Ten days touring Ireland: Online media and social media analysis of the Mayor of Boston’s visit

by Stephen O'Leary on 09/10/14

The Irish economy is the fastest growing in the EU, with predicted economic growth of 4.5% this year. This growth has led to positive media coverage for the country in the international press. An editorial in the Financial Times noted last week: “strong growth demonstrates that tough choices do pay off”.

This media coverage was further boosted during the recent visit of the Mayor of Boston, Marty Walsh. His 11-day tour of Ireland had a very positive impact on Ireland’s international reputation. Olytico monitored and analysed the conversation throughout Mr Walsh’s travels, focusing on both online editorial coverage and Twitter activity, where the hashtag ‘#WalshIRE’ was used to promote the visit.

Mayor Walsh Image
Map of Mayor Walsh’s Ireland itinerary – Image Credit Luke Knox, Boston Globe

 

Online Editorial Coverage

The media on both sides of the Atlantic documented every step of his journey.

During the visit, 338 articles were published on the subject.

 

In addition to the obvious interest of the Irish media, the story was also covered in the international press, particularly in the US, where over 280 articles were published:

 

 

Leading publications that covered the visit included:

The Boston Globe: Walsh to import Ireland’s heritage tourism model

Belfast Telegraph: Belfast Giants to make a bid for return of the Bruins

Irish Times: Boston mayor to explore business links on visit to roots

The Tech (MIT): Locals in Ireland anticipate first visit from Walsh as Boston mayor

Financial Tech: Boston Mayor Celebrates Belfast Connection with Liberty News IT

Travel and Tour World:  Cathaoirligh and Irish mayors plus US mulit-national business representatives among those to welcome Mayor back to Shannon

Twitter Coverage

In addition to the valuable exposure for Ireland generated by the publications listed above, social networks, and Twitter in particular featured regular updates on the visit. Indeed, the increasing overlap between news outlets online editions and their Twitter accounts was highlighted by The Boston Globe who sent their reporter Andrew Ryan to document the tour.

As well as Ryan’s reporting, another Boston Globe reporter Kevin Cullen also shared updates on Twitter.

Irish Coverage

Headlines such as “Boston mayor welcomed back to the land of his parents”, and “Mayor of Boston begins ten day tour of Ireland” featured in online news outlets across Ireland.

On Twitter, local businesses, groups and associations shared photographs and links to news coverage of the visit.

Business and Tourism

Mr Walsh, who took office in January, met with academic, business and civic leaders during his trip as he hopes to build business and tourism links between Ireland and Boston. Additionally, he hopes to encourage investment in companies that have a presence here from the US city, while also encouraging emerging successful Irish companies to look to Boston to expand.

The Mayor met with bosses from Primark who will open its first US store in Boston next year.

Mayor Walsh was invited over to Ireland by the chairwoman of Shannon Airport, Rose Hynes, who led a delegation to visit him in Boston in February, weeks after he entered office.

Other highlights of the visit included meetings at City Hall in Dublin:

In Belfast, the Mayor backed a bid to bring a major ice hockey tournament to the city:

 

Mayor Walsh returned to Boston on September 29th. The coverage of his visit – across news and social networks – reinforces the impact high profile visits can have on Ireland’s international reputation.

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