How’s it going? Good, good. Listen, there’s something I want to discuss with you. Apparently, some of you were planning to amass at a downtown mall in Toronto for something called a “$5 EATON CENTER APPROACH MARATHON”. The event has since been cancelled due to outrage and common sense – yay for human rights! Because really, events like this demean us all.
The event apparently involved “beasting” which is defined as “approaching [women] continuously and consistently – targeting every approachable set in the vicinity” [italics mine]. It was organized by a Meetup.com group that calls itself Toronto Pick Up Artists (PUAs). (There’s a hyphen missing from there, but bad grammar is the least of their problems.) A bunch of men were going to congregate in the Toronto Eaton Centre and basically harass women who just want to do their Christmas shopping. The Toronto PUAs Meetup.com page has disappeared (sad, because it was so stupid-funny to read) but Toronto Life documented some of the foolishness (albeit in a too-lighthearted way, IMHO, like these guys were some clumsy Pepe le Pews.) Behold:
Since there are so many women in the Eaton Centre you can easily warm up and get yourself into state within 20 minutes. Eaton Centre is therefore a great first stop on your day game iternary. [sic] Do a few approaches there and you can move to other venues which may have less women but better logistics (girls who are stationary).
Okay, guys, listen. This is bullshit. You don’t have to do this. I know that dealing with the opposite sex can be daunting. It happens to women, too, but on top of that add a dollop of insecurity and fears that stem from shit we get fed from lady mags, religion, laws, the entertainment industry—PRETTY MUCH EVERYWHERE. Slut-shaming, “legitimate rape“, normal-sized models who are “plus size”, rape culture (oh, it exists I WILL DEBATE YOU FOR HOURS ON THIS DON’T GET ME STARTED), can’t wear pants because thighs rubbing…
So, I get it. The fear of rejection, of being ridiculed, of feeling not attractive enough – we’ve all been there. For some, self-esteem and confidence comes with age and life experience. For others, it remains a constant struggle. Overcoming insecurity and developing confidence definitely helps with interpersonal relationships. But you don’t get it by joining PUAs or following assholes like this.
Disclosure: I was invited to be part of the planning group for the IABC 2012 Canada Business Communicators Summit by Yasmin Ranade, its Chair and lead organizer. I had the pleasure of working with Yasmin in the Professional Development portfolio for the IABC Toronto chapter in 2010/11. We work well together and I was honoured to be asked to be part of her team. My role involved marketing and social media promotion.
The Summit took place over three days in November, in Ottawa, ON. I registered and attended as an regular conference attendee. Here are my observations.
It used to be that if you wanted to share your organization’s news, you put out a press release and made calls to a few journalists. Now, the arena has grown larger and your potential audiences have not only increased, they’ve changed the way they want to get information. Mobile technology, social media – the opportunities to communicate with your audience have exploded in ways undreamed of twenty years ago.
Working in the communications field requires continuous education if you want to be on top of your game. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a neophyte (I fall somewhere in the middle of that spectrum) there are always going to be things you don’t know, new tools and emerging trends you haven’t heard of.
This was, more or less, the theme of the IABC 2012 Canada Business Communicators Summit – Trends 2013. Held in Ottawa on November 1 to 3, 2012, the Summit focused on where communication is heading and what we should be prepared for on the horizon – mobile computing, changing demographics and new challenges to privacy, transparency and access.
I’ve been to several conferences in the past few years, and I would see the same names pop up on the speaker roster time and time again. The line-up for the Summit was unique and a great change from the usual. Canadian speakers, discussing Canadian content for Canadian communicators! Any challenges communicators have in Canada may be similar to those in the U.S. or Europe, but we’re playing in a different ballpark, with a different set of rules. For example, having Jennifer Stoddart, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, talk to us about privacy laws made more of an impact than having a speaker come in from outside the country to speak on the same topic.
The keynote speakers were not only highly esteemed in their fields, their talks were tailored to the overall theme of the conference.
The Honourable Tony Clement on “Politicking in the Age of Social Media”: I follow Mr. Clement on Twitter, and even though I may not agree with his politics, I find his tweets interesting and funny (he makes jokes about zombies!). Having a politician speak about using Twitter as a very public platform was insightful, especially the way to blend the political and the personal (it’s challenging but possible).
Jennifer Stoddart on “Privacy and Communications in Changing Times”: A highly informative presentation on privacy laws in Canada, the challenges of following them in an online world and what we, as communicators, should keep front-of-mind when crafting strategies.
Dr. Michael Geist on “The Year the Internet Fought Back”: Great background on the Stop Online Privacy Act and how Internet users are mobilizing and speaking out against the encroachment on online privacy, free speech and access to information.
Darrell Bricker, CEO, Ipsos Global Public Affairs, on “The Big Shift – Understanding Communications in the New Canada”: A fun and informative way to look at the changing demographics of Canada. (Read some of my tweets for interesting tidbits from this and other moments from the conference.)
The sessions I attended were, for the most part, strong. These are the ones that stood out for me. (Keep in mind that I only attended a few of the many that were offered – go here for the full listing of sessions and speakers.)
Donna Papacosta, “Quick and Painless Ways to Add Multimedia to Your Communications”: The best session, by far, in terms of both content and context. Donna went through the latest in social media tools and provided examples of how they can be used. Highly informative, with many examples.
Anick Losier, “Communicating During Times of Crisis”: Ms. Losier is the Director of Media Relations for Canada Post. I loved her presentation for its forthrightness, transparency and case studies. She has a wonderful attitude and sense of humour, despite holding what must be one of the most challenging jobs in the field.
Peter Vaz (M2 Universal Digital) and Kunal Gupta (Polar Mobile), “The Impact of the Third Screen on Communications”: Interesting presentation on mobile communications from . With almost every person on the planet carrying a smartphone, every organization will eventually have to include the “third screen” in their marketing and communication plans.
Panel, “Content in Context and the Content Marketing Revolution”: This session stood out for me, but not for the reasons I expected. There was too much content, and not enough context (i.e. case studies). And, disappointingly, the session felt like a not-so-subtle pitch for a social media company (which shall remain nameless), which is anathema to me – I came to learn, not to buy.
The Silver Leaf Awards recognize the outstanding achievements of IABC members in communications. The Awards Gala, typically held on an evening during the conference, felt like an inside joke that the rest of us weren’t privy to. What made it more uncomfortable was the technically illegal use of copyrighted material in the video which instead could’ve been used to highlight the winners of the Silver Leaf. As a communicator, I wanted to know: what was it about their entries that raised them above the others? I could do without the Mad Men parody.
A large and important part of attending a conference is the networking. I met many people and shared many thoughts and ideas. The conference had great social activities, including a Haunted Walk – which is a fantastic way to see a city and get a taste of its history – and a Dine-Around, where you have dinner with other attendees and a local restaurant. (I opted for Vittoria Trattoria,where the food and atmosphere were wonderful.)
More observations on the conference from other attendees can be found here.
As for Ottawa, I wish I had more time to explore the city, but I did manage to take in a few sights. I don’t think I have enough information to write a comprehensive post. Instead, enjoy my photos.
If it’s not obvious to you, the subtext of the ad is that Belvedere Vodka goes down smoothly, unlike some women who have to be tackled and forced to “go down” on smirking douchebags. (In my vivid imagination, she bites off his penis and, while stuffing it down his own throat, cackles, “Is THAT going down smoothly enough for ya?”)
(On a side note: There are some who argue that the ad isn’t “rape-y” at all. They say the ad is talking about the guy; it’s his approach to wooing the women that isn’t going down smoothly. Right, so the woman in the ad is reacting in horror because his pick-up lines are too cheesy? For God’s sake, LOOK AT THE PHOTO. It looks as if she’s just realized that all her fears about being raped are about to come true. Even without the tagline, the whole scenario screams “rape”. If you still don’t see it, I suggest you jump off the highest bridge you can find, because you are too dumb to exist.)
I’m not an expert in advertising, but I do know there is a vetting process when it comes to this stuff. You do not launch an advertising campaign without sign-off from the top. Which means that Belvedere Vodka and its ad agency thought this was okay. Someone thought that making a funny about rape is just the ticket to sell vodka. But when the shit hit the fan, it was time to save face.
So Charles Gibb, the president of Belvedere Vodka, has apologized. How nice. How fucking fantastic. Call me cynical, but this is how I read the statement (my interpretations are in red):
I would like to personally apologize for the offensive post that recently appeared on our Facebook page. [Oops.] It should never have happened. [We thought it was hilarious until y’all freaked out.] I am currently investigating the matter to determine how this happened and to be sure it never does so again. [We’re looking for a patsy to take the fall.] The content is contrary to our values and we deeply regret this lapse. [As in, we value your money, so if you’re pissed, we’ll regret anything.] As an expression of our regret over this matter we have made a donation to RAINN (America’s largest anti-sexual violence organization) [There, we made nice. Now leave us alone, okay?].
Yeah, that apology doesn’t go down smoothly with me.
Life sometimes throws you curve balls, but lately I feel like I’m a batter in a baseball game from hell. Work and volunteer commitments, not to mention lousy February and Smarch weather, have made me feel exhausted, lethargic and crummy all over.
Let’s face it – we all go through ruts. Well, this one is happily coming to an end. Spring is here, and that means trees are beginning to bloom and my (creative) juices are flowing. But I do admit to feeling a sense of shame and embarrassment when I realized that my last blog post was in January. Wow, has time gone by that quickly?
I’ve always been a procrastinator. My time in high school and university was marked by late nights, fueled by coffee and music, working on essays and assignments that were due the next day. I always did well, but I sometimes wonder if I would’ve done amazingly well if I had given myself enough time.
I put things off for a number of reasons: fear of not being able to do what I’m supposed to do (which is highly irrational, I know, since I’ve proven to myself time and time again that I can do anything I set my mind to); laziness; distractions (TV is both my lover and my enemy); and the creative burst I get when the clock is ticking and deadlines are looming. I can’t explain it, but I sometimes do my best work when I’m under the gun.
Other times, I wait for the inspiration to strike. Like now – it’s 11:30 on a Sunday morning, and I’m writing this post while my breakfast cools.
But this has to change. I keep this blog for a reason – to expound on life, love and the pursuit of happiness (which is a big change from what it was normally intended to be – a way to showcase my mad PR skills while I was in school). It’s not going to write itself. I could blame Twitter for taking up most of my time, but that wouldn’t be completely true. I’m just a blogcrastinator.
So, I’m already working on my next post – something food-related – so please don’t give up on me. Better late than never, right?