Archive of ‘Communicating’ category

Calling All “Casanovas”


Hey guys.

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.



Three Days in Ottawa (or Things I Learned at the IABC 2012 Communicators Summit)


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.


How (not) to get ahead in advertising


Once in a while you get a brand that wants to stand out, and that means be­ing “edgy”, “bold” or “dar­ing”. But in the pur­suit of style over sub­stance, some things can go wrong. Horribly wrong.

Case in point:


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.

Source: AdFreak, Jezebel​.com


Junk Email of the Day — Mister Softee Edition


Monday, April 19:

I know what has hap­pened to your sex­ual life. This cruel dis­as­ter is called impotence.

Um, I think the Chinese, Haitians and Chileans would dis­agree with what you con­sider a ‘disaster’.

Bonus email!

Sexual im­po­tence in men is one of the most poorly ex­plored med­ical impairments.

Yes, there are only three med­ica­tions for this on the mar­ket. Why stop there? I say we di­vert funds from can­cer re­search to ex­plore this ‘impairment’.


My name is Bonnie and I am a Blogcrastinator


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?

In the mean­time, check out this won­der­ful blog post, “5 Warning Signs You Might Be a Blogcrastinator”. If you’re go­ing through the same thing as I am, it will hope­fully in­spire you as well.


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