When I was asked to be interviewed for this, I hesitated, to be honest. I’ve been in the press a lot lately, either for our firm, our client firms, The Rotary Club of Cork or one of the other organisations I am involved with. I thought this might be over-kill, seen as self-promotion! Self-promotion is not the preserve of the media classes, it is a modern-day practice in all our lives, whether we like to admit it or not. From our first day at school, right through to old age, we promote ourselves: ‘Look at me Mammy;’ best foot forward; smile before you dial; slap on the make-up; flashy tie; firm handshake; dress to impress.
I’ve been involved in the promotion business for almost twenty-five years now and to my mind, most people’s lives involve some form of self-promotion or other – call it self-preservation, ambition, or a yearning to say your piece or become involved in society. We have a really progressive, self-promoting society, now and it is children, oddly enough, who mirror that best.
Take Aine O’Driscoll, the ferryman’s daughter from Baltimore. She’s eight, she’s as bright as a button and inquisitive; she epitomises the uninhibited enthusiasm borne of the proud pedigree of an islander, a midlander, and a free-spirited upbringing. Adults, on the other hand, can be inhibited, afraid of a ‘put down,’ and have to make more of an effort to be taken seriously.
There’s no room for shrinking violets in today’s world; social skills are where it’s at. There’s no point anymore in rearing entrepreneurs and geniuses if they cannot project their talents. Geoff Read of Ballygowan did it; Maurice Pratt of C & C did it. I worked in a bar with the former and spotted the latter at a disco before my workmate swept him away from my clutches! Even then they were gregarious, outgoing people. Property Developer Owen O’Callaghan does it, the McElhinny Twins do it, and Deirdre Purcell does it – all for different reasons. They aren’t egotists: they are pragmatists. They all started with a blank sheet – just an idea – and nobody would know them and their businesses except for their methods of self-promotion through the media, through networking and through sheer perseverance and hard work.
An elderly gentleman greeted me in Patrick Street one day and suggested that I should cross the street and walk on the sunny side. I did, and it was a sound lesson in life. Let the sun shine in, bask in it, and spread it around. The light makes you look, and feel, goddamn good! Now, that’s not to say that I can banish the dark moments in a flash, but it’s a help. And you know, walking on the sunny side of the street encourages a cheery slagging en route to work from other city-centre people – Denis at McSweeney’s Photo, the lads at O’Flynns butchers – or a beam from a little nipper in his buggy. Before you know it life is better, and all because you said the first hello.
Self-promotion can be a means of getting noticed, perhaps if you are starting a new career, are new in town, launching your career or boosting sales in your business, or you’re simply having the yen to be heard and taken seriously by a loved one, a peer, or a community. It’s better to communicate your ‘message’ than have it stifled, hindering your progress in life. Let the begrudgers like it or lump it: they’re nothing except an excess of hot air.
If I had to sum up? You are your own special person – go walk in the sunlight and watch the reaction.
Mary Hopkins is Chairman of Hopkins Communications, an advertising and public relations firm based in Cork. She was the President of the Rotary Club in Cork, the first woman to hold the position, and is a member of the board of the Cork Chamber of Commerce.
From Reflections of Cork – An insight into Cork life by Cork people – Published in 2004 by The Evening Echo.
Introduction by the Editor of The Evening Echo, Maurice Gubbins:
‘Our book introduces you to a selection of our finest people. It’s a wide selection, as it must be to reflect the many sides of Cork that co-exist. It shows the diversity of our small city and big county’.