COM0015 – Blog #4: Out of the Box

In 2017 and beyond, online marketing and social media professionals and users can expect the unexpected!

 

With social media ever-evolving and changing, trends are consistently changing minute by minute, day by day; social media users have the world in the palm of their hand – only if you live in an uncensored country that allows you do this.

 

As a marketing professional, it is fun to see businesses engaging in positive interaction with its followers/customers. Carter Wilkinson tweeted at Wendy’s, asking how many retweets to obtain chicken nuggets for life. Wendy’s replied – 18 million retweets. Challenge accepted! A new viral sensation emerged with Carter, along with supporters and celebrities helping out the cause. Carter managed to set a new record of retweets, surpassing Ellen’s 2014 Oscar selfie.

 

In the age of burns, clapbacks, and shade, Wendy’s is also setting a precedent by roasting their competition and Twitter users with brutally honest replies tweeting back at its original tweets. Check out Bored Panda’s article for a good chuckle.

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Wendy’s has succeeded at establishing a clear online presence by maintaining an admirable level of sass, their unapologetic Twitter responses are on their way to leading the pack and is short of becoming a legend. What companies in July 2017 and beyond will challenge Wendy’s?

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COM0015 – Blog #3: Professional Networking Now and in the Future

I am in a unique position from my fellow classmates/colleagues. In pursuit of the elusive work versus life balance, I decided to take a break from working full-time to be at home with my daughters. After working part time contracts, and still currently fulfilling a contract until September, I have a lot of unknowns come in September when my littlest will be in school full time.

I will be entering the workforce – hopefully in a full time permanent position, however I don’t know when I will be hired or by whom. It’s a weird concept that’s for sure.

Taking classes in social media to add to my resume and hopefully make me more marketable to a variety of employers, while enhancing my background as a PR and marketing professional does have me pondering the networking aspect of my career. My contact list is being utilized by my former team and since I have no idea where I’ll be, I can’t really rely on that as I am hoping to not have to go back to a 48 hour work week, traveling to various towns and cities.

In early August, when my job hunt starts, I will be not only utilizing a professional service to help me with redeveloping my CV, I will also be looking to get my feet wet with virtual meetings for entry level professionals. I have the experience and background of a seasoned vet of PR but my gap on my resume from regular employment have me realistically planning for entry level workshops and/or employment opportunities.

Not to beat a dead horse but as I do have a gap in my work experience, I am reluctant to join my professional networking organizations as to join as a member is not in my current budget. Fingers crossed September’s transition goes smoothly for not only me in the work force but my family at home.

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COM0015 – Blog #1 Tools and Sources

As a part-time contractor working in social media metrics and as a student of the Social Media certificate program, I have utilized a variety of monitoring tools. Some of the tools were meh or just okay, others were better but the ultimate best one that I have used is Sysomos. Before you decide to check out Sysomos, you have to have a BIG budget. Thanks to my contracting work, my employer pays for the access that I have, therefore I never pay the bill, but I have seen the invoice – think of the cost of a small bathroom or kitchen reno and that is the cost for the year. For that much money, the tool does in fact monitor everything and anything thanks to some advanced Boolean queries. I am not going to lie but it is an overwhelming tool that takes practice to use but once you have the hang of it, Bob’s your uncle.

 

I have also dabbled with a few other tools and can recommend Hootsuite and Google Alerts. Each tool gave me a partial piece of the puzzle while Sysomos gave me the whole picture. You really can’t compare free or budget friendly tools to an expensive search engine.

 

When I am not working part-time, I am also a full-time mom to two young girls (4 and 7 this month). My time is split between shuttling kids to their activities, maintaining the household, and homework (mine and my first grader’s – ha). My social media time for personal usage is dramatically less than my social media usage for work. I am hardly active on my personal social media pages preferring to scan and creep with an occasional post here and there. During my scan and creep times, I do look over the trending headlines on both Twitter and Facebook but leave myself some research time to legitimize the sources and stories. I also find time flies by when I peruse the many posts of Huffington Post or Buzzfeed.

 

At the rate that new information is released into the social media stratosphere it is no surprise that an blog I came across lists 20 tools that I had never even heard of until I read this article. In order to be successful in the social media monitoring world, you really do need to brush up on the ever changing technology that is social media. I have some homework to do tonight.

COM0014 – Blog #7 – Personal Reflection

Verbally telling a story has always been easy for me. I time myself well, I can capture people’s attention, and I don’t miss a beat. The same can’t be said for writing. It takes me so much longer! Before I started my career as a PR practitioner and a marketer, I was continually writing, editing, over and over and sometimes my story takes on a new direction that wasn’t originally intended. Over time I had honed my writing – it took time for me to get there. But that’s okay.

 

I learned that simple is so much better. I can be too wordy. This class re-taught me on how to focus on specific tidbits of information and disseminate using the appropriate tools and mechanisms.

 

I want to leave an impression in my stories. I want to leave people wanting more. I think any prospective writer wants that. Blogging gave me a chance to connect with a group but also maintain a semblance of privacy. It is a genuine social media catch-22.

 

As my career path is up for a change in the coming months (September I am looking at you), I can honestly say I feel better suited to the challenge. I can’t say I am looking forward to the interviews that I will be partaking in but on paper and in my head, I am confident in my new path.

COM0014-W17, Blog #5: My brand

My background is public relations/marketing; as a professional, from the time, I step out into the work world, my personality, smile, conversation, how I conduct myself at work will be my brand. In the field of public relations, reputation is everything.

It’s also important to me that I maintain a neutral to positive presence on social media. Rarely do I share a video or a news piece before verifying the authenticity of the material shared. How am I to be perceived as trustworthy if I share fake news? Forbes wrote a branding article almost three years that is still relevant about building a ‘awesome brand.’ Most of the tips/tricks I had already been practicing just unaware that it was my brand. As I have further delved into the course material of Algonquin’s Social Media certificate program, I realized that I’ve been fine tuning my brand all along as my experience grows especially in a professional capacity.

One of my characteristics that I feel strongly is my #1 in both personal and professional lives is my trustworthiness. Not to toot my own horn but I am an awesome listener and secret keeper! Luckily, I have never been put in the position where I felt the need to escalate action (authorities, management, etc.) outside of my conversation with my colleague. Followed by my trustworthiness my team regularly tells me that they value my directness as I can be relied to give honest feedback while being tactful.

“A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well,” Jeff Bezos (CEO, Founder, Chairman of Amazon.com)

COM0014-W17 Blog# 4 case study – Mabel’s Labels

Mabel’s Labels is a Canadian business and success story. In 2003 Mabel’s Labels was started by four moms in a basement creating durable labels for the items that kids so easily lose. The company designs, creates, and sells these labels in a crazy amount of sizes that are guaranteed to last going through the dishwasher, washer, and dryer. We have plenty of labels in our household for the boatload of stuff leaving the house to go to school and various care programs that makes it easy for us to identify what is ours. We have labels on our backpacks, lunch kits, jackets, boots/shoes, water bottles, I could go on and on about the fabulousness that is Mabel’s Labels :).

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credit: Facebook @ Mabel’s Labels

 

The social media team at Mabel’s is incredibly interactive with its followers and customers. Recently, it was Justin Timberlake’s birthday and so the morning of Justin’s birthday Mabel’s posted a fun challenge for its followers, for the customers who typed JT’s name within their online order via the comments box, they would receive a special gift. What is also worth noting is that many of the customers who didn’t see the birthday post were lamenting on the fact they missed out; the staff at Mabel’s stepped right up and commented within minutes that not to worry, we’ll look for your order and add the surprise as they had mentioned JT within the post. Super fun engagement on behalf of the social media team at Mabel’s.

 

Not only are there random fun posts with surprises for customers, they also have polls sporadically all related to kids in some way (asking followers how they chose their child’s name; asking for your favourite holiday traditions with your children; etc.). And within their social media community, there is also a blog with topics that every parent can relate to.

 

Kudos to the social media team at Mabel’s Labels for their positive interactions with their customers by creating a friend-like atmosphere within their social media platforms.

Love is in the air

With Valentine’s Day approaching I thought it would be interesting to consider a genre of books that I enjoy on a regular basis – romance novels. I kept it generic enough as there are so many sub genres within the broad scope of romance novels. Who knew!? My personal tastes run to romantic suspense and/or romantic fiction – almost all my books that I enjoy have the HEA (happily ever after). Corny I know but I confess that I adore the fairy tale. Anyhow I digress, just searching ‘romance authors’ alone results in thousands of suggestions within seconds of hitting enter. Who other than me are reading romance novels? Huffington Post published an article a couple of years ago, breaking down the romance novel audience with myths and facts of who makes up the audience of the romance novel genre.

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The audience in question has valuable interactive forums at their fingertips with goodreads, Romance Divas, and Amazon just to name the top three popular sites for lovers of the genre to find their next author to binge read.

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The Ottawa Public Library has thousands of romance books in all subgenres in both traditional and e-book formats and within the OPL’s site; you can be a part of the community by sharing your reviews of the books and authors searched.

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As of right now there is no Romance Writers of Canada however our southern neighbours have a comprehensive site at Romance Writers of America otherwise known as RWA, they too have broken down their target audience. I think what surprised me most about their statistics is that 16% of romance readers are male. Clearly everyone needs a little romance in their life whether they are lucky enough to find it in person or through the pages of a well-written book ❤

Storytelling and communication styles

In my past life, I wore many hats working in public relations and marketing for a retail corporate office. My role and responsibilities had really evolved over time however one area I consistently had a hand in was our corporate newsletter. This newsletter reached all staff within two corporate offices, three warehouses and over 200 stores across Canada. The newsletter celebrated milestones both professional and personal, extended sad news, shared tips and tricks, recipes, etc. But most importantly celebrated each store’s grand opening with a play by play of their grand opening weekend that usually included a summary of the weekend’s sales, customer turnout, a list of thank yous, and several pictures to accompany their story.

 

Receiving content was generally easy enough, most of the owners and managers would supply their contributions well within the deadlines however their stories needed a lot of editing to make it readable and easy to understand or even translate for our French speaking/reading staff members. Or you have the opposite side of the spectrum where the submission was a plain paragraph that lacked pizazz to make the reader interested in the story.

 

Most of my colleagues had gone to post-secondary for business or another similar minded field that didn’t focus on how to write a story.

 

If I could have, I would have sent each manager a link to Five Tips for Better Business Writing or Harvard Business Review’s How to Improve Your Business Writing as these articles hit all the key points without intimidating a newbie writer. And of course, I can’t stress enough about taking time in proofing spelling and grammar!

 

At the end of the day we are all on the same team with a common message – to make lots of money but also to celebrate each other’s achievements. There is no better way to do other then highlight in a newsletter of their perfect grand opening and I felt a part of their grand opening by effectively communicating their message to the audience.

My vacation

 

Truthfully, I haven’t traveled with my kids on an airplane. My youngest is incredibly headstrong and difficult, and the thought of going on a plane with her makes me cringe.

My husband took a contract in the spring of 2015 with a hectic travel schedule and minimal time off. In fact other than weekends and occasional long weekends thanks to a holiday, he has not taken vacation time. Fast forward to summer of 2016 and with him working long hours traveling, I thought I’ll take the girls on a road trip to Barrie, Muskoka, and Toronto solo. I had taken them on a similar road trip the summer before with great success.

Here are my tips to surviving a road trip with young kids:

  1. Upgrade your hotel room to a suite if your budget allows for this. The extra space along with kitchen amenities really saved our behinds.
  1. Book a hotel with breakfast included. Our meal expenses for this trip were significantly less as I had one less meal to pay for per day we were traveling.
  1. Book a hotel with a pool – godsend!
  1. Because we had a full size fridge in our room, I was able to cut down on dining expenses by prepping sandwiches and snacks in the room that kept in the fridge until we’d leave which we’d put our lunch/snacks in a cooler with ice from the ice machine at the hotel.
  1. Accept that our regular routine would go wonky. The less I stressed about how quickly they were going to bed, the more relaxed we all were.
  1. For the drive I chose the scenic route as the girls were busily occupied with movies, games and books, the pretty scenery kept me refreshed versus the boring 401 route. Another plus side to taking the scenic route with pretty towns, lots of parks! We stop a few times to stretch our legs and I let the girls get their energy out by hitting the play structures and splash pads.
  1. Because bathroom accidents can happen – hasn’t happened yet but just in case and also I let the girls get soaked at the splash pads, I always have a bag of spare clothes and towels in the car ready to go.
  1. Before we left I hit up a Dollarama and made little surprise activity bins. Again if your budget allows for it, I think it is worth it! I spent under $50 for two activity bins packed with puzzles, games, colouring materials, books, magazines. While it was $50 out of my wallet, the bins did keep them busy for hours in the car. We not only had the travel to get to our hotel but also our daily excursions to neighboring towns and cities to visit family and our activities.
  1. As we have a portable DVD player for our car, I made sure to hit up the library for some DVDs that we didn’t currently own to ensure the selection was kept fresh and I didn’t lose my mind listening to the movie’s dialogue. There is only so many times you can listen to Frozen! And it was also important that the girls took turns selecting the movie. I can’t make them agree on a mutual title to watch so I have them take turns. Key is to remember whose choice was last so no one is slighted :).
  1. And finally, when I selected the hotel, of course price and amenities were important to me but I also made sure there was a full service park not far from the hotel. So when the girls are getting antsy in the room, or even before a long drive as the girls are regularly up EARLY, we would hit the park. The park not only had plenty of new and cool play structures that Ottawa’s parks didn’t have, there was a skateboard park so they could gawk at boarders doing their thing, a splash pad, and a bathroom all within a short walk in the park.

What are your travel tricks when hitting the road?

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Simple pleasures

My children have nightmares on occasion, it has become routine in our household is as we say our goodnights, we rhyme off good things that make us happy to keep the night terrors at bay. It had me thinking, what are some of the pleasures whether they be simple or guilty that I enjoy. So in no particular order, this is my list of good things that I enjoy:

Netflix

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Our kids go to bed early enough – before 8 o’clock and my husband frequently works late. During the day I am at home with my youngest, so a lot of my daily chores are done by late afternoon. So, come 8 o’clock, Mama has Netflix queued up. I especially enjoy emotional, campy, and smart TV shows. I rarely watch movies on Netflix as TV shows are perfect for keeping my interest for 45 minutes at a time.

Some of my guilty pleasures that I’ve streamed via Netflix are: Nashville, Vampire Diaries, Pretty Little Liars, Switched at Birth, Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, The Fosters, Homeland, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, and I am currently hooked onto Quantico. I have an embarrassing amount of shows bookmarked in ‘My List’.

Is it just me or are TV shows getting better and better? I haven’t been a teenager in at least fifteen years, yet half of my guilty pleasures on Netflix are teen shows.

 

Icy cold beer

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I very much enjoy an import tall boy while watching some of my TV shows. Beer just about goes with anything in my opinion!

 

Glee music

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I adored Glee while it aired. I laughed, I cried and I sang along with the characters. Even though the show has ended over a year and a half ago, I still play Glee covers while I am cooking, doing my own schoolwork, cleaning and often in the car.

 

Spa visits

Every six months or so I enjoy a facial at a local spa. I enjoy the whole process from the start to the finish.

More frequently than I get facials, I get pedicures. Bright/flashy polish colours while getting my tootsies pampered? Yes please! My girls enjoy coming with me and my esthetician always gives them their own special pampering for their toes.

Reading

                                                                         

I read every day, mostly before bed. I enjoy heartfelt emotional stories, murder mysteries, suspense, and dabble in horror on occasion. But my guilty pleasure is… trashy romance novels. These books can hook you easily and they make for an easy read. Now I am not talking about the 50 Shades of Grey series; the books I read are somewhat similar but are better written and the books don’t take themselves too seriously.

Red velvet cupcakes

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This decadent treat is one of my favourite treats to have on occasion. I am not a huge chocolate lover so this cupcake’s hint of chocolate paired with cream cheese icing is perfection, it goes nicely with a hot cup of tea.

Date Night

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Hubby and I were great at getting out for a date night once a month but life has a way of intervening. With my husband’s busy work schedule which includes travel, our date nights haven’t been happening as frequently as we’d like. Fingers crossed, we get a new date night routine in place. I love nights where I don’t have to cook!

Newborn/baby photography

I follow several local (and area) photographers on Facebook just so I can gaze at brand new squishy babies. I get my baby fever cooled down and I don’t have to get up in the middle of the night with the bambino. Win win! Equally fun for me is to look at baby’s first smiles as they start growing and their first birthday with a messy cake smash.

 

What are some of your guilty pleasures?

–Colleen