COM 0015 Assignment 5: Event Participation

Event

I participated in the Secrets of Great Communicators – Session 2: Mind Your Mobile Manners! How To Increase Your Electronic Communication Competence webinar, hosted by the Canadian Management Centre. I chose this professional development webinar because a significant amount of my time in my paid work is spent communicating via email and text messages, internally and with external audiences. I thought it would be prudent to assess my current practices and brush up on my skills. I was unable to attend an in-person networking event.

Interaction

Because I was unable to attend an in-person networking event, I looked online for webinars related to my career as director of communications for an Inuit organization in Nunavut. I had difficulty locating anything of interest, so I posed the questions to my Facebook network. I used an informal tone because I used my personal Facebook account. Three suggestions provided valuable leads. I chose the Canadian Management Centre. Several of the free webinars were of interest, but in the end, I chose the electronic communications topic because of the amount of time I spend sending and reading email and text messages.

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Because I attended the webinar at home alone, my interaction was confined to the presenter, Lew Bayer. I learned a great deal from Bayer and will correct some of my email and text message practices that may have been perceived as lazy or unprofessional.

5

Because I participated in a recording of the webinar and not the original event, I was unable to contribute to the event. However, I sent the link to the video to the chief operating officer of the organization I work for and requested that she distribute it to all staff to improve the email and text message practices across the organization.

Things Learned

I believe the tone I previously used to communicate in some email may have been perceived as terse or lazy. My intent was to be brief, but I believe this might have been misinterpreted. I also learned that email should begin with important words about the task or direction required and that social niceties should be confined to the end of the email. Bayer said that because of short attention spans, the first 7-10 words at the beginning and end of an email are most remembered by readers. She said to refrain from beginning an email using the pronoun I because it conveys the idea that the email is about you personally. Bayer said emoticons are not generally accepted for use in business email because the can be misinterpreted. Bayer also said not to use business salutations like miss or mister because gender references are antiquated and no longer acceptable.

I will incorporate Bayer’s ideas into my business email practices immediately. One of her statements stood out: “Friendly is good, but familiar is not…Talking about personal health, personal money issues, marital status and even complimenting someone on their attire is considered to be too familiar these days. In a business context, we want to comment always on competency and productivity related issues and leave the personal commentary for a break or after hours situations.”

Next Steps

I plan to attend more free webinars hosted by the Canadian Management Centre. They are relevant to my work, efficient in terms of time and content, and free of charge.

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COM0015 – Blog 4 – Out of the Box (and Into the Oven)

For the last five courses in Algonquin College’s Social Media program, we’ve studied how to use online marketing and social media in our professional and private lives and networks. We’ve written plans and strategies and studied how to best reach our target audiences. I’ve combined my past experience with my newfound skills in my paid work, in my volunteer work and to some degree, in my personal life. But never in my wildest dreams did I expect the Mamaqtuq Nanook Cooking Club to become so popular because of the reach of social media.

I started the club because I wanted to give other kids access to the same cooking skills I had been teaching my son since his birth.

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My son’s school was receptive to the idea. I sought and found funding and launched the program. Three years later, volunteers are calling us to come and teach cooking lessons, offering up donations and services, and talking about our program on Facebook and Twitter.

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I’ve received an award for the club, been invited to sit on panels, been interviewed by academics and media organizations, and been approached repeatedly for advice to set up similar clubs in other communities. Our cooking club kids were invited to give flowers to Prince Charles and Lady Camilla and most recently, we’ve been asked to write a cookbook/how-to cooking club manual. Without the reach of Facebook and Twitter, this would not have been possible.

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Sure, I knew that Facebook and Twitter would help me keep parents informed and would help get the word out about our program, but the way the program was embraced by the community caught me off guard. I was confident that my hard work and creativity would see the club through its inception and carry it along for a few years, but I was completely unprepared for the unexpected success that now requires me to remain committed to it for the foreseeable future.

So now what? I’m on sabbatical this year for health reasons, which gives me a year to write the cookbook and plan out the strategy for the evolution of the club. I’ve been approached by a parent who wishes to continue the club in my absence and while I’m happy to have that happen, I need to be careful about how the club moves forward. One thing is certain: I will continue to embrace the power and reach of social media to continue the conversation about the Mamaqtuq Nanook Cooking Club.

 

COM0015 – Blog 3: Building a Cooking Club’s Reputation

I am currently on hiatus from my professional and volunteer work. During this time, I plan to further develop and refine a strategy for the Mamaqtuq Nanook Cooking Club’s professional network online and in person.

The cooking club is a volunteer program I run at my son’s school in Apex, Nunavut. We meet once a week on Fridays after school. During our two hours together, we prepare and cook a meal, write out the recipe, participate in physical fitness, often listen to a guest speaker and we eat. We all go home with full bellies, more literate than before, and with new skills.

Since I started the club four years ago, I have built a reputation of a dynamic and free after school program that benefits the children and families in our small community. I have developed this reputation through a strong online presence and in person.

In terms of the online network, I have used the Nanook School/Apex DEA Facebook page and Twitter account to broadcast our story and weekly successes. I have also used my own personal social media accounts as well as community social media pages to communicate our success with our target audiences. This has grabbed the attention of my local media network. Cooking club has been regularly featured in traditional and social media in Nunavut.

I have used this success with my online network to develop my personal network, as it relates to the cooking club. I have attended panels and awards presentations and met with various food-related professionals to discuss things like food security, careers, funding and community service. During the current hiatus, I am writing a cookbook and a how-to cooking club manual. I need to refine my online and in person network prior to the launch of the cookbook.

The first step I need to take is to separate the Mamaqtuq Nanook Cooking Club Facebook page and Twitter account from the Nanook School/Apex DEA Facebook page. The cooking club needs its own online independent presence. Our social media presence is very important because it is followed by parents, media, funders, food security workers and community activists. I have worked tirelessly to build our reputation and it deserves its own social media presence.

The second step I need to take is to develop my participation in food-related territorial and national programs. I need to further enhance my reputation as a worker in the food security movement in Nunavut and in Canada. I need to locate new funding sources and I need to spread the story of our success more widely. Over the next year, I plan to find and join between 5-10 new territorial/national organizations that support food security in Nunavut or Indigenous communities. I need to join their boards or become a member of their organizations. I need to make sure that Mamaqtuq Nanook Cooking Club is a part of any organization that is making a splash in Nunavut or Canada in work related to poverty, food security or skill development in children.

Once this step is complete, I need to share this accomplishment via the club’s social media pages. I need to get our social media friends to like and share our posts and share testimonials about how the program has positively impacted their child and family. I need to resurrect the blog I started for the cooking club and link the blog to the new Facebook and Twitter accounts. I need for this heightened activity and the reason for it to be picked up by local media.

All this needs to be completed prior to the launch of the cookbook to ensure the book sells well. Once a launch date is selected, a full communications and social media plan for the launch will be developed and implemented. One thing is for sure, there will be great food at the launch, all prepared by the cooking club kids.

 

COM 0015 Blog Post 2: Strong and Weak Organizations

Strong Organization

 

First Air is a Northern-based airline company that I believe is doing an excellent job of using social media to its advantage. First Air uses Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to draw followers and customers to their social media platforms.

 

Their most recent campaign is particularly intriguing. To commemorate their 71st year in business, First Air has counted down to an announcement scheduled for tomorrow (Oct. 12) at 1 pm. Knowing readers have a very short attention span when it comes to social media hype, the campaign began counting down five days ahead of the announcement with a cryptic yet alluring photo and caption of, “71 years in the making.” Day 4 noted that, “An important day in First Air’s history is coming.” Day 3 proclaimed, “A sense of pride and connection with the Arctic; Day 2, “It’s time,” and Day 1, “Join us tomorrow at 12:00pm (est) for a special Facebook live event!” Public speculation via social media was rampant, with most people hoping for a massive seat sale or an announcement that would lower prices more permanently.

 

As someone with enough business and social media savvy under my belt to assume the announcement will be important, but not earth-shattering, I still plan to tune into the Facebook live event to see what they’re doing. I an curious as a customer and as a communications professional working in Nunavut, which I think means they’ve done a very good job of executing their campaign. All three of their social media platforms delivered the message about the countdown and the Facebook live event. Their messages were short, but interesting, and left us wanting more. The ads were also visually pleasing: the watermarked images used in the background of the ads were a mix of beautiful Arctic scenery and historical aviation photos.

 

The only aspect of the campaign that I would suggest was lacking was that it was not mirrored on their website. Had they consulted me, I would have strongly advised them to make all social media ads click through to their website to an even more thrilling teaser announcement leading up to the Facebook live event.

 

It’s also great to see a Northern company using Facebook live to make an announcement. Although many of their customers will have difficulty watching the live event because of our shoddy Internet services, we can all rest assured the announcement will receive heavy press and will not go unreported.

 

Outside of this campaign, First Air does a decent job of tugging at its followers and customers heart-strings during Home for the Holidays sales. They excel at instilling a sense of pride in our Northern locale, and they’re very good at interacting with their consumers by hosting contests for artwork to decorate the body and wings of their aircraft.

 

Weak Organization

 

During this course, I am focusing on Nunavut News/North for my social media strategy. Nunavut News/North has a long history and powerful reputation in the North. For more than seven decades, the company has been publishing newspapers in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. For about the last ten years, the company’s website has been protected by a paywall, meaning that readers had to subscribe to the website to read online versions of the news. This was arguably an astute business decision, but regardless, readers were still unable to read breaking news in Nunavut News/North because whether it was in print or online, the news was only available on a weekly basis.

 

This changed in recent months and the company has started a test website where it publishes news more frequently and as it breaks. The company is also posting the news articles more frequently on its social media platforms. This was a good business decision and one that will allow the company to become more competitive editorially speaking. I would advise Nunavut News/North to ensure it also releases breaking news via social media and not simply focus on less time sensitive feature stories. It is important in the news business to convince readers of one’s relevance in the industry.

 

With this new reputation developing as a social media player, Nunavut News/North may also be primed to take a larger piece of the social media advertising pie. Like all newspapers in the last five years, Nunavut News/North has likely felt a decline in their print advertising revenue, and digital ads are not filling the coffers. Industry experts indicate that social media advertising in the rise, however. I would suggest that Nunavut News/North focus efforts on developing their social media strategy to ensure it is cutting edge, making the company more attractive to agencies and organizations looking to maximize their social media advertising dollars. Their social media strategy must also include an advertising strategy.

COM0015 – Blog 1: Good Old Facebook

My two favourite listening and monitoring tools are Facebook Insights and Feedly. I like Insights because it provides me with new and constant information about the activities of our target audiences, or at least the ones who are using Facebook, including what devices they are using to access out Facebook page, where they are located, age, sex, when they are accessing our page, etc. This is valuable because it allows us to know who we are reaching, but more importantly, we know who we are not reaching and that’s where we develop future plans. For example, we know youth are not accessing our site, although they are on Facebook, so we are designing initiatives to bring youth over. As we move more into using other social media sites, this may change, but for now, given the overwhelming popularity of Facebook over all other social media platforms in Nunavut, it makes most sense to use Facebook Insights. I like Feedly because it allows me to easily monitor all of my keyword searches for a variety of different organizations and issues in one place. I prefer these tools over others because they are simple and very easy to use. They provide me with exactly what I need. Why over-complicate it if I don’t need to?

The two sources of news updates that I prefer are Facebook and Twitter. Most news and politics concerning Nunavut are discussed on Facebook and Twitter: traditional media organizations and journalists heavily engage with these two social media platforms. More and more, journalists and communications professionals are live Tweeting events or going live on Facebook. Often, I’ll see an issue mentioned or a link to a news article on Facebook or Twitter and then I’ll do further research on it using Google. Again, while it may sound repetitive or lazy, these two sites provide me with the most accurate news updates about issues that are important to my work.

COM0014 Blog # 7 – Personal Reflection

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For the last 24 years, I have been trying to entice readers to get past the first sentence, the first paragraph, through the entire article, news release or children’s book. Digital Communications has reinforced the importance of telling strong and interesting personal stories to achieve this goal.

No matter what the topic or issue is, or what message I am trying to convey, there are people impacted by it or involved in it somewhere along the way. If I can focus on those people and get readers to identify with them, my story will be more widely read and therefore, more effective. This will deliver the message to a wider audience, making the content more successful. Unless we tell exceptional stories that matters to people and get them to read beyond the first 10 words, they’ll never get to the heart of the content or message and the opportunity is lost.

This course has reinforced for me that it is important to create a story that makes people personally and emotionally care about what we are trying to say. If you’re lucky, after you’ve convinced people enough times that what you’re writing about is relevant, perhaps even important, you might be fortunate enough to develop a personal or corporate brand as a writer who has something to say. This is my goal: to show the people in my community that I write genuine content and real stories about the people and the issues around me.

 

COM0014 Blog # 6 – Do People Know Your Story?

What is your favorite customer story?

My favourite customer story is about Karen, a Grade 1 student who joined Mamaqtuq Nanook Cooking Club last September. I always start the year off with a pizza lesson because it’s a fantastic ice-breaker and almost all kids love to make and eat pizza.

We start the year off by setting ground rules. Karen’s shyness shone like a beacon even during the group discussion. It amplified after we’d washed our hands and gathered at our prep tables. Karen seemed to shrink in size as we went over the steps of pizza preparation, as if she was trying to disappear under the small tables. When I approached Karen, she looked down at her shoes and did not raise her head again, no matter how hard I tried.

I was worried Karen wouldn’t show up to the next class, but she lined up on Friday. I was overjoyed. We made tacos that day, and during the explanation, she managed to look at me a few times. Fleeting eye contact was a major step in the right direction.

As the weeks progressed, Karen gained confidence and began to interact more. She started to laugh and smile and became more comfortable preparing food and eating it. Her mother even sent me a message telling me how much fun she said she was having.

This might seem like a silly story, but it illustrates how our club is reaching kids and teaching them to prepare healthy food. Regardless of previous skill, our kids learn to feed themselves healthy food in a fun environment. When Karen graduates from Grade 5 and leaves our school for new adventures, she will be armed with recipes and skills. That is success.

COM0014 Blog # 5 – Personal Brand

I am a mother who talks the talk and walks the walk. Case-in-point: I wanted children in my community to have access to the same cooking lessons that I provided for my son. I planned to offer these in my home, but when my son started school, I saw the existing kitchen and lobby space and knew it was a perfect fit with a captive audience. Bingo! I approached the school principal, found funding, and launched the program. Instead of letting a great idea wilt on the sidelines, I made it happen. This is what separates me from my competitors: I don’t shy away from hard work or long hours and I do it on a volunteer basis.

Called the Mamaqtuq Nanook Cooking Club, the program has developed a solid reputation of success in just three years. We’ve had ample traditional and social media coverage, and were recently selected to present Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla with flowers. It means the world to me that my club was selected to be part of an official international event. I’ve also recently been offered a book deal to produce a cookbook.

If you were to ask my colleagues what my best trait is they would likely say I am resilient and don’t let obstacles stop me. I always find a way around the hurdles.

I’ve accomplished many things in my lifetime, but I am most proud of the things I have done since becoming a mother. My son fills me with ambition and drive: everything I do is for him. The programs I run, the books I write, the money I earn, the trips we take: everything is meant to provide him with the skills he needs to become a loving, successful person.

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COM0014 Blog # 4 – B2C Case Study

My case study involves Iqaluit musicians, The Jerry Cans/Pai Gaalaqautikkut. A self-described Inuktitut alt-country, throat singing, and reggae band that started in 2008, The Jerry Cans heavily engage with their audience online. For the purposes of this analysis, I will focus on their Facebook interactions.

The Jerry Cans are skilled marketers who use their Facebook page to connect with their local fanbase and to build an international following. They broadcast worldwide performances, tour schedules, merchandise, and profile and celebrate various aspects of Inuit culture. They have 10,710 page likes, 10,626 followers, and their numbers are growing steadily. They regularly host like and share Facebook contests to give away merchandise, Inuit food or tickets to their events. They respond to Facebook messages within the hour, which is very important when growing a brand; have links to their website giving fans an easy route to purchase albums and merchandise; highlight the work of Indigenous performers; and regularly post pictures with their Inuit and non-Inuit fans around the world.

Perhaps most importantly, The Jerry Cans are popular cultural ambassadors who spread positive messages about Inuit culture. Recently, there were highly publicized violent incidents in Nunavik (Northern Quebec). Following performances in those communities, The Jerry Cans posted a heartfelt note on Facebook about the beauty, kindness and generosity they encountered while performing. As a business, The Jerry Cans used their social media clout to combat negative perceptions, which is very important to their consumers.

Check them out today on Facebook at The Jerry Cans / Pai Gaalaqautikkut. You’ll have a lot of fun following an entertaining band that is part of a dynamic social media movement working to create a positive dialogue about Inuit. And you can buy their music and hoodies while you’re at it.

 

COM0014 – Blog 3: Target Audiences

At work, we have increased our Facebook audience through various communications initiatives to reach a wider target audience with key messages. Because of Facebook Insights’ thorough date collection, we know who we are reaching and how we are reaching them. We also know who we are not reaching as well as we’d like to: youth.

Reaching youth in Nunavut with relevant messages is very important. Demographically, youth in Nunavut are predominantly Inuit, some from traditional families, some from modern families, some from a mix of both, many of which are blended. Many youth are in high school, some have chosen to leave school. Youth are active in sports, are hunters, participate in cultural performances. Some youth are employed, others hang out at youth centres or participate in youth councils. Some youth are not participating in many activities at all. We will conduct focus groups and surveys to get a clearer picture of the psychographics of Inuit youth so that our initiatives are relevant and inline with their values.

The goal is to reach this diverse target audience with current messages that instill hope, empowerment and resilience. We will test our initiatives to ensure they reflect regional and community realities. We will use Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat and look at other online sites where Inuit youth are hanging out. And most of all, we need to have Inuit youth at the table when we are drafting these messages to ensure they are relevant.

There is a growing musical movement among Inuit youth that is documenting struggles and empowering youth to be proud. Young performers are successfully reaching their target audiences by posting their new music online at Facebook, SoundCloud and YouTube. We plan to host an audio/video song contest for youth to produce music that provides uplifting messages.