Development & Alumni Relations Office 


12 October 2017

The John O’Connor Writing School is to provide tutors to Queen’s University for a two-day course aimed at helping commercialise English as taught at the University, in an initiative to be piloted this autumn.

The concept created by Queen’s English lecturer Dr Darran McCann, public relations consultant Joris Minne and John O’Connor Writing School director Cathy McCullough, is a two-day course featuring skills in commercial blogging, writing advertising copy, creating web content and creating press releases.

The commercial writing course will be taught by leaders in their field including:

  • Michael O’Neill, senior copywriter at leading Irish advertising agency AV Brown,
  • Political and cultural commentator Alan Meban who is the voice behind the Alan in Belfast blog and contributes to Slugger O’Toole
  • Sean McKeown head of digital content at award winning PR agency Jcomms and former manager of digital marketing at Randox
  • Jonny McCambridge, author, writer and former deputy editor and news editor of the Belfast Telegraph.

Darran McCann says the course is being trialled by the University to assess its value to English undergraduate students as well as students of other subjects and disciplines.

“Arts degrees provide a depth of education and knowledge which benefits graduates not just as stepping stones to successful careers but as the fundamental foundations of common sense, perspective and judgement,” says Dr McCann.

“The practical and deployable skills that students learn in degrees like those in literature, languages, history and across the humanities are sometimes not immediately acknowledged by employers, so we want to experiment with ideas from some the various industries our graduates are a natural fit for. These are areas which place a premium on the skills and talents our students possess in abundance – language, communication, perspective and judgement.

The course is part of the annual John O’Connor Writing School, a three-day event based in Armagh and which this year features tutors and lecturers including novelist Louis De Bernieres, poet Lemn Sissay and acclaimed critic and writer Robert McCrum.

Cathy McCullough, director of the School says John O’Connor was a simple man with a huge talent.

“Writers are all around us and better still, so are readers!” says Ms McCullough. “The inaugural John O’Connor Writing School opened last November and we featured a commercial writing course among the song writing, screen writing, poetry and drama so we are delighted to join Queen’s University in this innovative event.”

Places on the commercial writing course will be open to graduates, the public as well as to students from Queen’s.

For more information go to

Media contact: Joris Minne, tel: +44 (0)28 9521 8383 or 07876 218978.


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