! I quizzed them on their tour of Ireland and where they had been/where they were planning on going. I told them about Derrynane and persuaded them they HAD to come back to Kerry. They’d LOVE it I insisted!!

I wasn’t wrong!! Through the magic of facebook friends, we stayed in touch for the intervening few weeks and the lads emailed when they had hitchhiked all the way to Scotland! I wrote to let them know the date of the infamous Beach Bar Fancy Dress party which is held every August in O’Carrolls Cove Pub in Caherdaniel and suggested they timed their visit to Kerry to coincide with it. The lads booked the flights there and then!!

So, when I got a call from them last week, saying that they were back in Ireland, Tralee to be specific – I was delighted! They were really going to experience Irish hospitality and no small dose of madness into the bargain! We arranged to meet in Killarney on Friday evening after my meetings and they were instructed to go and source some costumes for the fancy dress party!

Friday afternoon, our paths crossed again when I picked the lads up from Killarney and we hit off for Caherdaniel over the beautiful Molls Gap Drive. I stopped at Ladies View and the boys were astounded by the views and the Lakes even through the misty fog. They confessed that they hadn’t done many touristy things while in Ireland….they were basically on a giant pub crawl!

We arrived at the Cove in horrible misty rain and went straight to my mobile home. The lads couldn’t get over how cosy it was and with my Mum serving us all up a huge buffet-style dinner of cold meats and salads, I’d say they thought they had died and gone to heaven. My Dad kept them laughing all the way through the meal and they fit right in with my whole family. Suddenly the tent wasn’t looking all that appealing…..could they sleep in my car they asked. I wasn’t too keen of the smell of their feet permeating my car, but how could I say no to their puppy-dog faces?!

The weekend started great with a table quiz in the pub, our team nearly got disqualified for having 13 members (!) but we threw an extra 20 yoyos in the pot and they turned a blind eye to our hugely expanded team. Most of the team were only mascots we explained! More of a hindrance than a help! My hitchhikers enjoyed themselves immensly (Guy in particular had a great night….he didn’t make it home!) and lets just say there were more than a few sore heads the next morning.

Saturday was lovely and sunny despite being a bit windy and I brought them to Derrynane beach for a long walk across the beach and back over the dunes. They were speechless. Best beach in Ireland they declared! Hey, who am I to argue?! IT IS!!!

Had a really chilled out day and went home for a slap up dinner again before getting ready for the fancy dress. I had my boot packed with all our costumes (the Crossans are renowned for their fancy dress antics) and 12 peoples costumes were put togther from the stash of stuff belonging to us! Half the campsite was up, asking for my help!!! My eyeliner and trampy red lipstick stash has been depleted rapidly! Everyone looked great and put in a brilliant effort into the night.

Fancy Mess!!

Fancy Mess!!

fancy-dress

Me and Mick do Tarzan and Jane

All in all, another great weekend for us all down in Kerry. For my hitchhiking buddies; Charlie and Guy, they said it was the best part of their tour of Ireland. I like to think that they were made to feel very welcome and were embraced into the group by my family and friends instantly. That’s why I love bringing people down there, it’s impossible not to have a good time!

It got me to thinking about travel and the joys of hitchhiking especially!! Anyone who has travelled at all will know that it is the people you meet, not the things you see or the places you stay that make your trip. I am not a 5 * bunny and I don’t know if I ever will be. Roughing it can be tough at times but at least you are open to all experiences and opportunities and are flexible enough to take things as they come. If the lads had a structured itinerary and booked tours and accomodation, they never would have come to Caherdaniel, met all of us and gotten involved in what was a superb fancy mess!

Mum, Dad, Uncle & Aunt, Rob the Ban Garda and ME!

They wanted to tour around Ireland, go where the road took them and experience Irish culture first hand. You have to admire them, they certainly did that! :)


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.