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This is the question being addressed at the inaugural Passive House Association of Ireland Conference, taking place in Belfast on Friday 10th May. The conference, supported by The Royal Society of Ulster Architects and Kingspan Insulation, has been developed to debate, challenge and address how the industry in NI needs to move forward and embrace new ways of tackling fuel poverty.

The 2016 Northern Ireland House Condition survey showed that 22% of households were living in fuel poverty in Northern Ireland; the private rented sector is the worst affected by fuel poverty with most recent figures at 26.3%; and in 2017-18 there were 1,500 excess winter deaths with 30% attributable to living in a cold home. In addition, 68% of households in Northern Ireland are reliant on home heating oil; an unregulated fuel in terms of price and customer protection.

Panellists and attendees will be privy to the latest research and development in the field, and there will be the opportunity for much lively conversation – with focus given to retrofit and new build housing.

The conference will have an esteemed panel of industry experts leading the discussions which includes: Director of Fuel Poverty Coalition NI, Pat Austin; County Architect for Dún Laoghaire and Rathdown County Council, Andrée Dargan; Dr. Shane Colclough from University of Ulster; Green Party NI Leader, Claire Bailey; Caroline Best Project Architect at the Northern Ireland Housing Executive; Managing Director of Mosart & Passive House Academy, Tomas O’Leary; and Chair of PHAB Group and GP Developments, Garrett Quinn.

The conference keynote speaker will be the Housing Development Manager for Exeter City Council, Emma Osmundsen who will be discussing her council’s policy and successes in social housing by implementing low energy, healthy and climate resilient buildings.

Speaking about the upcoming event, Paul McAlister, Chairman of the PHAI, said, “This is a discussion which is long overdue, and we are delighted with the positive response from across the political and civic spectrum to our first ever conference tackling this issue.

“Fuel poverty affects thousands of households in Northern Ireland and decisive action is needed. The main issue is that there is a lack of understanding of the benefits of low energy housing and a perception that it is more costly to implement this approach; which is not correct. We believe that this conference marks an important first step in addressing the problem, and we hope that it will motivate our business and community leaders to embrace and be more open to recognising the potential of ultra-low energy housing.”

Tickets for the conference are currently available via priced at £55pp general admission and £45pp for PHAI members.




Social media: we all use it, whether we love or – let’s be honest – sometimes loathe it. We have been rattling our social media brains to pick out some top tips to help you stay on top of your social media game, ensuring your content is hashtag on fleek!

  1. Authenticity

Focus more on communication than selling: Don’t make your engagement a sales pitch; work on forming relationships with your followers, get to know them and create engaging content that is of interest to them. This means stepping away from constant sales pitches, with a slant towards more social-focused posts, offering opportunities for followers to get involved and give their opinion.

In the moment content: Highly-produced content is influencing us to switch off and engage less. Current focus has moved towards authenticity and giving followers an opportunity to gain unfiltered access. This is helped by a recent surge in the use of ephemeral content across various social media outlets. Think less about the ‘perfect’ 15 seconds you are trying to create and shift your content to be more real life…no one likes over-produced content.

Give creative freedom: Content can very quickly become staged by giving people rules and guidelines to follow. Whether it’s your creative team, or that micro-blogger that you recently managed to get on board – it’s absolutely vital that you give them the freedom and trust to get creative with the content you require. Eagle-eyed followers are finding it easier to spot staged content and this presents a lack of integrity from both the brand and blogger.

  1. Community

Along with authenticity comes community: By creating authentic content and allowing followers to gain insight into the behind-the-scenes of your organisation, you can produce a community as people begin to feel more connected, with you and one another.

In the past, most company social media pages were managed by an invisible identity who acted as the one spokesperson for the company. Now, it’s all about getting to know the faces behind social media pages, which allows followers to relate to the organisation more. Knowing there is a group of like-minded individuals rather than one large company with one voice helps build on that community feel.

Selfie Central: You may have noticed the increase in speaking to the camera on various platforms, but mainly Instagram. Perfect for creating content for stories, this recent adaption from professionally shot informative videos, to more casual face-to-camera pieces show a move into more authentic content. This allows people to feel closer to the organisation as it comes across as more relatable.

These short face-to-camera video clips offer ways for followers to interact and share their opinions, rather than feeling like all communication with the organisation should be formal or corporate.


  1. Loyalty

Some may argue that using social media can impact and retain brand loyalty while others believe the contrary. One way or another, followers are going to come and go, so its about unique, fun and engaging content to make them stay.

Loyalty has become key when engaging on social media. With countless different social accounts for various businesses and organisations out there to follow, it’s easy for your followers to opt out and find new favourites. The focus is on offering real and authentic content, which helps your followers to feel a sense of community. This helps form a loyal connection to the brand or organisation.

Loyal influencers: Influencers are quickly becoming a great way to boost your brand awareness, but with so many great options to choose from, who is going to best represent your brand? It’s important to ensure that representors can remain loyal to the brand that they are working with. Don’t contact every influencer you spot, research them, find out if they fit your brand image and decide if you are a good fit together! It’s important to have representors who truly embody your brand and will be excited to champion your organisation.

Micro-Influencers: Micro-influencers are becoming first choice to many digital focused brands, as they exemplify a committed and authentic obligation to present their followers with good content and brands. It’s also a good opportunity for brands to target a certain niche – for example ‘mummy bloggers’ or ‘eco-focused families’ as there are many micro-influencers that have a loyal following from certain people groups.


At Rumour Mill Creative Communications, we work with various clients and influencers, who have successfully helped maintain and grow brand awareness. Having such positive relationships with influencers from across all sectors including fashion, food and business, we are confident we will pick the best people to represent your organisation. We want your brand to reflect your mission and help achieve your business goal. Let’s have a chat to see how we can help.



Mid Ulster stylists, Barbers of BT45/Barbers of BT80 and Salon 45, are celebrating after being named as the only salon chosen to represent Northern Ireland at the L’Oréal Colour Trophy grand final in London this June, in three categories. The first time this has ever been achieved, making history.

The L’Oréal Colour Trophy is the longest running live hairdressing competition in the world – having started in 1954 – and it has hosted thousands of the industry’s most prestigious talents over the years. Competitors are given just 30 minutes in front of a live audience to style a model of their choice before the models are required to partake in a catwalk. The competition is blind, and judges have no idea which model is attached to which salon.

The accolade was awarded to Barbers of BT45/Barbers of BT80 and Salon 45 after competing in the Northern Ireland regional semi-finals at the Europa Hotel in Belfast. Ten entries from across the province were whittled down to just three, and the judges were so impressed with the barbers efforts that all three positions were awarded to the Mid Ulster outfit.

Owner and lead stylist, Chris Graham has said of the occasion: “We’re absolutely overjoyed by the news that we will be representing Northern Ireland in London. We proved time and time again that talent and vision can thrive outside of the cities, and that Mid Ulster is a haven of inspiring stylists.

“Our stylists Cathal McCormack, Megan Ludlow and Kala Boyle have done an exceptional job at the regional semi-finals and our ambition now is to go to England and take the big prize home with us. Northern Ireland has a rich tradition of innovation when it comes to beauty and style and we want to continue on in that vein.”

The Grand Final of the L’Oréal Colour Trophy will take place on the 3rd of June at Battersea Park in London where Barbers of BT45/Barbers of BT80 and Salon 45 will be competing against other regional winners from across the U.K. including London, the South of England, the East of England, the West of England, the North East, the North West, Scotland, and Wales.



Six by Nico Belfast has today announced its latest theme and it’s set to take you right back to your youth.

In the latest offering, ‘Childhood’, Chef Nico Simeone has created a menu filled with fun, laughter and reminisce; recreating dishes inspired by memories of our childhood, to create an unforgettable dining experience. Guests will be invited to take a trip down memory lane at Six by Nico Belfast, located in the bustling Cathedral Quarter.

The conceptual six-course tasting menu restaurant has already taken the city by storm having only opened its doors a month ago. During launch week in March 2019, there were over 5,000 pre-opening reservations made for ‘The Chippie’ menu, indicating that this novel dining experience was something people in the city where craving. The eagerly anticipated second menu to land in Belfast is set to be a hit as it has previously been a firm favourite at sistering restaurants in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

‘Childhood’s’ new six course tasting menu includes: Mac’n’Cheese – Compressed grape, cauliflower couscous, caper & raisin; Egg & Soldier – Duck egg, Pecorino, Black Garlic Emulsion, Asparagus Salad; Pancakes & Bacon – Pork Belly, Compressed Apple, Chickpea Pancake, Maple Mayonnaise; Fish Finger – Confit Salmon, Kohlrabi, Buttermilk & Dill Dressing; Duck Duck Goose – Duck Beast & Leg Bonbon, Spiced Date, Heritage Carrot; and Cereal milk – Pannacotta, Honey Gelee, Peanut Clusters & Strawberry.

Known for his quirky dishes and original flavour combinations, Chef Nico Simeone’s latest menu, ‘Childhood’ will instantly transport guests back to the memories of their grandmother’s kitchen, their fond school canteen days or their first overseas holiday as a family.Chef Nico Simeone said, “Reliving those fond childhood memories is exactly what we aim to do for all our guests with our ‘Childhood’ tasting menu. There are some foods that no matter how many years have passed, they will embody youth. Almost everyone has childhood memories of family meals, ranging from holiday gatherings to the ordinary breakfasts, packed lunches, and home cooked dinners. We want to evoke those memories and help re-create those reminiscent foods and flavours but in an unforgettable way.”Nico added, “It is fascinating to discover what memories stay with you and when it comes to food, nothing evokes stronger feelings of nostalgia as your childhood.”

Diners can book a table now for ’Childhood’. Open from midday, Tuesday to Sunday at the Belfast restaurant on Waring Street.  Each six-course menu will be available from noon to night. The menu is priced at £28 per person with the option to enjoy an expertly selected wine and specialist drinks pairing for an additional £25. There is a vegetarian alternative available for every course, as well as childhood theme inspired snack sides.

To make a reservation and to book now, visit‘Childhood’ will run from Tuesday 16th April – Sunday May 26th 2019.