Darragh O’Neill’s story during Covid 19. While traditional storefront came to a standstill, the digital world came alive!

Tell us a few things about yourself.

My name is Darragh O’Neill, 23, from Carlow. I am currently part of the Ibec Global Graduates programme working as a Marketing Executive with Walsh Whiskey, also in Carlow. Coming up through the education system, I was never sure what I wanted to do. It seemed like there was almost too many options, and my head was fried. I always enjoyed creative writing and short stories in English class and loved getting involved in school plays and talent shows. I was never afraid to make a fool of myself! This led me towards the thinking that I wanted to get into a line of work that encouraged creativity and boldness. This led me down the path of marketing.

I surprisingly left Carlow for 4 years, picking up my degree in Marketing & Digital Media in Waterford Institute of Technology. Some of my fondest college memories came in our final year, when real life companies would come in to pitch us a brief, and we would then have a few weeks to birth a proposal and present it back. I found it similar to the tv show ‘The Apprentice’, as we got to showcase our skills in a practical sense. Much better than 2-hour economics modules.

After finishing the college cycle, myself and two friends hopped on a 9 hour flight to spend a summer in Vancouver. Living in a frat house with 50 other Irish people wasn’t the cleanest experience, but it was definetly the most fun! Countless games of beer pong and exploring the city and surrounding area was funded by selling hot dogs and beers in the local baseball stadium. I wasn’t expecting Summer in Canada to be so hot, but 30 degree heat transformed my body from pale to not as pale. The people you meet on a Summer abroad and the fun you have is something I would recommend everyone does before they commit to a full time job.
And that brings me nicely up to this point in my life, working from home like many people are, excited for the day that Covid-19 is merely a memory.

Tell us about Walsh Whiskey.

Walsh Whiskey was established back in 1999 by Bernard and Rosemary Walsh. The company started off selling a pre-mixed Irish Coffee, and has grown to a highly successful international business centred around a portfolio of premium, award winning whiskeys. Walsh Whiskey is home to two brands: The Irishman, which was launched in 2006, and Writers’ Tears, which came on the scene in 2009. Both brands aim to recreate traditional recipes from the 19th century – Ireland’s golden era of whiskey distilling – while also introducing innovative new expressions for contemporary palettes in a modern era. In the super competitive industry that is Irish whiskey, you have to stand out. Walsh Whiskey aims to be a leader in innovation, with Bernard Walsh always exploring and researching different cask finishes to surprise and delight whiskey lovers. It is a family owned business, with many traits of a real life family coming through in how we do work – loyalty, trust and the desire to push each other to excel in what we do.

Tell us about what you do in Walsh Whiskey.

Working as a Marketing Executive my days are varied and while I have certain tasks to do every week, no two weeks are the same. My main focus for the company is social media. Between both Writers’ Tears & The Irishman we have 5 different media platforms across Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. I put together a weekly schedule that includes a minimum of 23 posts, with most weeks having more posts than that, depending on what pops up. As well as using images and videos from our own catalogue, I also take pictures myself. I have grown to enjoy the photography side and often bring my dummy bottles of whiskey with me if I am going anywhere that I feel could provide a photo opportunity! It is a very rewarding part of the job when I see a post do well, or if other media outlets pick up on it. A vast portion of my yearly targets revolve around social media numbers, so I am always trying to create engaging content to build on our follower base.

When I take off my social media cap, there is always something else to do. We have a small team at Walsh Whiskey, so everyone finds themselves working on different projects with each other at certain points. This could include helping out with production by monitoring or taking in stock, assisting the sales team by providing them with marketing material for their distributors or hosting a drinks reception at an event. The best way to learn is to get stuck in, and that is definitely what I am doing with Walsh Whiskey.

Tell us about a project you were involved in.

When Covid-19 hit Ireland, I found myself working from home like most people. My daily commute from my bedroom to my sitting room saw me clocking up an impressive 100 daily steps. While the traditional storefront came to a standstill, the digital world came alive. At Walsh Whiskey, we knew we had to be more interactive and engaging online, as this was now the only place to get our products in front of the consumers. Myself and Clare, our Marketing Manager, also felt like this was the ideal opportunity to connect on a personal level with the consumer. We decided that I would head a ‘Meet the Team’ series on Instagram. We wanted to show the people behind the bottles, not an army like some companies have, but a handful of hardworking people that make Writers’ Tears and The Irishman possible. I gathered profiles on all our staff and over a 3 week period introduced them all to the world. The series did amazingly well, with great interaction. These posts turned out to be some of the best performing posts ever on both our Instagram pages. This goes to show that a personal touch can help create stronger connections with the consumer, and adds an element of transparency to the business that is often ignored.

What is your biggest tip you would like to share with future Global Graduates?

It might seem obvious but know why you want to work in the industry. It is a question that I was asked during interviews, that at the time rocked me a little, but the more you think about the question, the clearer the answer becomes. It is all well and good talking about your amazing college results or how hard a worker you are, but if you don’t demonstrate that you have a passion and a desire to work in that industry, then you’re already at a disadvantage. I would say to research the companies you want to work for, even research the ones you don’t want to work for, and immerse yourself in the industry so that when you’re in the interview and that question comes up you will come across as a much stronger candidate.

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