COM0014 – Blog #7: Personal Reflection

As I look back at these past few months, I recall some of the highlights of this course for my own professional development. One of the key points that stuck with me is to always have a specific goal before you start writing and stick to it throughout your story. Another interesting concept was the power of a close relationship between personal and corporate branding. I still struggle to see how my personal brand can be used in concert with that of my department.  

I had the opportunity to discover that storytelling takes many shapes. It was not so obvious to me that a lot of content, especially content that was of interest to me, was a form of storytelling. This is obviously important because it creates a connection between the audience and the storyteller. It creates a more intimate relationship between a potential customer and a business. I realize that companies can manipulate its target audience by using great storytelling.

This course provided me with insight to address the challenge of creating online content for a broad audience. The use of simple, clear and concise language as well as using an active voice and making zero mistakes may just be the trick.

I aspire to continue developing my storytelling skills as it is an essential part of my job as a communications officer. The main type of stories we publish on our channels is generally international development success stories. We like seeing the concrete success of our partner’s hard work on the field. My team and I wish to share these amazing stories and photos with all Canadians. This course has given me a chance to learn a lot about digital communications. I have been able to take these lessons and apply them to my day-to-day work.

COM0014 – Blog #6: Do people know your story?

What is the greatest challenge your business must overcome?

First, I must admit that I do not and likely will never work for a business. However, I do work for the federal government. This has its fair share of challenges. Recently, my Minister was shuffled into a new position. All our communications products had to change overnight. Additionally, we have many guidelines and strict policies we must adhere to when communicating to the public.

These are just a couple examples, but if I had to choose a specific challenge that continues to be a central focus for my team. I would have to admit that the creation of content that maintains the interest and even participation of the public.

We have been trying out new things and checking the analytics of the success of each post over a period of time. We have been trying to see why some content fails while others succeed. Sometimes even outside forces overshadow some of our content. What I mean is that we have seen a drop in engagements and even impressions when big world events happen at the same time.

We have been challenging ourselves to trying different approaches. We have been writing success for projects funded internationally. We made sure to have excellent quality visuals on all posts from photos, videos, infographics, GIFs, etc. We have been pushing interactions with the public by doing trivia and even trying to get people to participate in a photo challenge.

I believe in my field of work, the challenge will always to be to create, maintain and even grow our following. The challenge of having the best content on a regular basis is a pretty difficult challenge.

COM0014 – Blog #5: Personal Brand

As you may have already deducted by reading my previous posts, you would have noticed a few characteristics that highlight my personal brand. You may note that I am a communications advisor for the federal government and that I really enjoy travelling. On top of these I will add several qualities that set me apart from my competitors.

First, I have a broad educational background. I studied a range of topics from international law to economics. I have always been very good and passionate about history but decided to focus my studies in foreign relations and diplomacy. My social science degree allowed me to learn about the world on different levels (political, economic, social, psychological, etc.). Following my studies, I had the opportunity to travel to over thirty countries and meet so many people. I got to practice several languages and discover cultures and traditions from many different societies. The combination of my studies and travel experiences give me an advantage in getting into working for my department.

What sets me apart from other communicators is my range of experience in my six years at this government department. I have done media analysis, social media and management. I was a supervisor for a team of 22 media monitors. My colleagues have told me that I am a great team player and have a great sense of humour. I realize now that my old team which I supervised for about a year still seek my guidance. In fact a received a call from an old colleague while typing this very post. I truly take pride in my work and the relationships I build along the way.

COM0014 – Blog #4: B2C Case Study

I am a big traveler and the the way I discovered travel was through big organized tours. The competition is fierce to attract business to their companies because there are so many options for the average travelers. Some companies focus on younger people and others have a range of age groups and travel types. G Adventures was one of many companies I followed on social media.

I would like to say that G Adventures succeeded in their approach to using social media. First, they do not restrict all their tours to specific ages. They offer a range of different options. This is important because their online presence can reach a much broader audience. The can target backpackers, campers, young professionals, even families.

The company relies on nearly all forms of popular social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Google+). They regularly create new content on all networks – whether it is stories, top lists, discussion on certain experiences or foods, unique videos or simply posting awe-inspiring photos. I believe they understand how to correctly use platforms so that they do not inundated potential consumers with information.

They understand their clients because they understand that it’s almost impossible to travel all the time. This is why they try to build a relationship with their clients especially on the long term. Travel-based businesses need to have longer relationships with clients because a trip is rarely something the average person does on a whim.

Their email marketing strategy is also an excellent way they keep their clients hooked. They offer great deals and sales on occasion and also have giveaways.

Having both original content and occasional deals do hook long term consumers and even new consumers to their company. I believe they not only understand the competition in this field, but they also know their audience and the platforms to keep the audience hooked.

COM0014 – Blog #3: Knowing my Audience

The target audience for my job is quite broad. Working for the federal government, our true goal is to inform all Canadian citizens. I realize that each department may have more specified audiences. By using tools described in this week’s lesson, I got to discover our audience.

I have several tools for which I can make searches in my specific field – international development. I explored Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to see my type of audience. As I had anticipated, the demographics ranged. I discovered, by using the analytics that the demographics were very different in all three platforms. On Twitter, our demographic was more skewed towards men and more so in the 30 to 45 age range. Instagram was balanced with a more young followers. Facebook ranged widely in age and gender. The analytics also indicated the different times our followers were the most active. On Facebook, followers are more active around lunch whereas Instagram is later in the day. The psychgraphic information indicated our following was much more liberal. Recently we have seen a rise in popularity related to posts and tweets on gender equality. With these findings, I could deduce that my active followers are open-minded.

I managed to use the various platforms to explore groups (on Facebook) and create lists of followers of relevant hashtags using Hootsuite. I discovered that a majority of our followers are international partners and organizations.

With all these findings, I know that I will need to target specific audiences on specific platforms. I also know the importance of timing and when to issue tweets or Facebook posts. I also know our partners are closely monitoring our channels for up-to-date information.  

COM0014 – Blog #2: Conveying your story online

The trick to attracting readership and maintain the attention of your audience requires a neat balancing act. You must give the most important information at the start of your text. This information needs to be well planned. Your writing must be concise yet descriptive and everything must be professional and clean.

Inverted Triangle

Readers, especially online, have a short attention span. With this in mind, content must be created with the most relevant information near the beginning and end with less important information.

The Pitch

An interesting lesson that all writers must keep in mind is that they must have a goal with their creation. The writer will want to plan their content so they achieve their goal. As a writer, you can ask yourself, “what do I want to achieve with this article?” Be sure that everything you write leads to this answer.

Balancing Act

Writers will need to keep in mind the five W’s and the one H; the questions of who, what, where, when, why and how must be answered. Don’t forget that you do not want to bog down the reader with too much information. This is where you will need to balance the information. You must make sure that all important information is conveyed and withhold the unnecessary details.


Always be sure to proofread all material. Readers will maintain interest if the grammar and spelling is excellent. Keep your ideas consistent and clear otherwise you will lose readers. Writers should also focus on composing in an active rather than a passive voice because it is clear and concise. You can include some passive sentences to vary the sentences. The point of this will be to keep the readers challenged and interested.

COM0014 – Blog #1: Gooood Morning Vietnam!

Last January I had the pleasure to attend my friend’s wedding in Vietnam before exploring the country!

My girlfriend and I arrived in Hanoi after 30 hours of flying. Everything was a bit of a blur when we arrived at our hotel. I only remember trying to plan my commute to my friend’s city for the next day. My friend reassured me that a 12-person van would pick us up at a nearby intersection. She only gave me a portion of a licence plate. After several taxis flag us down, we spot a small car stop near us with similar plates and the driver was grabbing our bags.  We hopped in. The driver hands me an old flip phone and to my surprise it was my friend who reassured me that the driver will drop us off at her place. He did not. He dropped us on the side of a highway and pointed at a card with a photo of a 12 person van. There were so many but we finally spotted it – not knowing if it was the right one. We arrived in Mao Khê and enjoyed the extravagant wedding.

We returned to Hanoi after a few days of celebration and explored the old town of Hanoi, an ancient city of over 1000 years old!

Ngoc Son Temple, Hanoi

My girlfriend and I met up with my sister in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and discovered a vibrant, modern city.  Tourists were everywhere and scooters outnumbered everything else! We visited markets, museums and much more!

We made our way to the Mekong Delta to discover the culture and food of the region. We ate jackfruit, durian, snake, rat and tasted delicious snake whiskey. We later explored the Cu Chi tunnels which were used during the Vietnam War. We even got to shoot an AK-47 rifle after our informative history tour.

Nha Trang was our relaxing vacation during this trip because we mainly relaxed on the beach.

Next Stop Hoi An! This colourful city gave us a chance to purchase custom suits or clothing at a reasonable price. At night this city glowed with its hundreds of lanterns on its old streets.

After a brief stop in Hue, we went to Halong Bay. This is one of the most beautiful scenic areas I have ever seen! Spectacular cliffs jut out of the South China Sea. We stayed on a junk boat and even kayaked around the islands where we got to see monkeys!

Halong Bay

The last place we visited was Sapa, near the Chinese border. We stayed in an amazing ecolodge overlooking rice fields built on the side of the mountains (link). The trip ended in Hanoi where the entire city exploded with colour, cheers and noise after their soccer team won an important match.

It was an unforgettable trip!