PLAYING AWAY Kieran O’Malley pictured in Newport at the weekend, after a game with Bonniconlon.
“I would be an early riser most of the time but I don’t have to be at my desk at The Connacht Hotel on the Dublin Road in Galway until 9.30am.
That’s handy for a couple of reasons. It means I get to miss most of the morning traffic and if I was out and about at an event the previous evening or night I don’t have to be in work too early.
My job is as a digital content creator and public relations executive for the seven businesses in The Connacht Hospitality Group in Galway City. That’s three hotels – The Connacht Hotel, Forster Court and the Residence Hotel; three pubs – An Púcán, 1520 and the bar at the Forster Court; and a gym, Active 24 Fitness, at The Connacht Hotel.
A big part of my job is to build a following of the various businesses through social media.
It’s not just about pushing products or services. It cannot be. People will not engage with that.
So there would be a mix with, say An Púcán, of the lunch menu, cocktails on offer and then funny and entertaining stuff as well. It cannot just be ads. People want to engage and if they know they will see something funny or interesting they may stay and then see what cocktails are on, the dish of the day etc.
We put ourselves in the customers’ shoes. If a page has 20 posts in a day and they are all just trying to get you to buy something, people will not engage. If people don’t stay on the page for long, then the page will not come up in their feed as often because of how Facebook’s algorithms work.
We have built up quite a following and now have 297,000 followers through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, across the seven businesses.
Facebook is definitely our most successful platform but Instagram is growing dramatically for us.
On Mondays we strategise and plan for the seven businesses but we obviously deal with ad hoc stuff too. For instance the Connacht Rugby team came into An Púcán for lunch last Thursday, I got a call and shot down there to take some pics.
My working week is in the office in The Connacht Hotel from 9.30pm to 6pm Monday to Friday but then I can be working in the evenings and weekends too and they are flexible like that, it can be quite fluid.
It started with a blog
How did I get into this? Well it really came about from my own blog, The Galway Player. I set that up six-and-a-half years ago. Originally it was a light-hearted look at the dating scene - although some people took it very seriously! I was anonymous until last year when I revealed my identity.
I was a contributor to the Chris and Ciara show on iRadio for three years and then with them on 2FM for two years.
It’s now a men’s fashion and lifestyle blog. It looks at male grooming, fashion, accommodation and so on. I have been asked to stay for free in several hotels in return for posting about my stay.
I have a column in Galway Now magazine each month where I review four products or services. I have an agent too and I have got jobs through her.
I would be sent stuff to test and if I like them, I feature them in the column, on the blog and my social media channels. If I don’t like something it does not mean it is a bad product or service. For instance a skincare product might just not work for my skin.
I have done some unusual stuff. One that sticks out is I was asked to be an ambassador for a sex toy company. I did a bit. I wanted to destigmatise it. I reviewed the products then for Galway Now. I got a good bit of slagging for that.
I got Botox done in November. I got very little public engagement on that but what was really surprising was the amount of people who sent me private messages asking about it because they were thinking of getting it done. I had it done around my eyes and I had people up to me looking at it. At work I got plenty of slagging. They were saying ‘how are you? We don’t know if you’re happy or sad’!
The Galway Player helps my job in a lot of ways. Part of my role is to work with influencers who might then visit of the businesses and post about it it from their accounts. The fact that I am a blogger myself, I might have created relationships with a lot of these people, understand that world. I get invited to all these events too so I would be meeting influencers there so the blog definitely helps with my job in terms of networking.
It’s mad how things have evolved. When I left college Facebook was not even around. I’m just over two years in this job now. I was blogging before that but my job was working in the bank. Social media is my passion and I’m so lucky to be working in this area.
I was at an event the last night and I was asked beforehand who was I going with. I said I was going on my own because I know everyone there! And I was thinking, here am I the shy fella who started off college and didn’t think I’d get through first year and now I am able to go into a room like this and know and get on well with everyone there.
Glued to the phone
I try to go to the gym as often as I can. There’s a gym at work which is great to have but it’s not always possible to go as often as I want.
I’m back playing football with Bonniconlon this year, as sub goalkeeper. I’m enjoying it.
I cannot always be there and the boys are understanding. Like I had to miss training to go to a launch of Coco Brown tanning product. I didn’t put that up on the team Whatsapp, I went straight to the manager with that one!
I have over 30 social media accounts on my phone. I’m glued to my phone. It never stops. Between work accounts and my own accounts I have over 400,000 followers coming into my phone. The notifications are fairly intense. On a night out I would be stuck to it, alright. It can annoy people who are with me!
One night I was out for a dinner date. I switched off my phone and then in the restaurant they came out to me and said ‘oh are you the Galway Player’? They gave me free drink and everything for the night so I had to take out my phone and post pictures of everything on my various social media accounts. I was giving out about it and my date said ‘what are you giving out about? You are in a beautiful restaurant and getting free food and drinks’!
I get plenty of slagging from family and friends for taking pictures of food and drinks. When I get free drinks or food, I am paying the restaurant or bar by putting pictures up online to my followers. That’s how it works. There is a value to it.
There is a mixed reaction to this and I can appreciate that. Particularly if people are not in this world. A lot of my friends in Galway are bloggers and are in the social media world so they understand. We’d joke that by the time we finish taking various photos of our food, it would be gone cold!
This work is giving me an incredible amount of experience. Setting up the Galway Player account changed my life and is the best thing I ever did. I was not in a great place at the time.
My brother Cormac is a social media executive with Mid West Radio so it’s like a family business! We hop ideas off each other. We know a lot of people in the industry. We would talk about good apps to use, photography etc.
I have a sponsored car from Bradley Renault in Galway and I was at home in Bonniconlon and wanted some good pics and video of the car so he did that. Years ago we’d come in the door and our parents, Johnny and Mary, would ask us ‘what were ye at’? and we would say ‘we were out in the field playing football’. Now we’d say ‘we were out doing stuff for social media’!
How do I unwind? Well, between work, my blog and playing football with Bonniconlon, there’s not a lot of time left.
I live near the Prom in Salthill and I love walking the Prom. I’d either be on my own or I would walk a neighbour’s dog for them. It is great to clear the head. I do it as often as I can. I play five-a-side soccer and masters soccer in the winter.
When I go for a walk, I leave my phone behind me and switch off.
I wouldn’t watch much TV, live sports only. On Monday to Friday I’m only in my house to sleep. I have so much on but it is fun going to all these events, I wouldn’t change it for anything.
Name: Kieran O’Malley
From: Carralavin, Bonniconlon
Occupation: Digital Content Creator and Public Relations Executive with The Connacht Hospitality Group
If money was no object, what would you do all day?
Play with my two gorgeous nephews (six months and two years old).
Tell us something about yourself we don’t know?
I visited Chernobyl in 2004 to raise funds for orphanages.
What’s the most unusual thing you’ve eaten?
Poliüka – a horrific Belarusian fish soup, with fish heads left in it.
Where’s your favourite place in the world?
The Prom in Salthill.
What makes you angry?
Neville Southall – former Everton goalkeeper.
Name three things that are always in your fridge?
Milk, champagne, cheese.
What makes you nervous?
Sending the first message on Tinder.
Favourite TV show?
Match of the Day.
Who’s the most famous person you’ve met?
A weekend away in the Armada Hotel in Spanish Point a few months ago, amazing room, location, staff and company.
What do you miss most about being a kid?
Home cooked meals.
What’s your most prized possession?
Probably my phone; it’s basically an extension of me.
Best advice you ever got?
My great friend Sinéad Cassidy often sends me great quotes, one of my favourites is the Henry Ford adage: ‘Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t … you’re right’.
Describe yourself in three words?
Laid-back, considerate, resourceful
How do you unwind?
Walking the Prom in Salthill with friends and my phone left in the car.