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HIRELAND the story of a kitchen table movement

INTRODUCTION Do you want to change the world (or at least your corner of it)? Do you want to make your country or community a better place? If you want to achieve real social change by creating or building a movement to encourage people to think differently about an issue that matters to you, then perhaps the hireland story can inspire and guide you. We didn’t solve the unemployment problem in ireland, but we did change employers’ mindsets and encourage thousands of them to Hire just one more person. In this ebook, you can find out how we did it, what we learned, what worked for us and what didn’t. we hope it motivates you to make a difference where you live. 2

Kickstarting a burst of job creation in Ireland We created Hireland with one simple goal in mind. We wanted to encourage Irish business owners to take on staff at a time of economic uncertainty and huge job losses. We wanted to empower people to think differently about unemployment and inspire them to believe they were not powerless, but could be part of the solution. By persuading individual companies to hire just one more employee, Hireland aimed to remind local businesses that they could make a big difference.

Real change on the ground More than 2,400 businesses in Ireland have pledged over 8,000 jobs since the campaign launched in January 2012. From those pledges, more than 5,400 jobs have been created. Our successful model has already been reproduced in the US and Nigeria, and emulated across Europe. Hireland began when a group of people involved in business, marketing and media decided to come together on a voluntary basis and do something to kick-start job creation by small and medium-sized businesses. We created the campaign on a shoestring and it flourished with the support and goodwill of business and media people who believed in our ‘Hire One’ strategy.

A toolkit for a movement Hireland was never about solving the unemployment problem. It was a movement designed to change the mindset of employers by encouraging them to think about hiring instead of firing during the recession. Now that Hireland has finished what it set out to do and the initiative is ending, its founders have one more goal - to encourage others to follow in their footsteps. “We want this ebook to be a toolkit for a movement. We hope that by showing how we achieved what we did and the struggles we had along the way, we’ll inspire others to get out there and do something themselves that will be a catalyst for change in their own communities,” Sybil Cope, Hireland campaign manager 2014.


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T HE CO S T OF E V E R Y J O B C R EA T ED T HR O UGH HI R EL A N D €2 0 1/ Winners of The Arthur Guinness Fund, Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Elevator Award, The Ireland Funds and finalists of the David Manley Awards. 2/ International outreach: We have had requests for help from people who want to replicate our model in Finland, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Poland, Portugal, Spain, the UK and the US. 3/ National and international coverage in media: Included in a three-part BBC documentary on the rise of people-powered movements. 4/ Featured in all major press, TV, radio and online channels in Ireland and also in Finland, France and the US.

“We wanted to reverse the way of thinking that had taken hold, where people believed nothing could be done about the high level of unemployment in Ireland at that time” Lucy Masterson, Hireland co-founder


On the eve of our launch, a toast from some of us to all of you from the kitchen table where the idea for this fantastic journey started.... rock on Hireland

how it all started Hireland began with some friends sitting around a kitchen table discussing the economic crisis that had hit Ireland.

Following the onset of a deep recession in 2008, horrifying numbers of job losses were being announced every day. The unemployment rate jumped to more than 14 per cent from 4.4 per cent. More than 400,000 people were out of work. The power of positive thinking Many people felt nothing could be done to stem the huge job losses or the skyrocketing emigration rate. But as we discussed the loss of so many young emigrants from Ireland, we began to form an idea of how we could counteract the prevailing sense of doom and do something positive. That idea became Hireland, a campaign with an easy-to-understand idea at it’s heart – getting Ireland back to work, one job at a time. We were not experts, but we hoped that by mobilising a spirit of willingness among the country’s 150,000 small and medium-sized businesses, we could help in some way to foster collective action and reverse the downward spiral in Ireland’s economy. As Hireland co-founder Michael Killeen puts it: “There was nothing iconic about the group of people who set up Hireland. We simply had a great idea and good timing.”

“Those who engaged with the initiative were more than willing to contribute towards Hireland. This is what ultimately led to us reaching our objectives.” Sharon Murphy, Co-founder


Gaining momentum We set up Hireland in January 2012 on a budget of just €149. Our supporters and volunteers quickly grew to include students from Champlain College and DIT, and professionals from the business, marketing and media sectors, all of whom gave their time for free and used their know-how and contacts to gain valuable exposure for the initiative. Soon, Hireland became a fully-fledged movement with wide support from employers and the media. National media organisations gave us approximately €2.5m in pro bono media, for example. Our initial goal was to reach 5,000 pledges in one year. In the end, we reached that in six months and two years on 8,000 pledges have been made.


Hireland heroes: Lismore Castle Arts, Co Waterford Pledged: 6 Hired: 8 Lismore Castle Arts, one of Ireland’s leading contemporary art galleries, took on employees through Hireland after reading about the initiative on Twitter. It initially pledged to employ six people, but ended up taking on eight staff members. “Our main space is open in the summer. Every year, we recruit casual staff as visitor services assistants to do a mixture of reception work and gallery invigilation. When I heard about Hireland, I thought it would be great to get involved with the campaign and we’re very happy we did so,” said the centre’s director Eamonn Maxwell. “What attracted me was the fact it was a national initiative and we felt it was a great marketing tool that was spreading the message that recruitment is back on again,” he added.

Hireland heroes: Mullingar Opticians, Co Westmeath Pledged: 1

“At the start, we said we’d be happy if just one person got a job. That many more did shows that a lot can be achieved when people come together without ulterior motives and to do something positive for the community” Martyn Rosney, WHPR (advisor to Hireland)

Hired: 1 Mullingar Opticians is an independently-owned Irish optician with two practices in Co Westmeath, and one in Enfield, in neighbouring Co Meath. The business was established in 2003. The group recently made a pledge to hire a full-time optical assistant on a six-month contract with the possibility that the job could evolve into a permanent position.

6,000+ jobs pledged in Year 1

Siobhan Maguire, owner of Mullingar Opticians, became involved with Hireland after hearing about the campaign on the radio. “We were very happy with the calibre of applicants that came through Hireland and got a great response. I felt it was an excellent service and would happily use it again,” she said.


IMpact on the ground

Since Hireland’s inception in 2012, more than 2,400 companies made 8,000 pledges resulting in over 5,400 people in direct employment because of the initiative.

Furthermore, thousands of job interviews have taken place around the country and Hireland has helped to inspire many other businesses to take a decidedly more positive approach to recruitment, even if they haven’t yet made a pledge.

We estimate that Hireland has saved the State more than €30 million in unemployment benefits. Pledging was easy Part of our campaign’s success was due to the ease with which companies could pledge a job. Firms could simply log on to the Hireland website, fill in the details of jobs in the pledge section and then follow up with job offers. As Hireland co-founder Michael Killeen makes clear, coming up with the idea of making a pledge was key to making the initiative work. “The hardest thing was to get people to make the decision to take people on. The pledge was the softer ask and the follow through in terms of making that a concrete job was easier then,” he said. “The idea of making it a pledge was a real win for us because there were lots of people who were keen to do that and it was a great publicity bonus for those that did,” he added.

Kickstarting debates Just as importantly as encouraging employers to take on more staff, Hireland helped to kickstart a debate about how we might do more to change the situation we found ourselves in. This was something the media could and did engage in, which helped to spread the campaign’s ‘Hire One’ message even further. “What stood out for me was the willingness of people to help with the Hireland message. Recession is a hugely oppressive weight and people were glad to respond positively by doing whatever they could. Employers seeing the work seemed spurred by the fact that Hireland was an initiative from ordinary folks, an idea that went all the way from their kitchen table to creating jobs where they were badly needed.” Eoghan Nolan, Creative Director, Brand Artillery 6


Hireland heroes: Clonmel Chamber of Commerce “I first heard about Hireland through a radio programme called the Small Business Show, a syndicated radio programme with which I’m involved. Co founder Lucy Masterson was on as a guest and when she spoke about the initiative, I thought it was a fantastic idea and one that would resonate with members of the Clonmel Chamber of Commerce. “I invited Lucy along to speak at our annual conference, which attracts up to 200 attendees and she was very much the star turn. On foot of that, a lot of our members became involved in Hireland and made job pledges. What was appealing about the campaign was that it resonated with our members because there’s a ‘can do’ attitude at work, which is just like their approach. “Hireland encourages people to pick up the cudgel and get out there and act, which is something that the Chamber also seeks to promote.” Brian Cleary, chief executive Clonmel Chamber of Commerce, one of the largest business services organisations in Ireland.

Impact for individuals: Having a job = having a say

When someone gets a job, they tend to feel more fulfilled. They are contributing to society and supporting themselves and their family.

Impact for BUSINESSES:

New blood = innovation and growth When a business hires someone, they benefit from fresh thinking and new energy. Overall staff morale increases and the business becomes poised for growth.

Brian Cleary, chief executive Clonmel Chamber of Commerce. 7

The wider influence Hireland’s aim wasn’t just to see more jobs being created. It was also to inspire debate and change attitudes so that people could feel empowered, both in Ireland and further afield. We were delighted that our movement had international appeal and influence.

It received worldwide media attention and helped to change the way that others viewed Ireland, which had been the subject of intensely negative media during the recession. Inciting international interest The launch of the campaign was covered in international publications such as the New York Times. Hireland also featured in a three-part documentary from the BBC on the increasing popularity of people-powered movements.Media outlets in France and Finland also reported on Hireland. As Ireland had recently been in the headlines around the world for all the wrong reasons following the banking crisis and subsequent European Union-International Monetary Fund bailout, Hireland presented more positive news.

A sister organisation in US This coverage not only boosted the number of pledges made by local businesses, but also encouraged the setting up of a sister organisation known as UHireUS, which was endorsed by the Clinton Global Initiative. We’ve also had requests to replicate the model from organisations in countries such as Poland, Nigeria, Spain, Portugal, Finland and the UK. “The international reaction was interesting, especially with the Clinton Global Initiative becoming involved through UHireUs. I did a presentation abroad and the reaction to what we were doing was simply incredible,” said Michael Killeen. “People were blown away by the campaign. Ireland at that time was in a difficult situation and everyone knew that but Hireland really struck a chord with people and has had a massive impact on the way the country is perceived.”

Irish media coverage Closer to home, Hireland’s efforts were covered by all major press, television, radio and online channels in Ireland. The country’s most respected newspaper, the Irish Times, produced a 16-page supplement (which we liked to call “The Hirish Times”). It envisioned how Ireland could be in 2023 if Irish people engaged with the spirit of collective entrepreneurialism. It included guest articles from Bono and Bob Geldof.


We want to inspire others to do their own versions of Hireland. We did this using our networks and collective entrepreneurialism and others can too. Jane Lorigan, co-founder

Hireland saved Ireland more than €30m in unemployment benefit payments SEI awardees 2012

“We are proud that the fund helped Hireland accelerate its efforts to address the issue of unemployment.”

Awardees of The Arthur Guinness Fund, Social Entrepreneurs Ireland and The Ireland Funds

Angela Smith, Arthur Guinness Fund ‘Hireland has been a brilliant initiative that has allowed people make a direct contribution to rebuilding not only our economy but our society and sense of community. ” Hugo MacNeill- The Ireland Funds “Social entrepreneurship is ultimately about someone starting with a powerful idea and making amazing things happen. Social Entrepreneurs Ireland has been privileged to have been part of the Hireland journey.” Sean Coughlan, Social Entrepreneurs Ireland


TESTIMONIALS “It is such a positive push just making the pledge. Thank you guys for creating the idea” Tus Nua Designs “As a sole trader, I pledged a job. Hireland was the motivation I needed to take the plunge and employ my first employee ever. They started in May and it’s working out great.” Bridget Kerrigan, Co Louth

“Thank you for the opportunities you have given us, other small businesses and the jobseekers of Ireland helping Ireland back to work again” Stephen Garvey, “We have hired four men and a woman through the Hireland programme and we are committed to hiring a further four more now that things are again moving for the sector. Keep up the good work and continue to look on with excitement as it will all come around again, with the help of people like yourselves bringing a positive can-do attitude back to our bruised shores.” Martin Grogan, “Without the influence of Hireland, my new job would never have materialised and there is a strong possibility that I would now be living somewhere else in the world trying to earn a living.” Stephen Reddin, jobseeker


Overcoming challenges While we’re happy to report that Hireland has encouraged so many employers to take on an employee, it hasn’t entirely been plain sailing We had to overcome a few obstacles in setting up the campaign and we never got to pursue many of the strategic goals we had outlined early on.

Ploughing our own furrow Early on, we looked at getting Government support through agencies such as the then Irish National Training and Employment Agency (known as FÁS and now dissolved) and JobBridge, the National Internship Scheme. However, we decided that going it alone benefit Hireland more over time. “Being independent meant gave us flexibility and meant that everyone could become involved. There were no party politics attached to the campaign and we could do whatever we wanted,” said co-founder Jane Lorigan.

The effort for sustainability We spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to make the campaign sustainable, but in the end, we couldn’t manage it. “As a kitchen table start-up, we relied entirely on goodwill, but that is not enough in the long term. What attracted so many people to get involved was simple - no one was making anything from Hireland. We didn’t even have a bank account. We were doing this because we believed in it and because we were passionate about the difference even one job could make. But in the end you need a sustainable business model to keep the wheels turning,” said Lucy Masterson. As co-founder Gerard O’Neill notes, we were caught in a catch-22. “The fact that we were relying on goodwill was partly what made Hireland unsustainable. The inevitable consequence, as soon as we took on a sponsor, was that we’d have lost the goodwill.”

Missed opportunities The Hireland team had all sorts of ideas to spread the hiring message and to mobilise grassroots support, but regrettably we could not proceed with many of them, mainly because of a lack of resources. We would have loved to produce the roadshow we had planned to bring the Hireland concept to different communities around Ireland, for example. We also wanted to appoint local ambassadors to promote the benefits of hiring and to encourage small businesses to make hiring pledges. And we had extensive plans for a mentoring programme, which we were also unable to get off the ground. We wanted to encourage local business people who could not hire someone to mentor an unemployed person and help them to find work. Where the Hireland message was ‘Hire one’, the mentoring scheme message would have been ‘Help one’. 11

@GraftonMedia / 2 May 2012 / @hire_one since our pledge, we’ve taken on 9 fantastic new members of staff! #positiveireland

@hireland_ng / 22 Apr 2013 / @hire_one Thanks, you gave us the inspiration to start, our program launches officially in June. we’ve got 15 pledges already...Hire Nigeria

@schoolofwork / 25 Feb 2013 / Delighted @hire_one to have hired Lynda for our new document scanning business #greatskills

@SEIreland / 18 Jun 2013 / “We were going to prove to the world how a small nation can pull itself up by its boot straps!” @hire_one #impactseries

SUCCESS FACTORS We realised early on that winning over the media would be crucial if we were to achieve our aims.

@hire_one / 6 Feb 2013 / Hireland challenges the nation to think differently through Irish Times supplement @GenEmigration / 6 Feb 2023 / Regeneration from Emigration? In @hire_one 2023 supplement @Ciaraky imagines returnees reinvigorating the country @chrisdooley1 / 6 Feb 2023 / Interview with Bono... by Bono... from the future... from space #irishtimes @hire_one / 22 Feb 2014 / 23 jobs pledged today #hireland from Cavan to Tipp, something for everyone

While our team of volunteers included a number of experienced marketing and communications specialists, we knew the campaign wouldn’t necessarily be an easy sell. Media support With the country in the doldrums following the bailout, many people were cynical at first. Lucy Masterson recalls pitching the campaign to the chief executives of nine radio stations and asking them for pro-bono support for the project. “They looked at me as if I were insane, asked me if I was on drugs, and joked kindly about the naïveté of thinking we could kickstart a movement that would reverse unemployment numbers. But in the end we won them round and the radio community became our strongest supporter. The press and outdoor advertisers were quick to follow suit.” As Hireland co-founder and chief executive at the national radio station Today FM Peter McPartlin recalls: “not many businesses were in a position to afford huge advertising campaigns, so offering space to Hireland for free was doable and we felt that anything which would help kickstart the economy had to be a good thing.” By the end of the first week of its launch, Hireland had received 1,177 job pledges from businesses all around the country and this was before the full advertising campaign got underway! In its first year, Hireland received free advertising valued at more than €1.5m.

“The team managed to sum up a complex enough idea into a simple message that worked on a billboard or the side of a bus.” Kingsley Aikins, Co-founder 12

Spot-on creative Drawing on the expertise of the many professional marketing experts involved, we were able to position Hireland as “a sexy brand in an unsexy category”, as Kingsley Aikins describes it. The ability to distil the co-founders’ ideas into a brief, easy-to-understand message helped garner widespread support from both the media and businesses. “Tony Purcell and I had experience of redundancy and we know how it affects people. They are our friends, family and neighbours, and not faceless unemployment statistics. So it felt right to say ‘Hire Ann’ and to personalise the message.” Eoghan Nolan, co-creator of the Hireland campaign with Tony Purcell.

“ In addition to the ‘Hire One’ idea we also came up with the plan to name individuals in the campaign. We kept seeing pictures of unemployed people on the news whose faces were hidden. We weren’t afraid to put names to faces tell their stories and show the impact that companies could have by choosing to employ them,” Martyn Rosney added.

Old-fashioned PR and networking The team used their marketing know-how to sell Hireland to the media. That the campaign was a possible good news story did no harm but as Martyn says, hitting the phones helped push the initiative out into the world. “In the end, the success of the PR campaign was due to old-fashioned networking. We picked up the phone, put in the calls and made the most of our connections. This and a great message were key to the success of the initiative,” he said.

Surfing the zeitgeist For a movement to really capture the imagination of the public, it has to resonate with the culture and social atmosphere of the time. With Hireland, we were able to tap into a real desire for positivity and change in Ireland during a time of economic recession. “At the time, the media landscape was very negative and our whole idea was to push that change in attitude. From that point of view, we were pushing on an open door. There was an appetite for good news and people were pleased to see private business doing something better.”

“Greater than the tread of mighty armies is an idea whose time has come.” Victor Hugo


in pro bono media from Irish newspapers, broadcast and outdoor media

Or, as Kingsley Aikins puts it, “There was a voltage out there and we were the transformer”.

Hire Peter. Hireland is a initiative of ordinary people who work in, and own, Irish businesses. We believe we have to change the way we think. Do things for ourselves. So Hireland is asking everyone who can pledge a job - to hire NOW. If just a small percentage of employers hire one person, we’re in business.



Here are our top 10 tips for success. Plan it

Hireland was about changing the mindset of small and medium-sized Irish business around unemployment. The final thing we want to do is change the mindset of other people so they are motivated to go and do something themselves. We want to inspire you to start a movement of your own to promote and achieve social good. We would love to see you do your thing in your community, whether that is in an area, a sector, an industry or somewhere else.

“Don’t jump in too fast. Don’t think your first idea will be THE idea. We had a year of meticulous planning.” Lucy Masterson

Be prepared “We did our research and our homework before the launch and we prepped answers for every possible question we could have been asked about Hireland.” Michael Killeen

Be clear “We had a clear, simple proposition with an attractive name.” Peter McPartlin

Be authentic “The authenticity of the idea is vital. Brands must empathise and act with integrity. Otherwise, it’s not going to work.” Eoghan Nolan

Be independent “Don’t align yourself with someone else or another organisation if you have any concern they might dictate things or take over.” Lucy Masterson

Stay focused “We never lost sight of why we were doing this. At every meeting, we asked ourselves, ‘Are we doing enough to help?’. We always remembered the situation the country was in and what we were trying to achieve.” Sharon Murphy

Be realistic “We made the ask for what people could give. We looked for free media support in January, when it was quiet, not just before Christmas.” Martyn Rosney

Be sure of what you want “We did not beat around the bush. We went and asked for something in a very clear way. If we had been more vague, we might not have got what we wanted.” Jane Lorigan

Be restrained “Don’t dive in from the very beginning with a paid CEO and offices. Cross that bridge when you can. We were all working at other jobs. A movement doesn’t need a CEO. It needs energy and direction.” Kingsley Aikins

Have a time limit “We did what we set out to do… If there is a time in your country or community when you can effect change, maybe you can do it for just a few months or years. It doesn’t have to be forever.” Gerard O’Neill 14

HIRELAND THANKS... Above everyone else, the Hireland team would like to give a special thanks to one of our co-founders Lucy Masterson. A volunteer like the rest of us, she went above and beyond in donating her time, energy and spark to the movement. She took the reins and drove us forward. Thanks Lucy!

“She developed a style and tone that was honest, brave and friendly, but also recognised everyone that participated in the right way.” Michael Killeen “Lucy was the engine behind Hireland. She’s a force of nature.” Sharon Murphy “Hireland would have died without her.” Kingsley Aikins We would also like to give particular thanks to Social Entrepreneurs Ireland (SEI) and the Arthur Guinness Fund. The awards, funding and support we received from them were paramount to our success. Their belief in Hireland and our team motivated us and validated our goal of encouraging Irish SMEs to hire. Hireland also received support from the Ireland Funds and was a finalist in the David Manley Awards

Jane Lorigan

Peter McPartlin

Sybil Cope

Kingsley Aikins

Michael Killeen

Gerard O’Neill

Sharon Murphy

Martyn Rosney

Lucy Masterson

Eoghan Nolan

Tony Purcell


THANK YOU! Sean Moncrieff, Conor Killeen, Dermot Desmond, Leslie Buckley, Angela Smith, Declan Ryan, Noel Storey, Paddy Kennedy, Iain MacDonald, Domhnal Slattery, Kevin O’Sullivan, Harry Slowey, Eoghan Nolan, Tony Purcell, Patrick O’Flaherty, Simon Durham, Hugo Mac Neill, Mark Nolan, Sean Coughlan, Caitriona Fottrell, Bono, Terry McManus, Conor Jones, Cheri Gmiter, Sara Faulkner, Ciaran Durnin, Dave Finney, David Provost, Gary Moore, Hannah Long, Ivan Fitzpatrick, Margaret Gilsenan, Niall Flynn, Richard Browne, Richard Kendrick, Jordan Wheeler, Roddy Guiney, Scott Willams, Brian Quinn, Stanley Rapp, Stephen Robinson, Suzi Jarvis, Tom Lyga, Willie O’Reilly, Darragh McCann, Gervaise Slowey, David McRedmond, Liam Kavanagh, Liam Thompson, Ian Staunton, Jimmy Magee, Dawn Bradfield, Jenny Buckley, John Desmond, Paddy Halpenny, Pamela Fay, Martyn Rosney, Saragh Killeen, Mary Pat Killeen, Alan Moore, Sybil Cope, Sharon Murphy, Gerard O’Neill, Jane Lorigan, Peter McPartlin, Kingsley Aikins, Michael Killeen, Lucy Masterson. Allianz, Amarach Research, Arthur Guinness Fund, Avolon, Ballynahinch Castle, Beacon Studios, Brand Artillery, Brindley Advertising, Carat Ireland, Champlain College Dublin and Vermont,, Communicorp Group, Company Bureau Formations, David Manley Awards, Design Tub, Dialogue Marketing, Distilled Media, DIT,, Finance One, FocuSMEIreland, Fumbally Exchange, Fusio Web Design, Fusion Marketing Cork, Hyphen, Independent Broadcasters of Ireland, Independent Radio Sales, iProspect, Irish Daily Mail, Irish Daily Star, Irish Independent News and Media, Irish Internet Advertising Association, Irish TV, KCLR FM, Key Capital, Kinetic Media, Life on Media, Lotus Films, Lucidity Digital, Media Force, Metro Herald, News International, O’Brien, Curran, O’Mahony Accountants, Paddy Power, Setanta, Simply Zesty, Skills Pages, Sky TV, Small Business Can, Social Entrepreneurs Ireland, Sunday Business Post, The Ireland Funds, The Irish Times, The Saon Group, The Type Bureau, Treetop Studio, TV3, UCD Innovation Academy, University of Pittsburgh, UTV Radio Solutions, Vizeum, Voice Talent Ireland, Wilson Hartnell PR, Windmill Lane. (Thank you to those not listed, the thousands who hired and made this happen) Contact:

Hireland: The story of a kitchen table movement  

This insightful e-book formally marks the Hireland journey. Hireland is a jobs initiative run as a social enterprise set up by people who ow...

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