It’s not all doom and gloom… but we have to talk about it
MKC first started the company blog in April 2009 and our first blog post was entitled ‘Everyone Needs to Be Out There Selling Ireland’. Ireland was in the eye of the storm concerning negative international press and that blog suggested that every citizen had a role in protecting and enhancing Ireland’s reputation.
The President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Ireland (disclosure: MKC Client), spoke throughout that year of the detrimental impact this negative press was having on Ireland’s reputation as an investment location. The reality of its impact was brought home sharply last week at the official opening of the international operating headquarters of Xtralis in Ireland.
Xtralis is the world’s leading provider of early detection and visual verification safety and security solutions with more than 50,000 customer sites in more than 100 countries around the world. Think of any landmark building – Sydney Opera House, the Eiffel Tower, Capitol Hill Building in Washington – and the chances are Xtralis is protecting it.
Samir Samhouri, the CEO of Xtralis was very direct in his comments. The company spent three years looking for a suitable location for its international operating HQ. Ireland was not on the radar during this time because of the negative international press about the country and its economic woes. The Xtralis investment, which will see 50 jobs created here, was lost to Ireland until Mr. Samhouri met the Taoiseach at the expansion of Carlow Company Netwatch (another MKC Client!) into North America last February. So impressed was he with the Taoiseach’s commitment to ‘making Ireland the best small country in the world to do business’ and of the Taoiseach’s support for a small indigenous company like Netwatch, that the next day he ordered his finance people to investigate Ireland as an investment location.
So, a good news story for Ireland and one would expect that the 15+ journalists who turned up at the event might have been interested in reporting. Unfortunately not. The assembled hacks chose to stand in a room beside the official function area and chat among themselves while waiting for the Taoiseach to finish his speech. Only one journalist, Fionnan Sheehan of the Irish Independent actually came in to listen to what the CEO and the Taoiseach had to say. Suzanne Lynch from the Irish Times also attended the official lunch. When I asked a TV reporter why he wouldn’t go out and listen to the good news story in the next room, I got a shrug of the shoulders and a mumbled excuse. (Both Fionnan and Suzanne ran news stories the following day, with the Irish Times carrying an extensive interview with Samir Samhouri, which gave the story significant prominence).
Now, after 25 years in this industry, I fully realise that the journalists who follow the Taoiseach are only interested in discussing the political stories of the day when they doorstep him at such events. However, surely it should be possible to also cover the news story of the event the Taoiseach is attending, particularly when it is a positive story of investment and job creation? Plenty of jobs announcements have garnered only small snippets of coverage over the past year while negative stories about the IMF, budget cuts and property taxes dominate the newspapers. This is not to suggest that the media become a clarion call for all things positive, but a bit of balance would be welcome.
If we as citizens and media organisations are not out there selling Ireland and combating negativity, there are plenty of other countries who will willingly take our place as the best small country in the world to business.
It’s time we started embracing the good news with the same vigour as the bad.