Aiken PR

The Briefing

Our 2018 highlights

by Aiken PR


As the curtain draws on another exciting and successful year at AIKEN we have each taken five minutes break to reflect upon our favourite moments of agency life in 2018

Happy Christmas from all the team at AIKEN. It has been a tremendous year for us. We grew our client base and our team. Some of our work was public, some of it behind the scenes.  All of it has been interesting. Here are some campaigns and projects we would like to share: 

Donal O’Neill
Launch of the Huawei Mate 20 Pro – London, October

2018 has been “the year of Huawei” – so said one of Ireland’s leading tech journalists!

In October Donal had the pleasure of working on the launch of one of the most critically acclaimed smart phones of 2018. Over the course of seven days AIKEN accompanied 40 journalists and influencers to London for a pre–brief and the launch of the stunning new Huawei Mate 20 Pro.

“We had with us representatives from every major news outlet in Ireland. There was undoubtedly a lot of organising, a couple of early morning flights and a few extra hours to see this over the line but it was worth it for the success we achieved in generating an island–wide buzz around the device, which has been objectively reviewed as the best smartphone currently on the market.”

Huawei Launch

Lyn Sheridan
Launch of Huawei Story–Sign – Lapland, November

Lyn also recalls a Huawei moment as her highlight of 2018; the launch of Story–Sign, an app that will help enrich story time for deaf children and their parents, that was created with experts and charities from the deaf community to ensure it is a genuinely useful tool.

“Sometimes in our work projects come along that are so worthwhile they are truly inspiring to work on.  Throughout the year the AIKEN Huawei team has been impressed time and again by Huawei’s AI developments however, as we were briefed on Story–sign we were quite simply awed.  It’s been a joy for the team to inform a very receptive media of this development that will impact on so many people’s lives.  The app features a friendly avatar, Star, who guides children and parents through a selected children’s book, translating it into perfect sign language and signing along to the story in real time. Sending journalists and KOLs to Lapland to learn in depth about Story–Sign was most definitely my highlight of the year.”

Story Sign

Louise Carson and Susan Jackson
Launch of Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of The Seas – Barcelona, April
Royal Caribbean’s Independence of The Seas Shakedown – Southampton, May

Susan joined the AIKEN team at the beginning of 2018 and paired up with Louise to create a dream ‘partner–ship’ on the Royal Caribbean account.

2018 has been an exciting year for Ireland’s favourite cruise brand as it launched the world’s most extraordinary and largest cruise ship, Symphony of the Seas in April.

Working with the goal of growing the brand’s market share in Ireland, Louise helped to implement a series of unique, fun and market specific activations and engagement opportunities to bring Symphony to life in the Irish market.

Following Symphony’s hugely successful launch in May, Susan took the wheel and went full steam ahead into April, celebrating the multi–million–pound refurbishment of Independence of the Seas. Looking back on the mini two–day cruise, where lifestyle media and influencers got a taste of the huge range of entertainment on board the ship, Susan considers the shakedown as her highlight of 2018.

“It was the first time I got to see and experience a Royal Caribbean ship in the flesh. We had incredible weather and the ship looked amazing after the refurbishment.”


Caroline Murphy
Progressive Building Society NI Savings Week – NI, September

Caroline Murphy set out with the goal to get Northern Ireland saving in 2018, helping Progressive Building Society organise the first ever Northern Ireland Savings Week in September;

“Research prior to NI Savings Week revealed that a third of adults here don’t save regularly. We wanted to change that and help to start a conversation about the savings culture in Northern Ireland.”

In partnership with The Consumer Council, and Young Enterprise, the UK’s leading enterprise and financial education charity, Caroline and the team at Progressive utilised a dynamic approach to social media and engagement with local influencers to strengthen presence of #NISavingWeek on social media.

The campaign reached almost 5 million people across Northern Ireland, securing coverage in print and online, and generating a fantastic buzz on social media.

NI Savings
John McManus and Carolyn Cousins
Ardlinn ‘Executive of the Month’ Awards – Dublin

John and Carolyn worked with Dublin based executive recruitment firm Ardlinn throughout the year to coordinate their monthly ‘Executive of the Month’ Awards in association with the Sunday Business Post.

From conducting sectoral research, to creating a steady flow of content for all media platforms, AIKEN played an integral role in the process which saw 12 of Ireland’s most high profile and finest business leaders acknowledged and celebrated for their working achievements.

John recalls his highlight of the year to be the Executive of the Month Award Ceremony in November, where the 12–month process concluded with a memorable afternoon at the Merrion Hotel in Dublin;

“I felt privileged to gain first–hand insights into the hard work and professionalism required to make it to C level in the country’s most reputable and leading organisations.”

With monthly winners from leading businesses across Ireland including FinTrU, Sisk, Airbnb, Dalata Group and Matheson in attendance, as well as the Sunday Business Post and Danny McCoy from IBEC the ceremony was a fitting culmination to the hard work that goes into making the initiative a success.

Caroline McNelis
Darkness Into Light (DIL), sponsored by Electric Ireland – May, NI

Caroline McNelis said she felt ‘part of something special’ working with sponsorship partner Electric Ireland to mark the tenth anniversary of Darkness Into Light, a global movement and fundraising event aiming to destigmatise suicide and raise funds for suicide prevention, suicide bereavement and self–harm in Northern Ireland.

AIKEN worked alongside Electric Ireland to raise the profile of the event, where 200,000 participants across fifteen countries, including thousands of people across nine venues in Northern Ireland, woke up and walked from Darkness Into Light to help people suffering from poor mental health and prevent suicide.

AIKEN and Electric Ireland brought on board a strong line up of ambassadors to help raise awareness of the campaign and involvement in the 5km walk.

“Working with Jamie–Lee O’Donnell, AKA Michelle from Derry Girls, was incredible. But what was even better was the feeling that you were truly part of something special and making a difference to an important cause.

In securing an amazing 203 pieces of coverage for the campaign we can say for certain that we achieved our objective of increasing awareness of DIL, and opening people’s eyes to the battle against suicide and self–harm in Northern Ireland.”


Paula McKay
National Trust’s #ChristmasInBushmills Festive Countdown – November, Giant’s Causeway

Paula helped the National Trust team at the Giant’s Causeway get into the festive spirit by launching Christmas at the Causeway with a social media takeover at the end of November. Showcasing the incredible talent of local crafters and small businesses that supply beautifully handcrafted gifts and souvenirs to the Visitor Centre, the 7–day social media campaign generated an exciting buzz in the run up to the festive season and helped bring visitors to the Giant Festive Evening at the end of November.

“Social media is a fantastic way of opening people’s eyes to things they may not already know are there, and I loved having the opportunity to promote the locally produced products sold at the Visitor Centre. 

The Festive Countdown, featuring a range of products everyday that can be purchased in the gift shop helped to bring visitors to the Giant’s Causeway’s first festive event of the year. People made a start on their Christmas shopping, finding special gifts made right here in Ireland. I’ve been feeling the Christmas vibes ever since!”

Festive Evening

Grace White
Launch of McDonald’s four–year community partnership with the Irish Football Association – October, Belfast

Since beginning work at AIKEN during the Summer Grace has been working alongside the McDonald’s team.

“Working with the team I very quickly came to realise the significance of the partnership with the Irish Football Association, and how their work with McDonald’s can make a positive impact on local communities throughout Northern Ireland.”

Grace’s stand–out moment of 2018 came in October, when she helped to organise the partnership launch event at Belfast City Hall. Celebrating the significant milestone for grassroots football in Northern Ireland, the event – hosted by Lord Mayor Councillor Deirdre Hargey – was a huge success!

Launch event
Alicia Clarke
National Trust’s ‘Faces of Change: Voices for Women’ Exhibition – November, Mount Stewart

In November, the National Trust launched a special exhibition presenting an overview of the campaign for women’s suffrage. The ‘Faces of Change’ Exhibition at Mount Stewart featured artwork from the National Portrait Gallery, the Imperial War Museum, Mount Stewart’s own collection, the Ulster Museum and the Londonderry Collection.

Recognising that the suffragette movement was something she still didn’t know a great deal about, Alicia was excited for the opportunity to learn more and to work alongside the National Trust to bring to life ‘Voices for Women’;

“It was a great opportunity for me to learn about the work done by suffragettes 100 years ago. I was fascinated by the topic, and it seemed like the NI media were too! We held a media launch event and secured coverage in outlets across print and digital platforms.

The exhibition which is at home in Mount Stewart until February includes well–known but also rarely seen paintings, drawings, photographs and archival documents representing suffragettes like Emmeline Pankhurst. Definitely worth paying a visit!

Faces of Change
Shane Finnegan
Sale of Kevin Lagan’s Lagan Group to Breedon plc for £455M – April, Dublin/Belfast/London

One of the biggest financial deals on the island of Ireland this year was the announcement of Kevin Lagan’s materials construction business Lagan Group to Breedon Group plc, the UK’s largest independent construction materials group. 

Working with the Lagan, financial, legal and Breedon teams throughout the robust due diligence process, Shane directed the communications programme from planning through to delivery of the sale. 

Key within a deal of this scale was the delivery of a seamless transition in the lead up to and execution of the sale with internal communications, stakeholder engagement, investor relations and financial PR integral to the process.   

“Working across so many elements of the communications function to successfully announce one of the biggest financial deals in Ireland in 2018 was a great experience.  Employees, investors, political stakeholders, media and the financial markets needed to be informed at the right time and in the right way to successfully deliver the sale.  It was a great opportunity for us to hone our expertise for those audiences and was an exciting stand–out piece of work in 2018”    

Also in 2018, the team announced details of Kevin Lagan’s plans for his retained businesses Lagan Homes and FastHouse and they launched his new investment company Lagan Investments to a broad range of stakeholders and investors.

Lagan Sale