Business News

60 seconds with: Ellen Gunning

By Business & Finance
24 April 2017
Ellen Gunning

Director of Irish Academy of Public Relations, Ellen Gunning, takes the Business & Finance 60-second challenge.

Q. What was your first job?

I worked as a telephonist with An Bord Bainne.

Q. What would you regard as your greatest achievement to date?

Each achievement builds on the previous one. I couldn’t choose one.

Let me give you a few: creating and building the Irish Academy of Public Relations over the last 25 years; joint-venturing with Arab partners in the Middle East; working with the World Trade Centres in Chile and Uruguay; doing an MA in Communications and Cultural Studies (a great learning process); writing my first book (the core text for people studying PR in Ireland); serving on the boards of the National Concert Hall and the Irish Red Cross; winning the national European Parliament Broadcast Journalist of the Year award (what an honour); writing a monthly blog for the Microsoft’s SME website (David writes for Goliath); giving a Google author talk; guest commentating on Making the News on Ireland AM; presenting my own radio show; and chairing the board of Dublin City FM (we just won a new 10-year licence from BAI).

Q. If you could step into the shoes of one businessperson for the day, who would it be and why?

Richard Branson – a tremendous entrepreneur.

He really understands the power of branding. He has a hunger for knowledge and a great self-belief. He obviously has the ability to keep enormous amounts of information in his head. He has mastered the art of finding the right people to do the vital jobs so that he can move on and create the next business venture.

His playtime (ballooning, space travel, etc.) is also linked to his business.

If I don’t get my first choice (you’re arranging this right?), I’ll have Tony O’Reilly, Rupert Murdoch, Victoria Beckham or Denis O’Brien please.

Q. In three words or less, how do you define success?

My two favourite words are ‘world domination’. They describe my ambition for my business and the achievement of that goal will bring me continued ‘happiness’ so my three words must be: world domination and happiness.

Q. How do you motivate yourself and your staff?

I can honestly say that I have never consciously motivated myself or my staff. I wake up every morning looking forward to the day ahead.

I am fascinated by everything to do with communications, which is a vibrant and constantly changing environment. I am blessed that I am surrounded by people who are smart, capable, passionate about what they do, and empowered to do it. I don’t have a team member who needs motivation.

Q. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

I’m a member of Plato Dublin, and the advice came from a casual chat at one of our monthly meetings: “If you believe you can do it – you can. If you believe you can’t do it – you can’t.” It resonated.

Q. How do you relax?

I love to travel and explore cultural difference. My business is multi-cultural (I currently work with people from Spain, Italy, USA and Germany), so I can almost say that when I’m holidaying I’m working!

I also enjoy gardening, radio and writing books. My most recent ‘10 Red Hot Tips to Promote your Business’ was published last November.

Q. What’s your motto?

Bring it on.

Q. What are your aspirations for the future of your business?

World domination – you haven’t been paying attention!

I can honestly say that I have never consciously motivated myself or my staff. I wake up every morning looking forward to the day ahead


Ellen Gunning is a director of the Irish Academy of Public Relations, which she formed in 1992.

The Academy provides online training, worldwide, in public relations, journalism, event management, marketing, radio journalism and grammar. Academy graduates are based in 50 countries around the world.

The Academy’s courses are taught in six languages: English, French, Spanish, Russian, Polish and Arabic.

Through Irish Academy Training, Gunning provides SMEs nationwide with courses in communications, leadership, marketing, business and social media.

Ellen has worked in PR and Event Management since the 1980s and has been retained to handle some of the largest PR campaigns in the country, including The Kerrygold Dublin Horse Show, National Energy Awareness Week and a Presidential campaign.

A member of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) for over 20 years, she is also a member of the European Association of Journalists (EAJ).

She is a broadcast media journalist and a chairman of the board of directors of Dublin City FM radio station where she presents a weekly programme – Mediascope.