Within creative industries, storytelling becomes an integral part of what we do on a daily basis. It forms the basis of our proposals; the hook for our presentations; even the cliffhanger for our marketing campaigns.
We here at All Good Tales are particularly keen about using storytelling as a weapon for business. But behind each good story is an even better storyteller.
So in this bi-weekly series, we chat with a different storyteller about their work and how telling stories helps them. Next up is Darragh Doyle, Head of Community with Food Cloud and custodian of the popular @Ireland Twitter account.
Q1: How did you get into your current role with FoodCloud? And what does a typical look like for you?
I feel very lucky to have my role with FoodCloud. I’ve known of them and their work for many years, through Social Entrepreneurs Ireland, the Arthur Guinness Fund, the Feeding the 5,000 event in Dublin and their work with Tesco Ireland. FoodCloud were looking for someone to look after their Social Media and asked my advice on what to look for. I took the opportunity to meet with them and see for myself the work they do.
Within 10 minutes of being in their Dublin Hub, seeing first-hand the impact of their work, I was transfixed. When I heard the stories from the Charities and Community Groups helped by the food, I was hooked and applied for the position. I gave up other freelancing gigs to do so. But I have genuinely never been as challenged by or as interested in the potential of an organisation and feel lucky everyday. Even the days I spend buried in spreadsheets or an inbox.
FoodCloud’s growth since 2012 has meant that what it started as has evolved into more than just “the app that supermarkets use for food waste”. That’s something many people don’t know. From one Tesco store in 2013, we’re now working with 3,000 stores in the UK and Ireland. In turn, helping over 6,000 charities monthly. We also have warehouses in Cork, Dublin and Galway, called Hubs. Between them and the software, we have facilitated over 16,000 tonnes of food being distributed to charities in the UK and Ireland.
We work with retailers, farmers, manufacturers, distributors and charity and community groups closely to ensure no good food goes to waste, with special technical and customer support, a team of developers and designers and with team members giving food safety training and education and event participation rounding out a typical week. My role is to do what I can to communicate what we do online and offline. While we’re redeveloping our website and online presences, it may sometimes appear there’s not a lot going on. But the opposite is true. At the moment I’m configuring my role for the second half of 2018 to move towards telling the stories behind the impact we have.
Q.2: What do you enjoy most about your job?
What I enjoy most about my job is also the most challenging aspect. It’shearing the stories of the people we are helping through food redistribution. Every day we get feedback from the charities and community groups we help about the people they’re helping with the food they source through us. There’s a lot of poverty not being talked about in Ireland and being made hyper aware that sometimes people don’t have enough money to buy good, nutritious food makes me more grateful for what I have.
When I was growing up in Graiguenamanagh, we were grateful for the Christmas donations made by St Vincent De Paul. That gratitude has, decades later, turned into my working to help societies like them, and 500 more in Ireland source good food. We hear amazing stories of what volunteers, chefs, cooks and leaders do with the food they source from us and how everyone from small children to elderly meals-on-wheels recipients benefit. Food really does bring communities closer. I’m constantly inspired by the passion of volunteers working to make Ireland a better place.
THANK YOU KEN.
One of our first and most dedicated volunteers Ken Cooper retired from service this week. Ken has been a great support, ambassador and a gentleman. Here he in @TheEchoOnline championing us: https://t.co/yN0xKR1q2J We will miss him.
A HUGE THANK YOU FROM ALL OF US pic.twitter.com/txbZYXmNsS
— FoodCloud (@FoodCloud) July 13, 2018
Q:3: How does storytelling fit into your daily life? What aspects of storytelling would you say you employ in your work?
I read voraciously. I don’t talk about it enough online but I average at least one Irish author’s book a week. Other stories and writings get read on Kindle, Inkitt and Medium. I’m fascinated by the place of stories in our society, whether or not seanchaí have a place in Ireland any more and how stories are passed along to people. I was recently back in the Irish Folklore Commission in UCD and spent a very happy Saturday afternoon in their archives. This is because hearing people’s experiences and stories, particularly in theatre which is where I spend many evenings. I still think no one has developed a superb story telling platform online and that’s a huge opportunity waiting to be exploited. I’m also always on the hunt for a good podcast recommendation.
For FoodCloud, it becomes vital. I can either explain what we do through statistics and data – over 35,000,000 meals equivalent redistributed is an impressive number after all. Or I can tell you the stories of charities as they’re told to me. How surplus food delivered to those helped by Purple House in Wicklow is helping cancer victims recover; how food deliveries to the women helped by Daisy House helps foster conversations amongst women who have experienced domestic violence or how Sophia is helping children and families at risk of homelessness with tasty nutritious food.
I’ve spoken on national and local radio, to journalists and researchers, to State Agencies, at conferences, to Community Leaders and at Cultural and Community events. Each time it comes back to the stories of how the food we’re redistributing makes a difference. When I’m working with the Marketing teams at FoodCloud’s retail partners and supporters, we look for the best stories to show what we do.
For other projects – whether it’s IrelandWeek in Los Angeles, spreading the word about the London Irish Centre, helping festival events and theatre shows reach new audiences or just helping Irish Bloggers find new readers as well as looking after their existing ones, many storytelling practises and techniques weave their way through strategy and execution.
Q4: As a lot of people reading will know, you are the owner of the @Ireland Twitter account. How did this come about?
As custodian of the @ireland account, I choose which week an applicant might be most appropriate. I also help them access the rotation curation account. It is over 330 weeks old now and has been a hugely educational and informative project. Not only because of the stories shared there by a wide variety of diverse people, but in how people react to it, in both hugely positive and sometimes negative ways.
The project started in 2011 when Bernie Goldbach, @topgold, who had the foresight to register the handle originally approached me to consider taking it on as a project based on the @sweden model. I was part of an initiative called WorldIrish.com which helped Irish Diaspora at the time. So the team there developed the account and it started in 2012. In 2013 WorldIrish closed, becoming part of Irish Central but I’ve kept the project going. I did this to both build on the work of previous curators and to give new voices an opportunity to be heard. It’s a purely voluntary project fuelled by passion, kindness and a touch of rebellion and joy.
Twitter, and particularly Ireland’s use of it, has developed massively over the years and the project has changed with it. On the whole it’s a positive project, though if I was told of a better use for the @ireland handle – one I felt really represented the country and its people well – I’d be happy to hand it over. I feel like I’m its caretaker until its next iteration.
Meet Nicola, @ruafaointuath, live from the @LeinsterFleadh, Fleadh Laighean in Muine Bheag (Bagnaelstown), Co. Carlow, which culminates in a weekend of competitions and a live broadcast by Fleadh TV. Nicola is a reading, kayaking and gin enthusiast, although never simultaneously. pic.twitter.com/SinUwS2JoW
— Ireland / Ollie (@ireland) July 9, 2018
Q5: The @Ireland accounts gives individuals the opportunity to tell their stories, to share their experiences with others. How do you select those storytellers to run the account?
The @ireland account is primarily based on applications. People just email firstname.lastname@example.org with the weeks they’re available to take the account and most importantly what they’d like to do with it. People who come to me with a good idea are far more likely to be prioritised.
There’s also a balancing act in choosing curators; I try to vary it male to female, including people who identify as transgender, in Dublin and outside Dublin, in Ireland and outside Ireland, profession to profession and then experience to experience, taking into account ethnicity, age and sometimes, where relevant, political, religious or cultural beliefs. It probably would be much easier to do it on a first come first served basis but I’d imagine we’d see a lot of similar people on it. It’s a challenge to be diverse and reflect people of different abilities and backgrounds, but I think it’s as good as it can be for a voluntary project.
There are times I will approach people to take the account, particularly if there’s a week that their story would be particularly relevant. I also welcome nominations. Recently I’ve started to expand the team that chooses and helps curators and hope the diversity in the support team will be reflected in choice of curator.
Q6: What has been your favourite outcome from the @Ireland account?
While there’s a lovely DailyEdge article that highlights some great curators on the account, my favourite outcome is any time a curator comes back to me to tell me they’ve really enjoyed the experience. People have made genuine friends through the account. Curators have had invitations and opportunities they wouldn’t have previously had access to. People were invited to do media interviews after being featured as @ireland. I’ve also seen it listed as an achievement on LinkedIn a few times. Not bad for a little project!
Q:7: FoodCloud do some amazing work across the country. What has been your proudest achievement working with there?
I love meeting people through my job. I’ve had the opportunity to help groups committed to helping people experiencing homelessness including the Muslim Sisters of Éire and Inner City Helping Homeless. FoodCloud has helped organisations like Street Feast, Our Table, an initiative arising from Direct Provision, the Guth Gafa Documentary Film Festival and we’re looking forward to being back at the National Ploughing Championships this year. We’ve welcomed tours from international Universities and I’ve spoken at many events. The thing I’m proudest of though will be the project we’re starting in November of this year. You’ll hear more about that soon.
The @FoodCloud team are working on an Ireland🇮🇪 where no-one goes hungry – and no good food goes to waste☕🍵. Watch how a €26 million #EU fund is helping them on their mission. More of our #EU45stories at https://t.co/3DvlF6vGrg pic.twitter.com/j0GlLaLAkl
— EU Commission in Ireland (@eurireland) July 11, 2018
Q.8: As a storyteller, you must have some creative rituals you engage in?
Research. Learning from others. Listening twice, speaking once. Seeking first to understand, then being understood. Collaborating with others and sharing knowledge. Taking opportunities and saying YES more. Saying NO more, too. All sound buzzwordy, but all hugely necessary. Especially in the attention deficit, clickbait laden, vent-or-rant ecosystems we find are all too prevalent now. The main creative ritual I practise before, during and after I finish a piece is “Would I appreciate reading this if I didn’t know the people involved? Is this something that is good to know?”. If not, I try again.
Q.9: What kind of stories do you tell through Dublin.ie? How did you get involved with them?
Dublin.ie was a useful website when it was first launched almost two decades ago. Its most recent redevelopment is an attempt to make it informative, entertaining and relevant to the people living, studying and working in Dublin and those who are thinking of moving here.
I have a particular ghrá for arts and culture, particularly in Dublin where I live. People know that I’ll help them spread the word about their projects if I can. As well as developing their social media strategy, I helped the Dublin.ie team find venues, artists, projects and people who make things happen to help them get a new audience. There’s a big need for a comprehensive and useful Arts, Culture and Events website in Ireland. Dublin.ie’s event section is becoming a good template for how that might happen. There is, of course, plenty of scope for improvement and I enjoy talking to the team behind Dublin.ie on ways to make sure that happens.
— Dublin.ie (@Dublin_ie) July 12, 2018
Q10: Where does your love for Irish arts and culture come from?
Stories. Whether it’s ancient myths and legends, ghost stories from Ireland’s Own magazine (I’ve been reading it since 1983) or tales told on screen. You’ll typically find me leaning forward, elbows on knees, transfixed by the hugely talented storytellers we have in Ireland and the people working with them in costume, lighting, set design, soundscapes and production, all working to bring stories to life. While I do love a good music gig, it’s theatre and spoken word experiences that really grab me.
I’ll give you my top experiences in Dublin to get a sense of why I love the arts so much. So in no particular order of preference:
- Visit the National Gallery and spend time looking at the architecture as much as the art
- Visit the Little Museum of Dublin and do one of their walking tours
- Experience Epic Ireland in CHQ and see how far we’ve come as a small island
- Pick a play in the Project Arts Centre especially during Dublin Fringe or the Dublin Theatre Festival
- Experience the Show in a Bag shows at Bewley’s Café Theatre or any of the shows in Theatre Upstairs. They are treats.
- Book as far as you can in advance to see Pat Kinevane perform Silent, Forgotten or Underneath. The entire Fishamble Theatre stable is storytelling rich
- Beg, borrow or steal a ticket to see The Gloaming in the National Concert Hall
- See Foil, Arms and Hog at Vicar Street. Support up and coming comedians at the Cherry Comedy nights in Whelans
- Go see The Man in the Woman’s Shoes and I Hear You and Rejoice by Mikel Murfi
And, while it may not be arts, you’ll certainly experience culture if you
- Come on a Food Rescue Run with FoodCloud and meet some of the charities working to help people in Dublin
I’m always happy to help people. Drop me a line at email@example.com or tweet me at @darraghdoyle
Here at All Good Tales we are passionate about stories and love to showcase brands and individual who we think are great at telling their story. We are currently doing great work for brands like Kingspan, Glandore, Ancestry.com, and daa, to name just a few. We are building brand newsrooms, executing exciting PR strategies, and training key staff how to source, structure and tell great stories. For more information please click here or call Gaye on (01) 254 1845.