COM 0015: Blog # 4 – Out of the Box


An unexpected application that I recently discovered was Canva. Canva markets itself as a tool that makes design simple for everyone.  I was always amazed at how easily some people can come up with beautiful and professional looking images and designs. Canva is the perfect design application for someone like me.   It is simple to use but the results are rich and beautiful.

Also,  with visual marketing being one of the biggest social media trends this year, Canva is becoming increasingly popular.

I created the above image simply and quickly on Canva. The following are some of the great features of this application:

  • Canva gives you everything you need to be able to create online or print marketing collateral, blog graphics, presentations, Facebook covers, invitations and more.
  • It is online and free to use.
  • It has a search and drag simplicity to create beautiful designs.
  • It offers the option to upload your own images or graphics and easy photo editing.
  • It has a library of more than 1 million images and hundreds of fonts.
  • It saves your work as you go so you don’t have to worry about losing any of it.


Before I discovered Canva I was solely using PicMonkey for my image design needs. However, Canva is extremely inviting and the creative opportunities are so many that it has become my go to design application.



Image: created on Canva with my own pictures

COM 0015 Blog Post # 2 – Strong and Weak Organizations

When we think of strong organizations in terms of social media Starbucks, Oreo, WestJet and Tim Horton’s are some of the examples that immediately come to mind.

The strength of an organization’s social media strategy  is especially tested in situations of crisis. The way an organization chooses to manage the problem  differentiates a strong organization from a weak one.

Gini Dietrich details the following great examples of both a strong and weak organization in her book Spin Sucks – Communication and Reputation Management in the Digital Age.





Strong: Dominos Pizza

The employees of one Domino’s franchise made and uploaded a video to YouTube for their friends to see. The video consisted of the employees spitting and sneezing in the food and then serving it to their customers.  As one would expect, this caused quite a stir on YouTube.

The way Dominos handled the situation differentiated itself as an organization with a strong social media and communications strategy.

Upon finding the video,  Dominos:

  • Said sorry – The CEO made a public apology and uploaded  it to YouTube soon after finding this video.   The franchise whose employees made the video also created a video apology and offered discounts or free pizzas to current customers.
  • Communicated the story – Both the corporate office and the franchise used their social networks to spread the apology and the message.
  •  Addressed the problem and took  timely action – They fired the employees; made sure their apology was heard and offered a solution to ensure that this didn’t happen again.

By doing all of the above, Dominos created  trust because they handled it properly and within days of the YouTube video release.

Weak: Applebee’s Restaurant

A waitress at the St. Louis Applebee’s was fired for posting on Reddit a photo of the receipt where a pastor who had eaten at the restaurant crossed out the automatic 18% tip charged for parties of more than eight and wrote “I give God 10% why do you get 18” above her signature.

Rage spread instantaneously across all social media platforms when an image of a back of another receipt where a customer praised the service he received was found on the same franchise location’s Facebook page.  Questions such as “Why wasn’t this person fired?” and “How can this still be on your page?” turned into further criticism and negative comments  around the double standard of Applebee’s company policy.

The real issue was how Applebee’s responded next.

They began to copy and paste the same preapproved message over and over again. They were also accused of deleting negative comments and blocking users.

Applebee’s should have:

  • Thought it through before reacting.
  • Actually addressed the problem and communicated properly.
  •  Apologized instead of getting defensive and backed down when they were wrong and admitted that there was a double standard in their policy.


Source: Both case studies and tips for managing a crisis from Spin Sucks – Communication and Reputation Management in the Digital Age by Gini Dietrich

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COM 0015 Blog # 3: Professional Networking – Now and in the future


Today professional networking is more important than ever.  I remember the days when you could apply for a job, secure the interview based on your resume, do well in the interview, and get the job.

These days it is all about the impression you make even before someone actually looks at your application.  Networking allows you to create awareness, position yourself as a thought leader or differentiate yourself from the competition.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both networking online and in person.

Generally online networking opportunities are free; geography or travel is not an issue; and it is easier than ever to connect and keep in touch with old colleagues and classmates.

However, sometimes nothing can replace the face to face meeting and resulting impression. Sometimes two people can share professional chemistry that is not possible to discover online.

I believe that both kinds of networking are extremely important today and I intend on giving each their due attention.  Over the next 6 – 12 months I plan on the following activities:


  • LinkedIn: Keep my profile optimized and up to date; continue connecting with new and old contacts and colleagues; staying top of mind by sharing relevant articles and posts.
  • Twitter chats: Participate in relevant twitter chats; offer thought leadership and insight by answering questions; connect with new contacts with similar professional backgrounds.


  • Present on Marketing and Branding to a group of local entrepreneurs.
  • Attend Chamber of Commerce and similar networking events.

Networking now and in the future  is no longer a nice to do but a must do exercise and everyone of us should have a networking strategy.

COM0015 – Blog # 1: Social Media Listening Tools and News Sources


In social media, listening is the essential process of understanding your customers. Who are they? Where do they gather? What are they saying? Why are they saying it and how are they saying it?  People are talking and as a brand you need to know what is being said so that you can understand how to build a trusting relationship and engage with your customers appropriately.

Two Social Media Listening Tools

Talkwalker Alerts

Talkwalker Alerts is a favourite because it is a free and easy social media monitoring tool that provides email updates of the latest and most relevant mentions  as they happen.


Hootsuite is a great tool for managing multiple social channels and applications by allowing an individual or teams to measure marketing analytics, insights and campaign results. It also allows users to efficiently monitor conversations, track social mentions, and social influence.

Two Sources of News and Updates

For me, one of the best sources for real-time and up-to-date news is Twitter. Whether it’s current events or industry news you wish to follow, the information on Twitter is instantaneous.

Another go to source of mine for news and updates is Facebook. I regularly read relevant posts and stories that appear in my feed.

What are some of your essential social monitoring tools and sources of news?

COM 0014: Blog # 7 – Personal Reflections: The Fundamentals of Digital Communications

As 2013 wrapped up and 2014 began we got inundated with many posts listing the latest and greatest trends for 2014.

In trying to focus all the attention and efforts on changing algorithms and going mobile friendly it is easy to forget about the fundamentals of digital communications.

While it is absolutely crucial to keep up with the industry and the competition, in order to tell compelling stories companies must keep the following digital communications’ basics in mind.
Always begin with a clear goal:  Based on your objectives what is your communications strategy? Is your communications strategy aligned with your overall marketing strategy?
Know your audience: Who is your target audience? What are their demographics? What are their psychographics?
Pick the correct communications approach and style: What should the communications tone be? How will you be clear, concise and get your message across? Is your audience interested in fact based communication or an experiential one?  Will a visual or a written medium be more effective for your target audience?
Grammar, punctuation, and spelling: It doesn’t matter how perfect your messaging is, bad grammar can be extremely distracting. Pay attention to these details.
Practice makes perfect: Keep doing it. You’ll probably make mistakes and that’s OK, as long as you are willing to listen to your audience, take feedback and make the right changes.

What are some other fundamentals of digital communications that guide your storytelling approach?

COM0014: Post # 6 Disney – My Favourite Customer Story

Last year we took our first cruise ever on Disney Cruise Lines. Disney was an obvious choice. Yes, it was more expensive than the other options but I knew if anyone could do it right it would be Disney.

And as expected Disney did it right.

Disney Fantasy Castaway Cay

Be Our Guest

Disney treats every guest as an unique and special human being instead of just dollars and numbers. Everyone is greeted with a smile (rare these days) and that’s just the beginning. They’re invested in getting to know you well and are committed to building that authentic relationship with you.

Making Memories

Whether it’s up front intimate experiences with the characters, riding the AquaDuck once or in my son’s case 20 times, a romantic evening for two at Palo or the exclusive fireworks over the Caribbean seas,  Disney knows how to make memories. In Genie’s words “Today’s special moments are tomorrow’s memories”.

Whistle While You Work

Disney works hard to hire and train employees to be helpful, knowledgeable, friendly,  and exhibit an “onstage” persona anytime they are within view of the customers. The cruise ship employees work 7 days a week, cruise after cruise, for the duration of their contract (5-6 months) and still always look happy and are genuinely helpful. It’s pretty remarkable.

When You Wish Upon A Star

All you have to do is ask!

One evening my 3-year-old requested blueberries. Not visible anywhere on that dinner’s Royal Court menu,  a full bowl of blueberries appeared before my son and he devoured them as quickly as they got there.

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Attention To Detail

Attention to the smallest details matter. My husband remarked as we were disembarking the ship at 9:00 am “How are they going to get the ship ready for folks to board at 11:45 am for the next cruise?” I told him that  it was easy because the ship looked as  glorious and pristine  from the moment we stepped on  to the time we got off  and every moment in between.

Main Disney Fantasy

Walt Disney said “Whatever you do, do it well. Do it so well that when people see you do it they will come back for more”. Disney does it so well that it creates loyal customers, customers who keep coming back for more.  Even at premium dollar that kind of customer service these days is truly a rarity and getting to experience it feels like magic indeed.

A version of this post first appeared on

COM0014: Blog # 5 – Personal Brand

I was at a social media conference a few months ago and before sessions, on breaks and at networking events in the evening I would introduce myself to fellow attendees. When asked “so what do you do?” I’d proudly say that I am a marketing consultant and  in return I would simply a get a lukewarm reaction that implied “Ah, just another marketing consultant”.

After the conference, I shared an airport shuttle with another attendee and we got to talking.  When she asked, I told her who I was and she stopped me  mid-sentence and remarked  “wow, this is so refreshing. It is wonderful to meet a marketing consultant with an actual marketing background”.

That’s right; I am not just someone who runs a blog and thinks that I am a social media marketing consultant. I am a marketing consultant with a marketing background. I have both the formal education and the practical job experience to back that up. I have an undergraduate degree in Finance and a Master of Business Administration in Marketing and Strategy. Currently,  I am completing my Social Media Marketing certificate.  I have over a decade and a half of experience in marketing strategy, planning, analytics, communications and more in a variety of different industries such as Financial Services, Automotive, Hardware and Housewares, Pharmaceuticals and Delivery and Logistics.

I am sincere, thoughtful, and honest in every interaction or project I take on. I am reliable; clients can count on me. Professionally or personally I honor my word, my commitments, my projects and my responsibilities impeccably and on time. Attention to quality is a measure of excellence and it speaks volumes about any brand. I approach everything I do with that measure of excellence in mind.

Yes, all of the above makes me a marketing consultant with an actual marketing background.

COM0014: Blog # 3 – LEGO And Its Target Audience

It’s December already, Black Friday and Cyber Monday came and went,  and I haven’t even started thinking about Christmas gifts yet. What do I get my boys?  There’s always LEGO right?  LEGO is usually a sure bet for parents and kids alike.

According to LEGO “the company today provides toys, experiences and teaching materials for children in more than 130 countries.” LEGO markets to its target audience by leveraging its key brand values – creativity, imagination, fun, learning and caring.

LEGO  also targets  parents by emphasizing great quality,  evoking nostalgia (most of us have fond and distinct LEGO memories from our childhood),   and playing on the emotions of bonding with our kids.

LEGO’s Let’s Build campaign is a great example of showcasing  the fun, enthusiasm and pure joy of creating something together – “Because the things we build together, live forever”.

But that’s not all. There is also a small but important part of LEGO’s target audience that has nothing to do with kids. These are the adult fans of LEGO (AFOLs). According to the case study  in Groundswell by Li and Bernoff, the AFOLs are responsible for 5 % – 10 % of LEGO’s billion dollar plus business. LEGO began marketing to them by creating a program called LEGO Ambassadors. This program builds relationships  with the  AFOLs and it helps LEGO learn what’s going on  in the highly connected AFOL world. LEGO ambassadors get information from the company on product releases and then share that information to their own personal networks, both in person and on-line.   By limiting the number of ambassadors (approx. 25)  LEGO creates competition, energizing its fans to step up and become spokespeople for the company.  The ambassadors are paid in LEGO bricks, a type of compensation that is cheap for LEGO yet highly valued by this target audience.

Do you have a favourite LEGO campaign?

Note: This post originally appeared on

COM0014 Blog # 1: What I Did On My Vacation

Last week we took our first ever cruise aboard the Disney Fantasy. We sailed from Port Canaveral, Florida  to St. Maarten, St. Thomas and  Disney’s private island Castaway Cay. I know that my son had the time of his life, especially given that the cruise was his 6th birthday celebration, but   I wanted to understand what he  truly enjoyed and thought it would be fun to do a top 5  vacation recap with him.

His Top 5:

1. Kids Clubs –Making new friends, playing games, interacting with the characters up close and personal, Toy Story boot camp and so much more.

Goofy2. Riding the AquaDuck – if you ask him he will tell you that  he rode it at least 20 times (he is not exaggerating) and he’ll tell you that it’s awesome!


3. His 6th birthday – his decorated stateroom and surprise presents and the very special butterfly at the butterfly farm in St. Thomas that chose to land on him on his special day.

Birthday Butterfly

4. Playing Midship Detective Agency – He loved solving the whodunit mysteries Disney style. The interactive and dynamic LCD artwork is very cool.

Ship Detective5. Pirate Night –  Dressing up as a pirate, seeing all his favourite pirates (Jake, Captain Hook, Jack Sparrow) and the fireworks. (they stayed up for the fireworks – yay!!!)

Pirate Night

His least favourite thing – “All the listening I had to do” he said.  Defensively, I asked “Excuse me, all the listening you had to do?” He said “yes mom, change your clothes, take a shower, come eat dinner, and don’t touch your brother. There were just too many rules.”  Yes, clearly I was the unreasonable party here.

My top 5:

1. My time at the spa – a pedicure, a facial, a perfect deep-tissue bamboo massage and more against the beautiful backdrop of the Caribbean.


2. The perfect  date night at PALO, a fine dining Italian restaurant named after the signature long poles used to push and pull gondolas in and around Venice.

Palo osso Buco

3. Enjoying  signature cocktails at the chic Skyline Bar, set against the seductive backdrop  to the 7 LCD big screens—Skyline’s “windows to the world”—that not only depict a different city locale every 20 minutes, but magically transform from day to night as each day progresses.

Skyline Lounge

4The Broadway style shows like Aladdin and late evening movies on the funnel vision with my little guy.


5. Riding the AquaDuck with my son – He’s right. An elevated and thrilling water coaster on the deck of a ship – that’s pretty fantastic indeed.

My least favourite thing-  The Ports are great but  I felt the pressure of being back on the ship by a certain time especially since my son was at the kids club (his choice of course).  We took island tours, spent time on the beach,  and did some shopping but I was always looking at the time.  The Ports offer exciting excursions but unfortunately my kids were too little for most of them.

Castaway Cay

How about you? Have you been on a Disney cruise? If not would you consider going? If so, what would make your top 5?

(Please note that a version of this post first appeared on