“Why do you want to move back to Ireland?” asked the editor of the national newspaper in London where I was working in 2002. After 11 years working in Britain, I had been offered a job in Dublin and had decided to take it.
By Ciaran Byrne
My editor was struggling for the words and then they came to him…
“Ireland is, well, it’s… it’s… it’s…. it’s full of bungalows,” he spluttered.
We both burst out laughing and after moving on from talking bungalows, we had a good discussion.
We spoke about the then developing Celtic Tiger as well as the peace process and I walked him through the Irish media landscape as it then was; no real variety, almost completely print-focused, no online pioneers. Content? A word absolutely nobody used.
What struck me most was how little he knew about my country and I certainly didn’t hold it against him; that was simply the culture. Most UK journalists consumed the Irish story through the prism of Northern Ireland and the Troubles.
The North took up a lot of time and resources. Most British media outlets had an ‘Ireland Correspondent’ based in Belfast but with their hands full covering the violence and then the outbreak of peace, they rarely ventured south of the border.
The Republic was a blank spot; my editor knew the Irish Times and that my friend, the respected Irish journalist Alan Ruddock, had launched the Ireland edition of the Sunday Times —but he could name no other media.
He knew the usual suspects in arts, rock music and literature, he was unable to name a single southern Irish politician.
Oddly, he knew all about Munster rugby but thought it was town, not a province.
So, he knew Ireland shared a common language with Britain and, to some extent, the same kind of political system and state machinery that helps to run the UK, but very little else.
With hindsight, he was probably a little bit right about the bungalows. There are quite a lot them…
In two years’ time, Ireland will become the only English-speaking nation in the European Union.
For many UK firms, that means the need to have a Brexit plan in place with many considering setting up shop in Dublin or elsewhere.
This presents UK brands of all sizes with different cultural and logistical challenges. In Ireland, they will discover a wonderful country but one with subtle quirks and different social habits.
In shaping and telling their stories, British firms will need to understand a unique Irish PR, content, media and online landscape and gain insight into our system of government and processes.
We’ve worked at the most senior levels in the British national media and we’ve also managed Ireland’s biggest newsrooms.
That puts us in a unique position of having a pretty good inside track on what works and what doesn’t —as well as enjoying quality relationships and contacts with the country’s most influential journalists.
As Ireland’s first dedicated storytelling agency, StoryLab has developed an envied track record in helping large and small brands to define their stories and place them at the heart of their communications.
Our team of journalists and visual storytellers can help you to shape a Brexit plan for Ireland, whether it’s media intelligence, story development or a long-term PR strategy.
We put stories in front of the people who matter. Check out our Brexit PR services and find out how we can help you cut through in Ireland. Make your own Céad Mile Fáilte!