AdLib: Apps and emojis herald papal visit

A banner outside St Andrew’s in Westland Row, Dublin, welcomes Pope Francis to the WMoF
A banner outside St Andrew’s in Westland Row, Dublin, welcomes Pope Francis to the WMoF
Kinsale-based actor, comedian, writer and political activist Tara Flynn

As the country prepares for Pope Francis’s visit, a huge media operation goes into overdrive. But this weekend’s events are a far cry from Pope John Paul II’s visit to Ireland back in 1979 when journalists relied on telex, fax and landlines to share reports and photos. Over 1,200 journalists from 31 countries are here for the World Meeting of Families (WMoF).

Five press centres and 40 separate media structures in 10 different locations have been built for WMoF. Dublin Castle is the central media hub. The Pastoral Congress is in the RDS, Croke Park is where the WMoF Festival of Families will be staged and Phoenix Park hosts Sunday’s closing Mass.

The fifth media centre is at the Knock Shrine. The WMoF media office is working with the Dublin Archdiocese, Knock Shrine, the Catholic Communications Office (CCO) in Maynooth and the Vatican Press Office. Headed up by Brenda Drumm, the WMoF office has been based in Clonliffe College for the past two-and-half years.

Drumm, who is on secondment from the CCO, has five full-time press officers. She says the WMoF benefits from the recent state visits by Barack Obama and Britain’s Queen Elizabeth. Back in 1979, there were no smartphones, texts and email. Nowadays, major events can choose from various social media platforms to get messages out.

“WMoF 2018 will be a ‘social’ one,” Drumm told AdLib. “We’ve four official hashtags and they activate a special Pope emoji created by Twitter. We’ve a team of bloggers sharing their view of the event with the world. There’s an app for that too and we’ve a pilgrim app for those coming here from 116 countries.”

There will be minute-by-minute updates across all WMoF social platforms, from Twitter and live streams on Facebook. The Humans of WMoF 2018 is a nod to the Facebook story-sharing phenomenon ‘Humans of New York’. has a podcast and will be pushing out videos. It’s all in stark contrast to 1979, when the then Catholic Press and Information Office was only four years old.

Back then, senior members of the Public Relations Institute (PRII) manned media centres around the country. The centre in the Phoenix Park was set up near the high altar with two towers erected for TV cameras and photographers. The late Michael Colley, who was head of PR at the ESB, recalled the day started at 5am and the clean-up finished just before midnight.

* When Pope Francis touches down in Dublin on Saturday morning, he will be transported to Áras an Uachtaráin in a Skoda Rapid. Three similar vehicles with unique registration plates have been reserved. 182-D-9093 is the main vehicle’s reg. When the digits 9093 are inverted, it looks like the word ‘Pope’.

Following a meeting at the Áras with President Michael D Higgins, the Pope will be driven to Dublin Castle to deliver a speech, followed by a visit to St Mary’s Pro Cathedral and a private visit to the Capuchin Father’s Day Centre for Homeless Families. That evening, His Holiness will attend the Festival of Families at Croke Park.

* The Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI) has joined the European Advertising Standards Alliance’s (Easa) complaints body for the EU pledge, a voluntary response from food and drinks brands to change how they advertise to children, particularly under 12s. Endorsed by the World Federation of Advertisers, the pledge is a response to EU calls for food marketers to support parents in making the right diet and lifestyle choices and to help get to grips with obesity.

It means there can be no broadcast, print or online ads for food and drink brands targeted at youngsters – except ads deemed to have a nutritional or educational value. An ASAI member will sit on an Easa accountability panel and may be asked to help adjudicate.

* In an article in ‘Irish Tatler’ magazine, Tara Flynn writes about the topsy-turvy world of freelancing – where sometimes you’re up, sometimes you’re down. “Truth is, I haven’t had that much paid work this year,” writes the Kinsale-based actor, comedian, writer and political activist.

Kinsale-based actor, comedian, writer and political activist Tara Flynn

Flynn has fronted and voiced radio and TV ads for the likes of Dulux Weathershield and 02. Her new book, ‘Rage-In’, includes some choice quotes, not least: “Satire only works with the tension of making anger funny and the funny angry.”

And finally… Adlanders wishing to build a career in planning and learn about insights are invited to a free boot camp, led by Mark Pollard of New York’s Mighty Jungle – whose credo is “you don’t need services; you need powers”.

The boot camp is in memory of Grace McDermott, an agency planner who sadly died in a house fire last year, aged 26.

It will be held in DCU in Glasnevin on Saturday, September 22. Anyone interested in attending, should email Germaine Fagan at [email protected]

Michael Cullen is editor of; [email protected]

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