After 35 years working in the newspaper, including 15 as brand manager at the Evening Echo, Ray Lougheed has always been at the cutting edge of new media technology.
Having seen print media go from hot metal presses to digital designing, Mr Lougheed is now introducing the latest public communications technology to Ireland through Admirror, which offers real-time updates on screens anywhere in the workplace.
I started back in 1980 in the Examiner as a compositor. My father had worked there before me, and my grandfather had been a compositor in another print works. It was the family business so I followed. Back when I did my training in the RTC - now Cork Institute of Technology - we were woking with hot metal, the old type of printing. The changes since then have been unbelievable.
In 1988 I moved to the systems room with the paper, a new department set up to look after our computer mainframe that looked after things like advertising. There were 12 of us selected to move there and set it up, and we had to do all kinds of psychometric tests to see if we were the right fit. That started to expand and became the systems communication room. We started looking after telex machines and picture wire machines. We also introduced the Tandy remote machines. They allowed reporters to send in copy from outside through a phone line. They were the precursor to the laptop. Before that, they would have had to phone in all their copy to the copy-takers.
As the 1990s went on, that technology started to change, so I I did a diploma in PR and moved into newspaper sales for a year. I was driving around North Cork and Waterford, serving the advertisers and newsagents. Then I came back and became the brand manager for the Evening Echo, where I stayed until 2015. I was responsible for sponsorship and marketing the brand. During that time I did a degree in marketing. The opportunity to finish up that and move on came along, and I decided to set up my own marketing and communications business.
In March of last year, I was a presentation out in EMC organised by Cork Chamber, and we were told about the internet of things and how it all would work. One of the examples was Admirror, and then I was able to get their contract for Ireland. It's a connected digital display unit that can show information in real time. If I had fifty of these out around the country, I could update the content in all of them from my computer here. It's all based in the cloud, and the displays are adaptable and can show video or social media streams, depending on what is needed at the times.
Companies can use them for engaging with staff and delivering important information quickly. You can deliver health safety messages, which is something I would be particularly interested in with the pharma plants around Cork, or you can make company announcements or share staff successes. It's an opportunity for the company to promote directly to staff. It can be difficult for companies to disseminate information. If you look at some of the plants around Cork, they have six to ten different plants on site. These would be located in places like reception areas and washrooms around the sites, allowing you to disseminate information quickly, where people can engage with it.
I've been down to Ringaskiddy to a number of the different plants, and the feedback has been very positive. Across the continent, there has been a great take-up of the units, and I'm hoping to replicate that here in Ireland.