June 28, 2011

VA Investigates: O'Leary PR's Aoife Murtagh

Aoife Murtagh is an Account Manager with Dublin PR agency O'Leary PR and looks after brands like Avon, Sally Hansen and Green Angel.

Aoife kindly agreed to be the next feature of our VA Investigates series, which aims to give you a behind the scenes look into all areas of the beauty industry (Click here for our chat with MUA Simone Gannon and here for our chat with Blogger/YouTuber Leanne Woodfull).

We recently caught up with Aoife and asked her about what it's really like to work in PR, her impressions of the ever-expanding Irish online beauty community and what her own beauty necessities are.

How did you end up working in PR? Was it something that you always wanted to do?

A family friend worked in PR and I always thought her job seemed really interesting. When the opportunity came around in transition year for work experience at the agency I jumped at the chance to see what the career was all about. From then on I knew PR was something I would be interested in pursuing . I did  a few weeks/months in the same agency any time I got a break from school and then college which gave me a great insight into the industry and a head start for when I was qualified and ready to go in to PR full time.

A lot of people think PR is an amazing job, especially beauty PR. Is it all glamour all the time or, are there tough aspects of the job too?

I think PR gives you a unique opportunity to work with great brands, meet lots of interesting people and utilise your creativity but similarly  I believe PR is one of the most challenging jobs out there. I love what I do and it is a pleasure working with the brands  I look after but the career is in no way glamorous.

The role of a PR consultant involves, hard work, long hours and a lot of multi-tasking, particularly in a PR agency where you are working on several brands, all of which require equal standout. I  have a huge interest in my clients and enjoy working hard to see them do well.  There is no better feeling than opening a magazine, turning on the TV, seeing/hearing your brand be featured! The buzz never goes out of it!

Do you have any advice for people considering a career in PR?

I think I would tell them to be prepared to work  very hard. Make yourself available as much as possible, get as much experience as you can , read as many newspapers, magazines and listen to as many radio stations as you can to make yourself familiar with the various outlets and contacts in those areas. Obviously social media is getting more and more important so Twitter and Facebook accounts are a must to see what is happening out there in your clients’ specific sectors. Keeping up to speed with bloggers is also hugely important as this is an area that is ever changing and growing.

Irish Beauty Community

The number of Irish beauty blogs has kind of exploded over the last six months. What do you think of this online beauty community?

I think it is fantastic, as a beauty fan I love reading about all the new products available and from a work side there are more outlets to tap in to from a client perspective.

Free products for review have become quite controversial in the beauty community as of late- no matter how honest and transparent the blogger is. As someone on the other side of this community who likes to see products reviewed, do you understand this controversy or think it’s a bit unnecessary?

I think it works both ways, PR companies facilitate bloggers and help them generate content for their blog which is obviously far more cost effective than bloggers buying products. It opens bloggers up to a wealth of brands they might never have seen/tried or are prohibitively expensive to trial for their blogs. At the same time I think PR consultants and in turn brands have to be realistic and be prepared to accept a negative comment/review if the blogger feels the product didn’t work for them. I always welcome feedback positive or negative as it is beneficial for the brand to hear. I think once the blogger and the PR consultant are transparent and honest about reviews it works for everyone.

When you are trying to find websites/blogs that are a good fit for your products, what are some things you look for in a website?

I look at the style of the blog, content, writing, appearance, blog traffic, followers, wealth of brands being reviewed, reviews themselves, imagery, swatches etc.

Now, onto the important stuff- your own beauty preferences!

What’s in your make-up bag/handbag right now?

I have lots of things- I am a total make-up junkie and, I wouldn’t mind but, I don’t even wear that much make-up (well at least I think I don’t!!)

Foundation: Laura Mercier- Moisturising Foundation
Primer: Laura Mercier Foundation Primer
Concealer: MAC Studio Finish in NC20
Under-eye concealer: Lancome Effacernes Longue Tenue
Powder: Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Powder (which I dropped and broke the other day- sob!)
Eyeliner: Giorgio Armani- Smooth Silk Eye Pencil
Eyeshadow: MAC- I made a little quad including Texture, Vanilla, Patina and Embark.
Mascara: I work off two different ones;  Lancome Hypnose/Definicils and Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill
Blush: Stila Convertible Color (which I got in NYC)
Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Cream (my desert island product)
·         Avon – Pretty much all the Moisture Seduction and Coloridisiac Range (the benefit to working with beauty brands- fave colours include Red Kiss, Flirty Fuchsia,
·         Giorgio Armani- Rouge d’Armani
Lips: Bio Propolis Cold Sore Barrier Ointment- Just in case, also v good for dry lips         
Nails: Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure Kooka Mango and OPI Elephantastic with a top coat of Insta-Dri which makes it dry super speedily as I am a terrible smudger!
Brushes: MAC

Both Dee and I are mad into lipstick, are you a lipstick or lipgloss girl at heart?

I used to be a die-hard lipgloss girl back in the day but now I have embraced the lipstick I’d never go back! I love all the creamy and bright shades that make your lips pop!  They brighten up any outfit.

What’s your all-time favourite make-up brand?

Do I have to name just one? Eeek! I am a complete beauty junkie so I have to say for Kiehls (skincare), Giorgio Armani (eyeliner and mascara), Lancome (under eye concealer and mascara) and MAC (for eyeshadows and lipsticks). I have also just tried Laura Mercier for foundation and I am impressed so far! I really miss Stila, I loved their products, especially their  convertible colors and their hair refresher powder!

Are there any beauty brands, past or present, that you would love to represent?

Yikes,  loads of them! Chanel, Armani….I do think the Body Shop have always had the perfect balance between good quality, cost effective products while also doing a lot of good work through their various different CSR and philanthropic activities.  One of the reasons I love working with Avon is because the brand supports  local charities and helps women so much around the world through their Breast Cancer Crusade and Domestic Violence campaigns. It’s nice to know that you can make a difference.

What beauty crimes/peeves do you hate-orange tan, chipped nail varnish, panda eyes?

Two things really annoy me; Foundation that doesn’t match your skin type, especially when there is tide marks left around the neck and I absolutely hate bad fake tan.  It’s tricky to achieve a natural, perfect look but if you can’t do it yourself either get a professional or abandon altogether!

Do you have one piece of beauty advice that you live by?

Always wear sunscreen! And take care of your skin. I just wish I could practice what I preach after a few drinks…I am a devil for leaving my make-up on at night so if I am really wrinkly in years to come you’ll know why!

Thanks for chatting to us Aoife!




  1. Brilliant interview girls, I love these interview posts.

    Haha, they're my beauty pet hates too.

  2. Great post girls, really good to hear what PR companies look for in a blog

  3. That is interresting! Thanks for that!

  4. Brilliant idea for a series and great interview, really enjoyed reading it.

  5. Thanks for all lovely comments guys, glad you enjoyed it!


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