Archive for the ‘business’ Category

Book week: Interview with Kieran Murphy

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

Blog Award winning, book deal getting, amazing ice cream making Kieran Murphy runs Ice Cream Ireland the most torturous website in Ireland for those on diets. The blog has one acclaim all over for the quality of writing and the insights on ice cream. Kieran also answered some questions about blogging and books.

You’re the ice cream king in Ireland, certainly online. Why did you start the blog? Was it a business reason or did it just work out as being a great but accidental business decision?

It wasn’t accidental, although I never dreamed it would be so successful. I started the blog because I saw that blogging was in the news and was already aware of the potential because of successful bloggers out there, both in terms of web traffic and profile. One of our goals as a company was to become known experts in our field (ice cream), which certainly helps with the press. In addition, I wanted to create a forum for Murphys Ice Cream customers and potential customers for feedback and new ideas. Both of those goals have been largely successful. Finally, I love what I do and wanted to share it both with customers/potential customers and other interested parties.

Your blog is constantly referenced in articles as being a great example of a business blog. Do you feel under pressure to perform if you will and to work harder on what you write on the blog?

I don’t think so. I enjoy writing the blog, and although I’m pleased by the mentions, it doesn’t really change what I do. I’m quite certain I’d continue as long as my readers are interested – with or without any acclaim.

Have other businesses approached you asking for advice on how it’s done?

No. It’s a bit surprising to me, since I see it as such a good thing, but I haven’t been approached by anyone. In fact, I’ve tried to convince some friends who are business people to start a blog with no success.

In terms of importance to the business and priorities, where does the blog come?

It’s not a big priority in terms of the business, but rather something I do mostly in my spare time. We don’t have meetings about the blog or plan content or anything like that. It really is an on-line journal of the issues I find important at the moment or recipes with which I or my production team have been playing. It’s a big time commitment, but I don’t mind since I enjoy it so much.

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give a business that wants to start a blog?

A business blog should contain information that is useful to the readers. There must be a pay-off for them visiting your site. In my case it’s the recipes as well as tips and tricks and information about Kerry and a personal point of view. Company propaganda is unlikely to interest many people…

Congrats on the book deal. How did that come about?

The book came directly from the blog. An editor at our publisher was a fan both of the blog and our ice cream, saw the potential for an ice cream cookbook, and contacted me. Needless to say, my brother and I were delighted. We then put together a book proposal, which their board approved.

When is the book coming out? How is it going to be marketed?

The Book of Sweet Things will come out in April and should be available in Irish bookshops nationwide and on Amazon. In terms of marketing, we will market it in conjunction with the publishers. They have a wealth of experience in terms of marketing books. From our side, we will mount a PR campaign both in traditional media and on-line. Of course, we also expect to sell a good few copies through our own Murphys Ice Cream shops in Dingle and Killarney.

What’s the work regime for putting the book together? Is there a certain amount of time set aside each day?

That would probably be the best way to do it, but since our business is so seasonal, I didn’t really get anything done until the summer season was past, and I then put the book together in a few months of intense work. My brother covered all the other parts of the business to give me the space to do so and helped with the editing.

Putting a book together is new to you, I assume? Did you get advice from a few people on how to do it?

It is new to me, but I didn’t get advice except from my brother and parents, who were very helpful. I figured the publishers like what they saw on the blog, so I simply continued in that vein. Of course, a cookbook is very different from other books, since so much of it is simply recipes. It requires less writing and more testing than other types of books! I also did the photography myself, and that was very time-consuming.

You’ve done pieces for the Irish Times, you’ve done the book, have you been approached by a TV company about doing a series on icecream?

Not yet, but that would be great fun!

What’s next after the book?

I’ll get back to the ice cream. There’s always so much to do and much to improve, and there is a new season coming up. It’s really my first love. In the longer term, I do like writing, and I would like to do more of it. Whether that means another book or media writing depends on what comes my way.

ComReg to spend close to 3/4 Million to decide on a decision to break up eircom

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

From here:

ComReg wishes to announce that it has awarded four contracts to three sets of consultants, for consultancy services advising on eircom’s proposed structural separation. The total value of all four contracts awarded is €712,846

Consultancies who will write a report, that will end up with ComReg coming to a decision about eircom, which will lead to a public consultation, which will lead to a further decision which will lead to what exactly…

I don’t think they have the moxy or the power to split them. eircom have said they’re splitting, not like they can be stopped.

Book week: Interview with Grandad

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

I sent a good few questions to Grandad about blogs and books and life and er porn. Below are the jumble of questions and below that are some very insightful answers.

So, tell us about the blog to start with. What’s it for? Who is it for?

You seem to have a massive community around your blog which gets bigger and bigger. What’s it like to have a daily audience and to have people there every day waiting for your words? Do you feel more pressured to perform nowadays?

I remember the day well when Michele told us all to check out the blog. It wasn’t soon before you were on TV talking about it too. And now a book. You hit the ground running and life is getting more and more interesting for you. When you first considered blogging, did you think it was going to be anything like this?

It has to be asked. OAP porn. You seem to get the most fucked up searches coming to you. You got a book deal, had any other type of “offers” from Adult entertainment or “niche” content producers?

So the book deal. Wow. Congrats. How did that come about?

You talk about the regime for getting the book started? Has your day become very regimented now? What’s your work ethic? Have you done any projects like this before?

When is the book out? What kind of marketing will be involved, do you think?

What’s next? Going to try and get O’Shea’s slot and spend time on the couch with Seoige?

Like it or not, you are now a role model to other bloggers. What advice would you give to them about blogging or getting a book deal?

** ** **
Answers from Grandad

OK. The blog…. You can blame Michele for that. I can’t remember where it happened [I think it was on the phone?], but in mid October 2006 we were talking about blogging. I knew absolutely nothing about it. I had read one or two blog posts, but that was it. I threatened to start a blog, and Michele told be that under no circumstances was I to do so, and that if I did, that no one would be safe! I took that as a challenge, and set up a blog the next day. Again, I didn’t even realise there were free blogging platforms at that time, so I set it up on its own server.

As I didn’t know what blogging was about, I just wrote whatever came into my head. I have more or less continued that to this day. Sometimes I have an idea, and sometimes I don’t but just write. Strangely, the spontaneous ones often get a better reaction. The concept of Grandad railing at tourists and Americans just evolved. In fact, since the blog started, I have gained quite a respect for Americans. It’s now the Irish I blame for embracing the American culture to the detriment of our own!

I don’t know how my community grew, or why the blog is popular. I write for my own amusement. If possible I try to make it amusing. I think it was just a case of being in the right place at the right time. Sheer luck. I don’t consider myself a writer, and had never written anything before, let alone published anything. My first break came when Sinead Gleeson was approached by the Irish Times to write about blogging. She was asked to suggest other bloggers, and for some reason, she chose me. I don’t know why. That was my first ever published article! Then I was approached to do the CapitalD thing. Again, I was amazed. It was great fun filming though. Strangely, neither the Times or RTE increased public awareness that much.

I think the first time I realised I might be on to something was when I was nearly shortlisted last year in the Irish Blog Awards as Best Newcomer. The next big break was when I was invited by Dario Sanchez [now no longer blogging] to join in a podcast with some people in America. That podcast has been running ever since. We lost Dario, but have since gained Baino from Australia. The podcast was a toehold into the States, and they now account for the majority of my readers.

I was recording the podcast yesterday, when one of the contributors pointed out that I hadn’t blogged yet. This was at 1.30pm here [7.30am, his time]. He said the first thing he always did at 6am was read my latest post, and he was pining. Others have commented too if I am late in writing, so I do seem to have created a pool of conditioned readers. Yes. That does cause a certain pressure. In fact, I am going away this week, so for the first time in fifteen months, I won’t be blogging. I will have to put up a warning to this effect!!

As for the way the site has developed – I am at a total loss. I hit a Feedburner figure yesterday of 285 which amazes me. A lot of it was to do with an article I wrote in October last about “How to drink a pint of Guinness”. Donncha Stumbled that, and the reaction was unbelievable. I had 26,000 visits from that one Stumble, and a lot of them stayed. Then I was shortlisted for the Net Visionary Awards. That amazed me, but the biggest shock was the Golden Spider. There was no way on earth that I expected that one!! Now I have the Digital Media Awards coming up. I’m shortlisted but I don’t think I’ll win. Leastwise, it’s very unlikely I’ll be going.

The book came about from an email. It was as simple as that. I got an email one day from Mercier Press, saying that they had been reading my blog, and would I like to write a book? We had discussions about it, and as you will have seen from today’s posting [Sunday], a novel sort of evolved from the discussion. I actually signed the contract on the day of the Spiders.

It is very hard going for a first timer. Usually what I do is spend the morning catching up with work. I than have a nap, and try to spend a few hours at the book. Some days I miss altogether, but generally it has become a routine. Some days it goes very well. Other days I panic. I will doubtless be meeting with the publishers when the first draft is done, and we’ll probably discuss marketing then.

The Senior Porn? Hah! That started out when I wrote a post about spam I was receiving. I inadvertently used all the wrong keywords, and of course that ranked me even higher. So, to an extent, I have encouraged it. Of my top 10 search term in the last month, only two are non-porn related!!! The Paris Hilton Naked Pussy went down very well. I rank very highly for her now. I am now an expert at search engine rankings! I even out-rank Cully and Sully and get a lot of searches for them. So far, no offers from that sector of my market 🙁

As for what’s next? I haven’t a clue? I play things by ear. If the book does well, then maybe write another? And if it doesn’t, then I still have my other business [which refuses to die]. I never have high expectations and have already got a bet on that my book sales won’t exceed 500. So I’m not buying a suit to appear on The Plank’s show. I wouldn’t mind an appearance on Podge and Rodge though? Seoige? Forget it! Ni Bheolain? Bring her on!

You ask my advice? I don’t know. I don’t really know what I’m doing that is right. One thing I have toyed with is a blog on how to blog. But that is a bit like a writers course. If you can’t write, then you can’t be taught. But the kind of advice I would give in the blog, apart from the technical side of plug-ins and design, would be to have a rapport with the readers. I try to respond to as many comments as I can. They have taken the trouble to comment on my blog, so not only do I feel I should respond, but that it’s only fair that I comment on their blogs too. As for getting a book deal? They came to me. I think that more and more publishers are going to turn to the blogging world for fresh meat. They can see whether there is potential. If they think a blog is good enough, they will make the approach.

You say I’m a role model???????? I did notice a few times in the past that I wrote something, and not long after, a few other bloggers copied my style. I think I was one of the first to start writing about my search terms? That seems to have caught on. There are a few other quirks of mine that have suddenly become familiar elsewhere too!

Tools for press relations – Irish Media Contacts Directory

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

I was sent a free copy of the Irish Media Contacts directory this week and thought I’d blog about it as I’m already a use of it. I was working off an older one so this is handier for me now. While I have a nice press list I built up over time (and thanks to some silly communications managers using the CC field instead of the BCC field it has grown another good bit in the past 6 month) this book is more than email addresses. It’s a very good way of seeing how the press actually operates in Ireland and puts names behind those generic email addresses too.

In a way it’s like having profiles of the orgs you are sending a release to and that is very important. I’ve previously written a post on how best to approach Irish Journalists and the 100 quid a year for a May and November edition is well well worth the money. Think how much you’d pay to get hold of a press list of business journos and then see what this has 1000s of contacts.

As Piaras points out, the website itself is worth checking out, especially if you are looking for a PR/media job. If you are thinking of doing a press release or a campaign for your org or are a journalist looking for work, I think this should be one of your first purchases. Anyone got other suggestions for good resources?

Long List Sneak peak – Best Food and Wine Blog

Monday, January 28th, 2008

The listing is here. Stay tuned to the Awards website to get the full long list on Wednesday.

Praise: John Blackbourn

Monday, January 28th, 2008

I don’t do many of these posts because I’m a difficult person and worse to please but I thought I’d highlight the work of John Blackbourn as I’m quite impressed. I was intro’d via Conor O’Neill to him and had him rebuild Politics In Ireland for me which he did and made a fantastic job of it. I’m really thrilled with it and already have him lined up for the next few iterations. He also built for me and again I’m really chuffed at what he did. He was also the person that redesigned and rebuilt Irish Election and is doing a few more projects for others here in Ireland.

John built the nomination system for the Blog Awards this year and the judging system, that while is unseen is a really nice piece of technology that will make the headaches of assigning judges and counting their points a hell of a lot easier, especially with over 70 judges and 750 blogs to judge over two different rounds.

I’ve also booked John to do work for me on about three other projects I want to do for 2008. The best bit about John is you explain your idea and he’ll do it but also give suggestions that actually improve what you wanted and make it much better. There are lots of good programmers but only a subset have great creative flare but at the same time he’s far from being a prima donna so work gets done. I have found that some brilliant and creative types are a pain in the ass to deal with because they will refuse to do something which they disagree with. John thankfully is not that type. Maybe that’s why he gets so much repeat business.

Helvetica is on Google Video (not for long I would guess)

Friday, January 25th, 2008

Helevetica, the documentary about a typeface is on Google Video right now. Go and load it up and watch. If you are into that sort of thing. It’s worth buying the genuine DVD by the way.

ComReg Report says VDSL not going to happen, kinda suggests ComReg is to blame

Thursday, January 24th, 2008

Gowls. (Word of the week in case you wondered.)

So ComReg paid a lot of cash for a report on subloop unbundling in Dublin and it paints a dire picture for the future of broadband in Ireland. The idea of subloop unbundling is that instead of having equipment in an exchange, the equipment is in those tiny cabinets in the estate or in the basement of an apartment complex and VDSL which is like higher speed DSL will then bring you broadband on your copper lines. It’s like bringing fibre closer to the home but not completely there.

From page 6:

The largest costs faced by OAOs in deploying SLU are the charges for line rental, co-location at the street cabinet and the backhaul link to the MDF. In all three cases, it seems unlikely that competition will provide lower prices than those available from eircom. Therefore, the possibility of obtaining a fair price from eircom for these services will be important if OAOs are to be encouraged to deploy SLU.

On balance, therefore, we believe that an OAO can construct a positive business case for SLU in
the Dublin area, but only under the following conditions:
– there are significant reductions in the costs of SLU
– OAOs are optimistic regarding the incremental revenue from SLU over LLU
– OAOs only deploy to large cabinets (over 300 lines), and possibly medium-sized ones
(150–299 lines).

Remember line rental for LLU is 14.67 a month. Ripoff expensive. Then there’s paying to get to those small cabinets and if eircom doesn’t share em, you might have to build your own. Planning permission nightmares.

Sub Loop Pricing

The report tries to be positive but if you read it yourself you’ll see that they’re actually say NOT A CHANCE.

Still on page 6:

Given that the business case for SLU in the Dublin area is challenging, we believe that the business case will be difficult in other areas of Ireland, where the line density per cabinet is likely to be lower and the backhaul costs greater.

And from page 7, it’s like a list of things that will never ever happen:


Our study shows that OAOs can construct a commercially attractive business case for SLU under certain conditions. To ensure that they would be able to implement this in the future, it is important that any potential future VDSL roll-out by eircom does not have a significantly detrimental impact on competition, and we have the following recommendations:

  • Given ComReg’s responsibility to promote competition, it should now be considering how best to remove potential barriers (including supporting processes) to a successful deployment of SLU.
  • The component prices for SLU should be reviewed, both in absolute terms and relative to LLU.
  • It will be important for there to be a flexible and competitively priced wholesale bitstream product in addition to SLU.
  • Though eircom is planning to offer unbundlers adjacent co-location at its street cabinets, it will be important for OAOs to have access to eircom’s cabinets, since the installation of duplicate cabinets is likely to be uneconomic and/or suffer from other constraints such as local planning. ComReg should consider ensuring that eircom offers co-location space in its street cabinets. Further work should be carried out to establish the magnitude of the cost to eircom of deploying cabinets large enough to accommodate unbundlers’ equipment.
  • It will be important for OAOs to have access to an affordable, fibre-based, backhaul product from eircom as it would uneconomical in most cases for OAOs to replicate this infrastructure. Options for such a product include duct access, dark fibre or Ethernet products.

Blogging Week 2008 – Cork dinner March 2nd

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

Righto. WebCamp/BlogTalk is happening in Cork from March 2nd to March 4th. For those able to recover from the Irish Blog Awards, who wants to do a dinner on the Sunday night in Cork and meet Salim amongst other people? We can have yet another (TechCludd is the first) Paddy’s Valley reunion.

How should PR companies “engage” with Irish bloggers?

Monday, January 21st, 2008

I’ll be giving a private talk to a PR company in the next few weeks about being a blogger and the company wants to know how to engage with us blogging folk. Since I have not yet held that coup and installed myself as an evil overlord (Twenty is so going to beat me to it anyway) I thought I’d ask your opinion on it on how you see it. There are two-three PR people that blog in Ireland, Tom Murphy, Piaras Kelly and Rosemarie Meleady, though she blogs about weddings and it would be nice to see more PR people around the blogging landscape.

My own view is that PR companies should all be blogging in some way in order for the “community” to get to know them. Best way of exchanging information is sharing the same space as bloggers while adhering to some kind of politeness rules. No spamming in other words. Even without a blog, all PR agencies should have RSS feeds for all their releases. Sending press releases to bloggers though… are they of value to a blogger or to the PR company apart from an increment in an excel sheet to give to the client? Tom Coates certainly reacts strongly to getting shite press releases from PR companies.

What about events? I think yes, a blogger can still be a blogger and report on the event, if it interests them. The Young Scientist is a good example. How many press invited, how many bloggers? How many links online as a result? How many different opinions on the Young Scientist out there? How many just rewrote the final press release?

A nice initiative was Science Week that encouraged bloggers to blog answers to daily questions. The bribe of a Wii also helped but it is a good start to get people talking about science. I like ideas like that.

I think the unfortunate term “new media” had made PR companies think (lazily) that the same rules of engagement apply to bloggers as to existing journalists. Not that existing journos are very happy with the way some PR companies bombard them with crap. And as I wrote that last sentence I get a press release from an Irish PR company about the opening of a Conrad hotel in China. Jesus.

So fellow bloggers, how would you want to be approached by PR companies?
Not at all?
Should they blog and you can information from them that way? RSS feeds?
Would you be interested in press releases from them?
Would you be interested in free trials of various things that they are sending out?
Would you take ads from their clients or do paid blog posts?

I asked this question on Twitter a while back and Deborah pointed to this very good blog post on the matter from a Mummy blogger.