Name: Niamh Murphy.
Lives: Upper Glanmire.
Job title: Director/Owner of ETC
Salary bracket: As I’m self-employed, it really depends on whether we’re had a good month or year!
Education background: I went to Scoil Mhuire Gan Smal in Blarney, before undertaking a BA in English and History at UCC. During this time, I wrote for the University Examiner, where I further developed my love of writing. I wanted to combine writing with event management and someone suggested PR/marketing, so I moved to Dublin to undertake a postgraduate diploma in PR and event management at Smurfit Business School, a course run by The Fitzwilliam Institute. At the time, there were no marketing courses in Cork. It was 2003 and I was 21 when I finished my postgrad.
Hobbies: Yoga, pilates, movies, fashion, walking, reading and hanging out in coffee shops or wine bars with friends, inevitably with a chocolate brownie to hand, spending quality time with my family. I’m also slightly addicted to social media, but hey that’s my job! If I don’t have a book to read at night, I’m not a happy camper. Unfortunately, cooking is not a skill I possess, but I try!
Describe your job in five words: Varied, exciting, busy, challenging, satisfying.
Describe yourself in five words: Driven, creative, reliable, caring, proactive.
Personality needed for this kind of work? Attention to detail is incredibly important, especially when you are juggling multiple clients and projects simultaneously. Anyone who has ever worked with me will tell you I’m a stickler for to-do lists and keeping on top of the workload. Lots of people get into PR and marketing because they think it’s all fun and parties — there are of course the perks, but we’re responsible for driving sales in a company and public perception, so the day to day role is very demanding.
You definitely need to be outgoing, as we spend a lot of the day talking to or meeting with clients, suppliers and the media. Outgoing but not fake. You have to be proactive and be able to work on your own initiative. It’s also important to enjoy keeping up to date with the latest trends and to have an interest in the media in general. Clients need to know you are at the end of the phone if they need you. You also need to be able to hold your own with senior figures and personalities as, on any given day, I could meet the CEO of a company, a celebrity or a government official. Flexibility is also key as it’s not a nine to five job, especially now with social media. I have to travel to Dublin frequently, which result in long days or overnights.
How long are you doing this job? 15 years.
How did you get this job? I started off, like most marketing graduates, in a six-month internship. My placement was with RMG Chart Entertainment, who represented a variety of artists included David Grey and Paddy Casey. I was thrown in the deep end into a PR role, as the PR manager had just left, but I really loved it. Highlights included attending VIP music parties, where I met a wide range of celebrities. After my internship, I was moved into a marketing exec role in the company, which was very much sales-based, and I really did not enjoy it. It’s difficult when you’re so young and come up against a stumbling block like that, but I remember my teacher in school once saying the most interesting people in life change things up when needed, so I quit! I actually went off to Spain for the summer with friends to reconsider my next move.
When I came back, I knew PR was where my heart was, so I literally applied for hundreds of jobs. I got my first big break with Bance Nolan in Waterford, where I worked on projects for Waterford Institute of Technology, the Tower Hotel Group, American Chamber of Commerce (SE), South-East Regional Airport, and Diageo.
When that contract came to an end, I moved back to Cork where I was lucky enough to get a position with Hopkins Communications, after pestering Mary Hopkins to go for a coffee with me. Mary has probably been my biggest mentor and is still a good friend. From her, I learned my work ethic and not to fear anything.
After a number of years with Hopkins, I was approached by Michael Flatley and took on a role as his publicist and PA. It was a really exciting time, working with international marketing professionals and event promoters, managing high profile events and media tours, travelling the world, and I was even lucky enough to work on a number of US and Irish TV shows. I was also the Flatleys’ PA and really felt part of their family, but after two great years, I decided to make the move to Dublin where my now husband was working at the time.
I got a great role with BespokeWithDirection, now called The Reputations Agency, which is part of the DDFH&B Group, one of the biggest marketing agencies in the country. My love of marketing really developed there, and I was surrounded by people who were truly at the top of their field. I headed-up PR campaigns for RTÉ, Failte Ireland, Kerry Foods, General Mills, Mazda, Brennan’s Bread and Unilever, amongst others, and won four national and international marketing awards.
Both my husband and I are from Cork, and it was inevitable we would return, so when Mary Hopkins offered me the position as a director of the agency at the age of 29, we decided to relocate home. I stayed with Hopkins for the next five years, where I secured exciting projects like the Irish Open and the Titanic100 commemoration events.
In early 2016, I decided it was time to make a move, and set up my own agency, ETC, with Damien O’Mahony, who was the head of TEAM (Tourism, Events, Arts and Marketing) at Cork City Council. We have three main areas of expertise — event management, tourism development, and communications/marketing, hence the name ETC (pronounced etcetera). We are thrilled to have an exciting portfolio of clients, including Kilkenny Group, Croke Park visitor attractions, The Nightmare Realm, Iceskating.ie, TG4, Blackrock Castle, and the Choral Festival. We were really proud to win the pitch for the International Space Studies Program that came to Cork last summer — an eight week conference with 320 international space delegates. I was also the editor of Go Wild Magazine, which focuses on the Wild Atlantic Way, and Go Ancient East, which concentrates on Ireland’s Ancient East, but I gave those up recently to concentrate on our main business.
I think I’m living up to my teacher’s advice about having a varied career! Varied yet all leading in the same direction.
Do you need particular qualifications or experience? To get into marketing, most companies will expect you to have a degree and many will also want a postgrad/masters in the area you want to focus on. However, if you are passionate enough, and have a flair, you could still break into the industry on an internship. After that, it’s all down to relevant experience.
Describe a day at work: No two days are the same, except for the speed and level of pace at which we work. I could be travelling for a meeting to Dublin, working on a tender/pitch for new business, organising an event, writing an article, liaising with the media on possible features, putting together a media plan (advertising budgets), briefing staff, updating social media pages, meeting clients, or brainstorming creative ideas for upcoming campaigns.
I do, however, always start and end my day by clearing as many emails as possible and always try to reply to clients on the same day.
How many hours do you work a week? When we started the business I was working 60+ hours a week. Thankfully, now we have a really strong team, so I work on average a 40-hour week, and sometimes, if I need to, I catch up at weekends..
Is your job stressful? How? Rate it on a scale of 1-10: It can vary from 5-9. I try not to get stressed but it is and can be hectic. I’m good at juggling a lot at the same time, and to be honest, that’s needed, but sometimes there are a lot of urgent deadlines.
Do you work with others or on your own? I’m really lucky to work with a great team of people. I also work a lot with marketing managers in companies, and we’re like their extended team.
When do you plan to retire or give up working? Not any time soon! I love my job and it has become part of my personality.
Best bits: The variety of work, no two days are ever the same and you don’t have time to get bored. The different people you get to meet – you could experience 20 different careers in one week. The ability to be able to work from anywhere. The creative side. Being my own boss.
Worst bits: The hours can be long and you always feel you have more to do. The unpredictability — you can never really plan a week.
Advice to those who want your job? Make sure you have an interest in the media and what’s happening around you, that you’re super organised and you have the ability to multitask. Work in progressive companies that will develop your skills. Get as much varied experience as you can, then decide what area you want to focus on.
Finally, work hard and have common sense – if you have those two traits, you’ll go far.
For more see www.e-t-c.ie