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From The Gathering To Becoming A Husky

Amanda Kavanagh recently joined the Huskies pack, having worked previously for Irish tourism initiative, The Gathering. Here, she reflects on the move...

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A pang of shame hit me. The thunderous noise of 1,693 Riverdancers all in a row came to an abrupt stop. Cue cheers and hugs.

Dance schools had come from Japan and Brazil to be part of this. I had travelled less than three miles and couldn't dance a single step.*

Still, I was there to share the moment, not be part of it.

I was working as social media manager for The Gathering 2013; Ireland's largest ever tourism initiative, and we were over halfway through the year.

The first question people in Ireland ask me about The Gathering 99.9% of the time is about Gabriel Byrne. Yes, it made my job difficult for a few weeks. No, I don't think he's a jerk. Yes, The Usual Suspects is still a great film.

Byrne said that the bridge between Ireland and its diaspora is broken. I think The Gathering showed the opposite to be true - new connections were made and existing relationships strengthened. And hey, maybe that kick up the arse helped.

As the online eyes of the project, I read messages from people who came to Ireland to trace their ancestors, people who still dream of visiting, as well as messages from small businesses who benefited directly from groups visiting for family and clan gatherings. All would soften the most hardened cynics. It was a real perk of the job.

Digital played a big role in trying to reach the right audience globally — a lot of people claim Irish heritage worldwide. From micro-targeting individual gatherings to niche interest groups abroad, showcasing content created by Gathering organisers and feeding out content that previewed or captured events, social played a big part. With video production, photography, blogs and illustration, it was a real robust project to work on.

As an ex journalist, content is my first love, so I'm delighted to be starting as a Husky, as I reckon they're leading the pack (sorry) in content marketing. There are less dogs in the office than I was led to believe, but ho hum, you can't have it all.

*In my defence it was line dancing (blame Garth Brooks) and hip-hop that dominated playgrounds of the '90s. I didn't stand a chance.