‘I was lucky because I enjoyed it’
2007-09-13 12:56:46 -

SANDY HAZEL meets Niall Kehoe, of Ethnic Media 

IRISHMAN Niall Kehoe went to Good Counsel College, New Ross in Co Wexford, after which he went straight into selling advertising space in Dublin in the 1980s.
“It was a thousand years ago, I was working in publishing with magazines. In Dublin, Magill, Irish Weddings and New Home were some of the titles,” he recalls. “I was sales manager and business development manager with Hoson Publishing. I worked with the Sunday Tribune too.”  During this time Kehoe learned some valuable lessons: “I picked up that all the theory in the world didn’t amount to a hill of beans, it’s down to slog and making those hundred calls a day. It is not easy but I was lucky because I enjoyed it. I always found an angle so that it didn’t seem to be just about selling an ad space. I made it interesting and came up with different ways of selling. At the Sunday Tribune we created supplements generating opportunities for different sectors to showcase services. I helped to put together features on bilateral trade between Ireland and other countries. People did not realise how much trade and business went on between Ireland and say Switzerland. But it made for great reading and of course we sold the spaces.”
He continues, “I then started a Chinese magazine which did well, the advertising revenue was strong. Over time the inward migration changed, different nationalities - Latvians, Lithuanians, Polish - took over the Chinese in numbers. Ad agencies and clients were asking us ‘Do you know anything about these new communities?’ We said that we didn’t but that we could find out. And we did.”
And so, Kehoe took his media savvy to another dimension and started to research the new communities as market research. “We became a one stop shop. We moved from being a publishing house doing a Chinese magazine to an agency dedicated solely to the new communities. We are a consultancy now, called Ethnic Media.”
What exactly does the agency do; who are their clients?  Kehoe explains: “Our clients are public relations companies and advertising agencies that need to target their message very specifically. The client will consult with us and then liaise with the planners of a campaign. They give direction to the buyers and that’s when they come back to us.” 
Companies can make some presumptions, according to Kehoe: “We will get companies coming to us and saying that they want to attract Poles. This is not a good idea.  We have to get them to distil this market. Do they want young or old Poles, do they want students or workers, do they want female Poles, single Poles, educated Poles? We have to have a micro-analysis of the market that you want to access. If it is a standard generic item such as a mobile phone, then we can say that everyone needs one, they are price sensitive and that’s more straightforward. I can see developments with advertisers such as banks trying to advertise to Eastern Europeans in business here.”
Kehoe uses a team of researchers to go out on the streets and talk to people. Ethnic Media employs a diverse staff of fourteen. “In order to speak about a market with absolute clarity and understanding, you have to talk to them. This is market intelligence.” Best business deal for Kehoe: “We secured the space on the web page that Polish people use to book their flights to Ireland. The confirmation page is ours, it gets half a million hits a year and we have Vodafone there.
They print off their confirmation page and we hope their automatic inclination is to sign up with Vodafone on arrival. Having a Sim card on their flight with 2 euro credit is also a way of getting people’s attention. They can make a call as soon as they arrive.”
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