Dublin's reputation as tech hub opens opportunities for PR pros

Owen Cullen, MD at Cullen Communications, discusses the city's emergence from the recession and its new reputation as a hub for tech giants.

What’s the PR climate like in Dublin?
It is a small market, but it is quite competitive in relation to PR. Most agencies started off as independent shops. A lot of people who established them previously worked in PR, either with firms or in-house, or were journalists or involved with public affairs.

As they developed over time, a number of agencies were sold to larger, international brands. Some firms have remained independent, but aligned to agency networks – for example, we are a member of the Public Relations Global Network. Then you have your boutique firms and smaller players.

What is it like for a young professional to break into PR in Dublin?
Five years ago, we didn’t have any intern roles. We have now seen that become more commonplace, which is generating good opportunities for graduates. It is encouraging to see that PR is now a desirable industry, which means agencies such as Cullen are getting the best talent available.

However, the skill set is changing somewhat. Employers are looking for some added qualifications – such as a basic degree and a master’s in PR or public affairs and social sciences. We are always looking for someone who possesses that little bit extra, who can create a spark, and bring it into a team environment.

How did the recession affect the industry?
Budgets were cut and unfortunately some companies did not come out the other side of it. 

Cullen built its business based on a lot of long-term relationships. Some of our clients have been with us for more than 20 years. Companies continued to keep their PR accounts with us because they valued the role of communications, whereas some advertising budgets were completely closed.

It was good from an agency perspective, but we did find ourselves over-servicing accounts to ensure clients stayed with us. We invested in them while they were suffering a little bit. Hopefully, as we start to emerge from some tough times, those different areas that we expanded into will now be seen on their own. Social media fits into that fold.

What sectors will drive the Irish economy in the coming year?
The Irish economy is now in strong recovery mode and the sectors that are mainly driving growth include food production, agriculture, pharmaceuticals and, in particular, the high-tech industry.

Ireland is home to many of the world’s largest technology firms – Google, Facebook, and Amazon, to name a few – and Dublin is fast acquiring a reputation as a global tech hub, not only for the big players, but also for the thriving startup and entrepreneurial community.

How hard is it to find talent in the city?
There is a significant and fairly continuous amount of junior- and mid-level movement in the PR industry and, with the right investment in recruitment strategy, there is no great difficulty in filling roles at these levels.

PR is an attractive career and the talent is definitely there, but finding top talent is slightly more difficult. And because the Irish market isn’t very big, the pool of available senior executives is relatively small.

What services are clients asking you for most?
The clients we work with on a retainer basis would generally be looking for a core PR consultancy, which includes media services, strategic communications, social media management, and ongoing services including media training and crisis preparation.

There would also be regular milestone-type services such as event or sponsorship management, digital marketing programs, and different kinds of promotional work.

Content creation has become a priority for brands in Ireland and that trend is expected to strongly continue. Clients understand that top-quality, original content is the best way to connect with customers across social platforms. Those that are ahead of the game are actively investing in content creation as part of their annual communications strategies.  

From an agency perspective, fresh content is the only way we are going to drive consumers to our own website. It is no different for our clients.

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National Digital Research Centre
Exchange Building,
Crane St., Dublin 8, Ireland

Public Relations Institute of Ireland
84 Merrion Square,
Dublin 2, Ireland
(+353) 1 661-8004

Dublin Chamber of Commerce
7 Clare Street,
Dublin 2, Ireland
(+353) 1 644-7200

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