Things Happen For a Reason by Gillian Hennessy

Things happen for a Reason

by Gillian Hennessy

Gillian Hennessy

6th Jan 2021

I’m one of those people who took a while to figure out what they wanted to do or be when they grew up. Teaching was suggested a lot, both while I was in secondary school and again in college. I knew I didn’t want to teach but it took until my final year of my degree to realise what I wanted: I spotted a poster for a Masters in English – Literature and Publishing and it was a lightbulb moment for me as, although I’d always loved reading, somehow it had never occurred to me that I could get paid to do it! I worked in book publishing for thirteen years overall and completely surprised myself by how much I loved the media and marketing aspect of it all.

Now I’m PR & Marketing Manager with Triskel Arts Centre in the heart of Cork City and here are a few things I’ve learned over the last 2.5 years:
  • Triskel is a bit of a hidden gem, which I’ve come to embrace because it’s special to be part of something that people feel so protective of – we have a very loyal audience. This year has proven that in spades.

  • People in Cork like waiting until the last minute to book tickets, which doesn’t make it easy on us marketers!

  • People love that we don’t serve popcorn in Triskel Cinema – it makes us unique.

  • It takes a village to hold an event – there’s so much going on behind the scenes that audiences never get to see. So many talented sound engineers, lighting technicians, projectionists, programmers, cleaners, admin and box office staff as well as those of us behind the Triskel socials.

  • The hours can be unsociable but the buzz from a great event – whether in person or online – is totally worth it.

My advice for anyone wanting to work in events (or for life in general!):

Have an open mind

I never thought I’d work in marketing or media. In fact, I was sure I definitely wouldn’t but it turns out I have a knack for finding the ‘hook’ that will grab the attention of an editor/journalist/audience member.

Things happen for a reason

I was devastated when I didn’t get the points for primary school teaching but recovered by deferring my place in UCC and going to New York City for a year.

Trust your instincts

I originally planned to get a degree in French and Psychology but ended up with a degree in English and Italian. And I added a year to my degree by going to Italy to study there. That was an amazing year and the best way to learn a language.

Understand your audience

Whether it’s the audience member who comes to your events or the journalist you’re trying to pitch to: there’s no point in asking a sports journalist to do a story on The Muppet Christmas Carol.

Be resilient

Sometimes you won’t get the audience or media coverage you want. Pick yourself up, analyse what went right and wrong, then do better next time.

Be willing to try something new

While with The Collins Press here in Cork, I set up and managed the company social media accounts: back then, Facebook marketing was still in its infancy, Twitter was just a place for nerds and techies, and Instagram didn’t even exist.

Wear flat shoes

You can be on your feet for hours on end so you might as well be comfortable. Plus it makes it easier to sneak around an auditorium in the middle of a concert or film screening!

About Gillian Hennessy

Gillian Hennessy has vast experience in media and marketing. She offers career insights that serve as food for thought as we step into 2021.