COM0015 Blog4  Out of the Box

COM0015 Blog4 Out of the Box

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Our Love/Hate relationship with Facebook

There’s no doubt about it, Facebook is huge.  With 2.7 billion monthly active users worldwide and being the third most visited site after Google and YouTube, this platform is indeed engrained in our culture.  With their popularity, is it any wonder that Facebook, Instagram, and Facebook Messenger occupy 3 of the top 10 positions on the Apple App Store?  Ad sales is Facebook’s primary source of revenue, posting a total revenue of $18.7 billion in Q2, a growth of 10% year-over-year.

Can anyone take down this Goliath?

Recently there’s been a movement to ‘delete Facebook’ with more than 1,000 groups staging boycotts this summer. With questions regarding security of our personal information, external interference in elections, the spreading of hate speech and misinformation, and the mountains of ads and paid content that gums up your news feed, people are getting fed up with the platform. 

Enter MeWe.

MeWe refers to themselves as the ‘anti-Facebook’ allowing users to control their data, newsfeeds and privacy.   The platform now has 9 million users worldwide and has zero paid marketing ads.  Do you remember what Facebook and Instagram looked like before all the commercial content?

With the basic social media platform free and no ad revenue, one may wonder how MeWe makes money?  They do this by offering paid add-ons including extra storage, custom group profiles, live voice and video calling, business pages and journals.  But are consumers willing to pay for the freedom of choice?

Ask cable television and satellite service providers?  Consumers fed up with channel bundling (i.e. paying for channels they don’t watch) are opting for streaming services such as Netflix and Prime Video.  But services are protecting their content including Disney+ and Peacock, so now one must subscribe to multiple streaming platforms to have the same access to the content they want to watch (and most likely a lot of content that they don’t watch).

The big question is, ‘Are you willing to pay extra for privacy, or will you accept exposure of your personal information to save a few bucks?’

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COM0015 Professional Networking (Assignment 5)

COM0015 Professional Networking (Assignment 5)

Second Degree Connections

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I must admit that this assignment stressed me a bit.  The idea of attending an event, making small talk, and schmoozing made me uncomfortable.  But I was determined to give it my best shot, so with introvert thoughts aside I went looking for a networking event. However, with COVID-19 restrictions and everyone practicing social distancing, there wasn’t much to choose from.  

I was considering a virtual employment fair which had online exhibitor booths, employer panel discussions and webinars, but after looking at the speakers list this event didn’t fit my needs.   There were other webinars coming up which were better suited for my industry, but many wanted me to pay to register for the week-long virtual event.

An opportunity came up to attend a small committee meeting in-person for the Routes to Roots Film Festival, so I took this as an opportunity to practice networking skills.  I researched the attendees and made a list of speaking/conversation notes.  Most were retired teachers, so I knew enough to stay away from topics dealing with class sizes or Education Minister Stephen Lecce.   I arrived early to get the lay of the land and picked a good spot (near the front, but still in eye contact with everyone).  Some networking events might have food or drinks provided, I suggest you eat daintily – – there’s nothing worse than talking to someone after just popping a large cheese puff into your mouth and trying to discreetly chew – – a great way to make a unflattering first impression.

“A Slow Burn”

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The phrase ‘slow burn’ was used at the meeting to describe the committee’s strategy this year, changing from a one-time event with a blast of promotions to a multi-part event staggered throughout the year.  I suppose I would characterize my networking style as a ‘slow burn,’ opting to create value that people will want (i.e. a pull strategy) rather than asserting my value on them (a push strategy).  Push is like selling.  Pull is like marketing.  Either strategy is good, it depends on which you are most comfortable with.

I wouldn’t classify the attendees as those who could advance my career, however the names discussed in this meeting, i.e. second-degree connections, may be who I need to network with. It’s amazing how some teachers still connect with their students, even long after they left Highschool.  Long story short, I’m now volunteering and giving my time and expertise to this committee with my sights set on connecting and networking with filmmakers and other content creators. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

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COM0015 Blog 3 Professional Networking

COM0015 Blog 3 Professional Networking

Desperately Seeking Support for Network Building

The idea of ‘networking’ makes extroverts gleam and introverts scream.  Schmoozing and ‘working the room’ may be natural behaviours for some, but for others it can often be an overwhelming and underproductive experience.  However, if done effectively, networking can expand your sphere of influence and build your personal brand.  For those desperately seeking support, here’s some tips that I have learned over the years:

Know Yourself

Professional networking is more about giving than receiving, so determine your strengths and be prepared to share this knowledge and experience with others.  Think about your brand and what makes you a superstar. If you talk about something that you are passionate about, you will come across sincerely and naturally. 

Do Your Research

Whether it’s a virtual or in-person networking event, research the participants ahead of time.  Make a list of who you may like to connect with and think about how your strengths, knowledge and experiences may be of assistance to them.

The Meet and Greet

Some can dive right in and start a conversation with strangers, while others may need a bit of coaching.  Scan nametags for people on your research list or look for businesses or organizations that you feel comfortable conversing about.  If a large event sounds too daunting, invite a networking buddy, but be sure to branch off and meet new people.   Think quality connections, not quantity.

Network Everywhere

Don’t just save your networking skills for formal business events, look for opportunities at team meetings and social functions.  Make a pact with yourself to share and offer your skills and experiences with a co-worker and/or meet someone new.  

Keep in Touch

Professional networking is more than just meeting people, it’s about making meaningful connections. You might keep in touch over coffee or at other business functions, but with COVID-19 restrictions, we’ll all need to rely on phone calls, email, and social media for the next 6 – 12 months.  If you are uncomfortable chatting on the phone or writing emails, you can easily re-connect by commenting on one of their posts or send them a link to an article that you think would interest them.  Again, quality connections, not quantity.

By giving your time, offering your insight, and sharing knowledge, your network will naturally reciprocate by preaching your value to others thus increasing your brand reputation.  Keep the faith.

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COM0015 Blog 2 – Does Bigger Mean Better?

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Does increasing your social media posts directly relate to the success of your business? Let’s focus on two non-profit organizations which share similar beginnings but have taken slightly different paths, not only in their services but also in their social media.   Both are celebrating over 50 years of operation, both have recently hired communication/marketing positions and both began as Community Residential Facilities (CRFs or half-way houses) providing support and supervision for individuals making the transition from correctional facilities to the community.  Similar starts, similar services, but different social media strategies.

St. Leonard’s Community Services in Brantford is more open and transparent online than their counterpart in London.  Brantford expanded in the late 90s to offer a Career Resource Centre for Youth and opened Employment Centres in Caledonia and Dunnville in the past decade.  Their mission is to provide programs and services in Addictions and Mental Health, Housing, Justice, and Employment.  They are fairly active on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. A recent Facebook post promoting a Virtual Job Fair had a large number of Likes, Comments and Shares.  SLCS was quick to reply to the comments and offer additional information as needed.  The timing for this event couldn’t be better as so many people have lost their jobs due to COVID-19 restrictions and/or closures. This post was shared by job seekers, community partners and over 40 regional companies.  Most of SLCS’s feeds are filled with job skill workshops, education and support groups.  Over 95% of this content is original. Video content is a great way to advertise your business and SLCS capitalizes on this by sharing YouTube videos of their virtual AGM (262 views), and workshops on Conflict Resolution (51 views) and Job Searching During a Pandemic (159 views).   Even though they provide justice programs like bail verification, supportive interventions, and transitional housing, this information is rarely promoted or mentioned in their social media feed.

On the flip side, St. Leonard’s Community Services for London focuses primarily on justice programs for adults and youth who are, or could be, in conflict with the law.  On social media, Twitter is their primary communication tool, however they post much less often than Brantford.  Original content accounts for only 50% of their posts, opting to share news articles and updates from similar organizations regularly.  St. Leonard’s London has historically kept a low profile on social media but are now looking to build up their presence to increase awareness and understanding for their programs and services. Understandably they want to respect the privacy of the individuals that they serve, but could look for opportunities to feature their staff and community supporters. To maximize their efforts, this content should be visually appealing, utilizing photos or videos and can be presented in such a way to protect privacy.  Of course, promotion is a double-edge sword and organizers need to be prepared for the NIMBY Syndrome (Not in my back yard) and the misperceptions that CRFs increase crime and lower property values.  This can be countered with open and honest conversations with neighbourhoods, community leaders, corrections experts, and individuals.  Perhaps we all need to understand how the correctional process works and the steps being taken to create communities, where everyone feels safe, valued, and supported. 

Both organizations are successful and offer valuable, much-needed services to their communities. Does more social media posts make one organization stronger than the other?  Does bigger mean better?

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Com0014: Blog#7: Recipe for Success: Blog Plating 101

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Just like a chef, bloggers need to prepare and present content that looks so appealing that it will entice the customer to consume it. Throughout this course, I have found many similarities between the culinary and literary worlds, so much so that it has left me hungry to develop this easy-to-follow recipe:  Blog Plating 101

Step 1: Know your audience

Who is going to be consuming this?  Audiences can be diverse – – different generations, backgrounds, interests and tastes.  Write with the audience in mind, not yourself. What is their experience level?  What type of appetite do they have for jargon and terminology? 

Step 2: Create a Framework

Pick a main idea (or ingredient), do your research and build a framework by listing the most important information first as many do not read past the first few sentences.  Be sure to include interesting tidbits and a cue for engagement.  Be clear and concise and format the material so it’s easy to digest. 

Step 3: Make it Appealing

People connect with people and their stories rather than encyclopedias and lists of information.  Titles should be tempting and support images eye-catching. You can even sauce it up with your own humour but don’t overpower your main topic.  Garnish with your own style.

Step 4: Taste Testing

Test everything before it goes out the publishing door.  Personally, I utilize speech programs and listen to the content being read aloud  – – Did that passage make sense?  Is punctuation needed to make it flow more smoothly?  My goal is to create content that will inform and engage, not sour the reader’s taste buds.

Everything on the blog plate should serve a purpose and be a literary expression of one’s many flavours.  

Comment below with your own ‘secret ingredient’ for blogging (and try to keep it within the ‘culinary’ theme).

COM0014-Blog#6: Knowing Me, Knowing You

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I was asked if there was one thing about my childhood that has shaped me for this moment?  My answer is “NO!”  There is no one thing that has prepared me – – it is been everything!

Every person I met, every classmate I spoke to, every game I played

Every interaction has led to this moment in life.  Each emotion and experience prepare us for the future; the good, the bad, the joys and the sorrows.  Many owe much of this preparation to their parents, their family and closest friends, but it’s the minor relationships which are often overlooked, yet still play a key role in one’s development.  

My music teacher was one of the coolest adults I ever knew – – supportive, even-tempered, and funny as heck.  He’d let me and my friends spend free period in the music room, which became our little ‘sanctuary’ from the trials and tribulations known as ‘high school’.   His approachable, understanding, and genuine demeanor was truly inspiring and is what I try to model in my own life and career (although I haven’t had the same amount of success with it yet).

Teachers may feel that they are not connecting with students.  Although this could be true for some, rest assure that you are influencing many of them.  Students will remember your compassion and encouragement, perhaps buried deep in their subconscious, but they will remember you.  What do you want to be remembered for?  

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COM0014-Blog#5: Very Personal Brand

Approximately 80% of online content is video

With the increasing demand of video on social media, employers need skilled content creators to produce engaging, quality material. What I bring is over 25 years of story-telling experience, knowledge, and skill development, but it’s my passion and professionalism that really sets me apart from others.

“Creative, organized, compassionate multi-tasker” Direct Report

I have extensive experience in television production, including producing, directing, scriptwriting and editing, in both studio and remote environments.  I have supervised a staff of 12, along with overseeing a volunteer program which included co-operative education and intern placements.

“Demonstrated unwavering dedication and commitment” Direct Supervisor

I collaborated with numerous community groups creating a wide range of programming genres, from News and sports to entertainment and lifestyle. Some highlights include:

  • Developed a marketing plan increasing engagement and product awareness for 3 consecutive years
  • Coordinated a cross-media telethon raising $200K above original goal
  • Produced and scripted 1800+ episodes of a newsmagazine program

Recently, I have upgraded my graphic creation skills for both Adobe InDesign and Illustrator, and am currently working towards certification in social media, with courses in Monitoring and Measurement and Digital Communication.

“Her upbeat, positive attitude is motivating” Co-worker

Professionalism shines in both my work ethic and product delivery.  I take great pride in what I have accomplished over the years, the people I have worked with, and the impact I have made in their lives. I enjoy helping people tell their stories and achieve their goals.  In fact, I’m passionate about it. 

COM0014-Blog#4: Secret Ingredient for B2C Success

Many businesses have an online presence, but those that successfully engage with customers know the importance of utilizing social media to build these relationships.  Take M&M Food Market for example.  This Business-to-Consumer (B2C) company does an excellent job of promoting their products online, listening and interacting with its clientele, all while keeping that “Buy Now” button up front and centre.

The secret ingredient?

Food porn. Glistening BBQ-glazed spareribs, sizzling garlic-buttered shrimp, sinful chocolate eclairs, each with a mouth-watering product description and with one simple click you are at their order site.  In fact, the food looks so enticing, one cannot resist the urge to comment…and M&M Food Market is listening.

Is food sustainability important to you?  How do you think your homemade lemon bars would compare? M&M Food Market’s interaction with consumers online demonstrate that they truly empathize with people, and those relatively simple comments can go a long way in retaining and maintaining customer loyalty. 

It’s also important to know when to step into online conversations to answer questions or manage crisis before they escalate.  It’s always best to respond in a way to let the public know that you are indeed listening. 

“U got my business”

One of my favourite examples is from Instagram. M&M Meat Shops did an excellent job of ‘reading the mood’ of a customer by his negative comment. Their response was short but humorous.  The customer laughed. This interaction retained his loyalty.

Example of customer retention interaction (Source: mmfoodmarket Instagram)

M&M Food Market have been in business for 40 years providing easy-to-prepare frozen foods, personalized customer service and convenient shopping environment.  As consumer buying routines are changing, so are M&M Food Markets with re-designed store layouts, updated packaging, no artificial colours, flavours or sweeteners and are also offering gluten-free options.

 Think you know M&M Food Market?  Think again.

Watch this video to find out how they are changing to fit your needs (Source: M&M Food Market)

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COM0014-Blog#3: Targeting the Survivalist

COM0014-Blog#3: Targeting the Survivalist

Woman stockpiling toilet paper (Image courtesy Rick Barbero/The Register-Herald)

We all remember the images of shoppers flooding to stores, grabbing everything in sight and leaving the shelves bare.  But not everyone contributed to this ‘panic buying’ – – a few were already prepared.

Always Be Ready

Survivalists, or preppers, are people who actively prepare for emergencies, by acquiring medical and self-defense training, stockpile food and gaining outdoor survival skills.Typically, it has been the Gen Xers who were the most prepared, but millennials have stepped up and taken over the helm.  Those aged 24-39 are concerned about natural disasters, terrorist attacks, mass power failure, economic disaster, and pandemics.  Today’s survivalists are not building bunkers in their backyards, but they are prepared for living outdoors without the use of modern conveniences. 

This demographic appreciates nature, biodiversity, reducing their carbon footprint and off-the-grid living.  Connect and engage this audience by using Facebook, Youtube, Twitter and Instagram.  Search ‘outdoor survival gear’ and you will find product reviews for camping gear, knives, freeze-dried food, and other outdoor survival hacks such as how to light a fire with a ferro rod,  gourmet cooking using rations and the ultimate ‘Bug Out Bag’ (aka 72-hour Emergency Kit).

YouTube tips for outdoor survival

Prepare. Protect. Thrive. Survive.

Most survivalists are male; however, females do a fair bit of purchasing for the family unit as well.  Products that have multiple uses such as Leatherman tools, Gerber knives and Alpenlore belts are attractive to this group as the will pay more money for quality gear.  Hobbies and interests include hunting, fishing, hiking, and camping.  Influencers, who readily share their knowledge and experiences, look like a stereotypical ‘outdoorsman’ – rugged-looking wearing t-shirts, cargo pants, and boots (i.e. No clean-cut, 3-piece-suit wearing corporate-types need apply).

Do you think you have what it takes to survive living outdoors in the wild, gathering your own food, using flint to make fire, and building your own shelter?   Recent events have made us realize that we need to be prepared for any emergency.  What have you learned from dealing with Covid-19. What would be the essential items in your Bug Out Bag?

#AlwaysBeReady #Prepper #emergencypreparedness #outdoorsurvival   #outdoorsurvivalgear #survivalgear #outdoorliving #wilderness #bushcraft #OffTheGrid #survivalkit #survivalhacks #wildernessskills #outdoorskills #huntingskills #fishingskills #outdoorcooking #survivalguide #bugoutbag  #PrepareProtectThriveSurvive

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COM0014-Blog#2: Outdated telegraph still impacts today’s news coverage

COM0014-Blog#2: Outdated telegraph still impacts today’s news coverage

Image of telegraph machine courtesy Pixabay/Ray Shrewberry

I often thought that news stories were written in a format to accommodate the reading style of inspectional readers i.e. those who skim and scan for key information.  However, it is Samuel Morse, the inventor of the telegraph, who has the most impact on how we write and consume news and information today.

Before the invention of the telegraph in 1844, storytellers could afford to be long-winded in their writing since news had no urgency.  It could take weeks or months to send communications coast to coast or to other continents via stagecoach or steamer.  However, the new telegraph technology was expensive to use and if the lines were cut during the transmission of the message, it was prudent to get the most important information across first. Writing styles had to change from long, drawn-out partisan journalism to concise, objective newswriting. Many adopted the Inverted Pyramid writing style (leading with the most important information) out of necessity but that is no longer our reality. 

Inverted Pyramid Writing Style

Telegrams are outdated and have long been replaced by email. Perhaps it is time that we shelve the ‘Inverted Pyramid’ concept and stop teaching it in our classrooms or does this century-old style of journalism still have relevance today?

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