Posts Tagged ‘public relations’

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.


Kudos to Maple Leaf Foods


Since tak­ing the CC+PR pro­gram, I am more aware of the way or­ga­ni­za­tions re­act when faced with a cri­sis. After the Sunrise Propane de­ba­cle, it’s re­fresh­ing to see a com­pany get it right.

Maple Leaf Foods should be pat­ted on the back for prac­tic­ing great PR af­ter the lis­te­rio­sis outbreak. If this isn’t a text­book ex­am­ple of good cri­sis com­mu­ni­ca­tions, I don’t know what is. They have been open and com­mu­nica­tive with their stake­hold­ers — cus­tomers, in­vestors, me­dia - from the be­gin­ning. They have co­op­er­ated with gov­ern­ment agen­cies. They have reached out to their au­di­ences in any way pos­si­ble: full-page ads in news­pa­pers; news re­leases; an­a­lyst con­fer­ence calls; their web­site; and so­cial me­dia (see clip be­low). As a re­sult, I have yet to come across any neg­a­tive feed­back in the me­dia or the blogosphere.

The re­call will cost them ap­prox­i­mately $20 mil­lion in losses. But main­tain­ing the public’s trust in their brand and rep­u­ta­tion will be worth much more in the long run.



Can’t get no sat­is­fac­tion? Try this.


Get Satisfaction bills it­self as a “di­rect con­nec­tion be­tween peo­ple and com­pa­nies that fos­ters problem-solving, pro­motes shar­ing, and builds up re­la­tion­ships.

Get Satisfaction was cre­ated as a place where cus­tomers and com­pa­nies can come to­gether to an­swer each oth­ers’ ques­tions: ques­tions about ship­ping, pric­ing, ful­fill­ment, the prod­uct it­self, and myr­iad other de­tails. By putting all of these con­ver­sa­tions in one place — and hold­ing noth­ing back — we’ve cre­ated a new way to not just han­dle cus­tomer ser­vice, but to ex­plore all the things we col­lec­tively love and hate about our fa­vorite prod­ucts and ser­vices, and the com­pa­nies that of­fer them. [Italics mine]

This hits all the cor­ner­stones of what good pub­lic re­la­tions are built on – re­la­tion­ships, con­ver­sa­tions, con­nec­tions. Sites like Get Satisfaction fa­cil­i­tate dis­cus­sion be­tween an or­ga­ni­za­tion and its publics. Where brand mes­sag­ing once flowed top-down, it is now a two-way discussion.

While most cor­po­ra­tions are wary of be­ing trans­par­ent, it is only a mat­ter of time be­fore trans­parency is thrust on them (if it hasn’t hap­pened al­ready). We are liv­ing in a time where con­ver­sa­tions are hap­pen­ing about com­pa­nies – doesn’t it make prac­ti­cal busi­ness sense for them to lis­ten, join in and learn from their customers?

Some al­ready do; it is not sur­pris­ing that the first ones on the band­wagon are or­ga­ni­za­tions op­er­at­ing in the so­cial me­dia space. Twitter, along with PBWiki and Seesmic, is just one of the com­pa­nies who “get it.” Twitter has 10 of­fi­cial rep­re­sen­ta­tives (in­clud­ing their chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer) and four em­ploy­ees “lis­ten­ing and par­tic­i­pat­ing.” Their pro­files also in­clude other ways to reach them: their blogs, Twitter or per­sonal websites.

Questions and prob­lems ap­pear to be an­swered rea­son­ably quickly. If they aren’t, the void is filled in by other users. So, not only are sites like Get Satisfaction fos­ter­ing dis­cus­sion be­tween com­pa­nies and their cus­tomers, com­mu­ni­ties of users are be­ing formed as well. Got a prob­lem? Chances are good that some­one will help you. If this doesn’t make you feel in­cluded, I don’t know what would.

(Side note: There have been heated dis­cus­sions on Get Satisfaction and other sites about a prob­lem posted by Ariel Waldman (“Twitter re­fuses to up­hold Terms of Service”). Twitter’s reps were en­gaged with Waldman from the be­gin­ning. Whether their de­ci­sion was right is de­bat­able and the sub­ject of an­other forum.)

The other com­pany I am fol­low­ing is Dell. Not that there’s much to fol­low. The com­pany has no of­fi­cial rep­re­sen­ta­tives. This is ironic since Dell has worked very hard to re­pair the dam­age their cus­tomer ser­vice suf­fered a few years back (any­body re­mem­ber DellHell?).

That isn’t to say they aren’t re­spon­sive; a prob­lem posted ear­lier this month was com­mented on by a Dell com­mu­nity li­ai­son for laptops:

My name is Bill Bivin, and I work at Dell. I am the Community Liaison for lap­tops. Has any­one at Dell yet re­solved this for you?

Why isn’t Bivin an of­fi­cial rep­re­sen­ta­tive? Why hasn’t Dell “spon­sored, en­dorsed, or joined the con­ver­sa­tion yet[?]”

Overall, the site is easy to nav­i­gate. Not only was I able to sign up within min­utes, I have even posted a few replies. (I dare any­body not to throw their two cents in on the Waldman is­sue af­ter read­ing all the posts.) Get Satisfaction also has po­ten­tial for other uses. For ex­am­ple, Twitter uses the site to up­date its users on shut­downs or other tech­ni­cal dif­fi­cul­ties. How about open­ing it up to not-for-profits, pro­fes­sional as­so­ci­a­tions or gov­ern­ment or­ga­ni­za­tions? Can you imag­ine post­ing a prob­lem about your garbage pickup or prop­erty taxes and hav­ing a city coun­sel­lor respond?

Get Satisfaction rep­re­sents a new kind of cus­tomer ser­vice – in­ter­ac­tive and dy­namic – that gives a pow­er­ful voice to consumers.

The peo­ple have spo­ken. And they ex­pect to be lis­tened to.

Update: Dell now has a rep­re­sen­ta­tive up on Get Satisfaction. (It’s a start.) Did I have any­thing to do with it? I’d like to think I played a small part.


My first week of school, or How I learned to stop wor­ry­ing and love the blog


It is the end of the first week of school and I have sur­vived. No wed­gies, no Uggs, no sea of lap­tops in class.

The fears I laid out in my first post were all for naught. The ben­e­fit of a post-grad win­ter pro­gram is the va­ri­ety of peo­ple en­rolled in it. There are a few stu­dents fresh out of their un­der­grad term at uni­ver­sity but the ma­jor­ity, like me, came from the work­force. We all bring dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives to the ta­ble and there has al­ready been a good ex­change of ideas and opin­ions. The size of our class (31) also al­lows for a feel­ing of close­ness and sol­i­dar­ity — we even started our own Facebook group!

The funny thing is, we take the same classes to­gether. Coupled with the fact that our cam­pus served as Degrassi High, at times it feels like I’m back in high school. (I think my locker is near Joey Jeremiah’s but I haven’t been able to con­firm it.) And like high school, the cafe­te­ria food leaves a lot to be de­sired. Thankfully, the Danforth is just a 10-minute walk away.

I have an ad­van­tage over most of my fel­low stu­dents when it comes to cor­po­rate com­mu­ni­ca­tions and P.R. But I’ve dis­cov­ered there is a lot more I need to learn. Like how to write, for ex­am­ple. As I men­tioned in my first post, it has been a long time since I wrote any­thing be­yond a client pro­posal or an e-mail. Back then, I had a ten­dency to­ward the ver­bose and the the­saurus was my bible. Since there is no de­mand for 2,000-word news re­leases, I will strive to learn the seven C’s of good writ­ing: clear, con­cise, cor­rect, co­her­ent, com­plete, con­sis­tent and cre­ative. The CP Style Guide will be­come my new bible.

Another tid­bit I picked up was how to read news­pa­pers. I mean, REALLY read news­pa­pers. I sub­scribe to the Toronto Star and read it re­li­giously every morn­ing. But I tend to skim over most of the ar­ti­cles, read­ing only the first two and last para­graphs to get the gist of the ar­ti­cle. But af­ter my first Media Relations class I be­gan to an­a­lyze the pa­per and no­ticed some­thing: Every jour­nal­ist has a bias. It tends to be ob­vi­ous and ex­pected with colum­nists like Rosie DiManno of the Star and Margaret Wente of The Globe and Mail. But the bias of other re­porters tends to creep in “hard” news sto­ries. For ex­am­ple, take this ar­ti­cle in last Thursday’s National Post:

’09 Afghan pull­out too soon, ex­perts say

It is al­ready too late for Canada to with­draw from com­bat in south­ern Afghanistan when the mis­sion ex­pires in 2009, mil­i­tary an­a­lysts said yesterday.

The fed­eral Liberal party made a sub­mis­sion this week to the panel study­ing Canada’s fu­ture role in Afghanistan, headed by for­mer fi­nance min­is­ter John Manley.

In it, the party in­sisted Ottawa should for­mally no­tify NATO now of Canada’s in­ten­tion to end its com­bat mis­sion in Kandahar next year, con­tend­ing it would be a “trav­esty” if the mis­sion con­tin­ued be­yond February, 2009.

But ex­perts warned yes­ter­day that there is not enough time to safely re­place the 2,500 Canadian troops in the re­gion with sol­diers from other NATO countries.

This “news” item is about a sub­mis­sion the fed­eral Liberals made to a panel study­ing Canada’s role in Afghanistan. The Post re­porter chose to fo­cus on the opin­ion of “ex­perts” who be­lieve it is too soon to with­draw our troops. This jibes with the Conservative government’s view that Canada’s should keep its troops in Afghanistan un­til progress is made, no mat­ter how long it takes. And we all know how “right” the Post is.

Now take a look at how the Toronto Star re­ported on the same item:

‘Travesty’ to ex­tend com­bat role: Liberals

Canada should re­main com­mit­ted to Afghanistan but the cur­rent com­bat mis­sion in Kandahar must end in just over a year, fed­eral Liberals say.

Canada should in­stead look at other roles for the mil­i­tary, such as train­ing the Afghan National Army and po­lice, pro­tect­ing Afghan civil­ians or lead­ing re­con­struc­tion ef­forts, the party said in a pa­per re­leased yesterday.

We be­lieve Canada and the rest of the world have an oblig­a­tion to the peo­ple of Afghanistan,” the Liberal party says in its sub­mis­sion to the fed­eral panel now study­ing the fu­ture of Canada’s Afghan mission.

And in a news re­lease ac­com­pa­ny­ing the doc­u­ment, Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion said he’s open to “other pos­si­ble mil­i­tary roles in Afghanistan.”

But the party says it would be a “trav­esty” to con­tinue the cur­rent mil­i­tary role in Kandahar un­der the guise of a “train­ing mission.”

Instead, the Liberals say, the Conservatives must im­me­di­ately in­form NATO that Canada will end its Kandahar mis­sion in February 2009, adding that as long as al­lies be­lieve the mis­sion is “open-ended, they will never pre­pare for our departure.”

The Star fo­cused on the view­point of the Liberals, who want an early with­drawl of our troops. This isn’t sur­pris­ing, given the Star’s leftist/Liberal lean­ings. The point I am try­ing to make is this: there is no real ob­jec­tiv­ity in the me­dia. While this is hardly new in­for­ma­tion it has made me think of how ob­vi­ous it is and how it doesn’t mat­ter any­more. With the tech­nol­ogy avail­able to us, we have ac­cess to raw in­for­ma­tion and can ar­rive at our own con­clu­sions in­stead of hav­ing it spoon-fed to us. We can also draw from a huge pool of opin­ions re­gard­ing the lat­est is­sues and de­cide which ones ap­peal to us. (For the record, I like mine with a lit­tle satire and Jon Stewart’s snarky, sexy grin.)

In the early term of George W. Bush’s pres­i­dency, the tra­di­tional me­dia was shame­less in their un­wa­ver­ing, hy­per­pa­tri­otic sup­port of the war in Iraq (“Bush Lies, Media Swallows”, Eric Alterman, The Nation). The dearth of cov­er­age on any op­pos­ing view­points and the grow­ing savvy of the pub­lic (or more so the left-leaning in­tel­li­gentsia) has led to the rise of cit­i­zen jour­nal­ism (or “new me­dia” as some call it).

It would neg­li­gent for me as a fu­ture com­mu­ni­ca­tor to ig­nore this. If the role of pub­lic re­la­tions is to “…es­tab­lish and main­tain mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial re­la­tion­ships be­tween an or­ga­ni­za­tion and the var­i­ous publics on whom its suc­cess or fail­ure de­pend” (Center and Broom, Effective Public Relations), then giv­ing lit­tle cre­dence to the “new me­dia” would be invit­ing dis­as­ter. There are nu­mer­ous ex­am­ples of how the “lit­tle guy” brought down “the man” (or an­chor­man, in Dan Rather’s case) and it’s not go­ing to end, folks. All of which leads me to be­lieve that when Time named their 2006 Person of the Year as you, they con­firmed what we all know: opin­ions are like a – holes — everyone’s got one. And they will blog about it. And the world will notice.

Jon Stewart


Welcome to my blog.


bon mot [bon moh; Fr. bawn moh] a witty re­mark or com­ment; clever say­ing; witticism.

Why, hello there. Thanks for drop­ping by. This is my first foray into the ex­cit­ing world of so­cial me­dia. Oooh, my ex­trem­i­ties are al­ready tin­gling. You must have many ques­tions for me, such as “What do you have to say that is so im­por­tant?” or “What do you have to say that isn’t be­ing said by mil­lions of other blog­gers?” or “What are you wear­ing?” Good ques­tions. My an­swer? Probably not much. (Har har.) But since I am ad­vanc­ing my ca­reer in the com­mu­ni­ca­tions and p.r. in­dus­try it is on good ad­vice from ex­perts that I start a blog as a form of per­sonal ad­ver­tise­ment. Thus, I will blog.

A lit­tle about me: click on the About tab. It’s pretty much all there.

So, what can I add? Well, my mother cer­tainly thinks I’m bril­liant (smart woman, she is) and my friends tell me I’m funny (lean­ing heav­ily on the “ha ha” sort rather than the “weird” so that’s a good sign) so I’m hop­ing to bring a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive on life and its per­ver­si­ties. But I think my “an­gle” will fo­cus on the fact that I am re­turn­ing to school. What’s the big deal about that? Well, let me tell you why it’s a big deal:

  • I’m in my late thir­ties and just gave up a full-time job with four weeks va­ca­tion, an ex­pense ac­count and health benefits.
  • The last time I com­posed an es­say it was done on a type­writer. An elec­tric one, mind you, but there is no Spellcheck on type­writ­ers. Actually, that is not true — I did com­pose an es­say on a com­puter. In Word Perfect, DOS ver­sion.
  • I have a fear I may be­come Jerri Blank from Strangers with Candy, try­ing to fit into a world she long es­caped from. Will my low-rise jeans be low enough? Should I buy the pink or baby blue Uggs? Is my crush on Zac Efron so, like, over (yes, I know he is half my age and prob­a­bly gay, so shut up) or should I be pin­ning mag­a­zine clip­pings of the Gossip Girl cast to my locker?

I’m kid­ding, of course (well, mostly kid­ding). But you get my drift — I am in for a com­pletely dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence than the one I have been liv­ing for the past 15 years in the work­force. It will be a fun and ex­cit­ing time for me and I hope to re­gale you with tales from the (school) front. But mostly I would like to share my per­spec­tive on com­mu­ni­ca­tions and pub­lic re­la­tions from some­one who has been in the in­dus­try for the past nine years on the other (darker) side. Coming from CNW (the nation’s leader in– oops! Sorry, I some­times for­get I don’t work there any­more) I have been ex­posed to the needs of the com­mu­ni­ca­tor and the me­dia. Will this give me a head start? Here’s hoping.

Which leads me to an­other rea­son to blog: so­cial me­dia is new me­dia and ac­quir­ing mem­ber­ship in the web and blog com­mu­nity puts you far ahead of the rest. For those naysay­ers (and there are some in the in­dus­try, be­lieve me) here’s a cool fact: There are now one mil­lion users on Facebook from Toronto alone (The Toronto Star, Jan. 2/08); we are the first North American city to achieve this goal.

I have sev­eral friends who post news and in­for­ma­tion on their pro­file — in other words, there Facebook pro­file is their blog. There are oth­ers who get their news and in­for­ma­tion from the web. (When is the last time you used a map in­stead of Google Maps, Mapquest or GPS? I thought so.) The 2008 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion will be run pretty much through YouTube and can­di­date blogs. (Of course, I pre­fer get­ting my news on U.S. pol­i­tics with a side of cyn­i­cism (I miss you, The Daily Show) but I di­gress. Today’s jour­nal­ists are not only writ­ing for the print and elec­tronic ver­sions of their pa­pers but are pro­duc­ing video con­tent as well. Information is be­com­ing more ac­ces­si­ble than it was be­fore. This means there are new ways to com­mu­ni­cate out­side of the stan­dard news re­lease and press con­fer­ence and the web is the new place to look.

The web is also the new soap­box. Bloggers are peo­ple who have some­thing to say and a pow­er­ful tool with which to shout it from the moun­tain­tops. Case in point: Dell Hell (Jeff Jarvis vs. Dell: Blogger’s Complaint Becomes Viral Nightmare”, Online Media Daily, August 2005) and other p.r. hor­ror sto­ries. As a fu­ture com­mu­ni­ca­tor, I would be do­ing a dis­ser­vice to my­self and my fu­ture em­ploy­ers by not be­ing aware of so­cial media.

I can go on and on but my point is this: the web is not go­ing away; it is get­ting stronger and more in­flu­en­tial; and those who have em­braced it will reap the re­wards. Kind of like com­pos­ing an es­say on a lap­top ver­sus a typewriter.

Stay tuned for more…

Jerri Blank