COM0014 – Blog#7, Personal Reflection

A ~year ago, I started a consulting business but, outside of my network, it had slow growth. I wrote it off to not providing a service people wanted but the lessons learned throughout this course made me realize otherwise. I wasn’t injecting my personality into it and after reflecting, it’s easy to understand why people didn’t want to invest in a service when they didn’t know who the provider was. My content lacked relationship building techniques, opting instead for a factual delivery of information and I certainly wasn’t telling a story. With each new module, my understanding of what people are looking for in a brand grew and my missteps became more clear. 

In our digital age when we so often only see snippets of real life and have less and less face to face interaction, storytelling is important so that viewers get to know who you or the brand are, the values you hold and see you as more than just a machine. People connect and relate through stories when building a friendship and digital friendship is no exception to that. Hearing a story pulls you in, hearing a good story can help you envision yourself as part of the plot. What better way to connect and reach your goals than by having your listener feel like they are a part of what you represent. 

This course expanded my view of online communication. Before, I thought it was all about being clever, but now, I believe it’s about being genuine. Just as I value truth in real life communications, I also value truth online and so moving forward, that will be at the center of my communication strategy and storytelling, not sales, whether it is truth about success, failure, happiness or loss. 

Tell your story, build a connection. 

COM0014 Blog #6 Do People Know Your Personal Story?

The Face of Fear

You’d never know it based on appearances, but I am filled with fear; fear of causing my future self to have regrets and being left to wonder the dreaded, what if. Fear is also what holds me back from trying to reach the achievements that, in and of themselves, could prevent the former. I can name this fear easily because I’m already in the aftermath of my younger self making decisions based on fear; decisions like, how would life be different if I accepted that offer to school in England? Where would I be if I stuck with my first degree? What if we put in the effort to turn our food truck idea into reality? Who would I be if fear didn’t dictate so much? There’s no definite answer to any of these questions, just infinite possibilities of what could have been. Naming this fear was the first step, and now, acknowledging the presence of fear is slowly helping me to force the fear out of my everyday choices and change my internal dialogue. Instead of thinking things like, I don’t know how to get this idea off of the ground, would anyone even care about this service, what if I just waste a bunch of money, or worse, what if I waste my time? I’m trying to think things like, how can I get this business off of the ground, who can I ask for mentorship, the right market can be found, it’s not a waste of time if I believe in it. Where I am today, living with the constant what if’s, has shown me that the fear of looking back and having regrets is my biggest fear. Moving forward, I’d rather know I tried than knowing fear made my decision for me. 

COM0014 Blog#5 Personal Brand

Photo by Aaron Webber

When trying to define my personal brand I ran into several roadblocks: what is my brand? What makes me an expert in any industry? What sets me apart from the people who have it all (seemingly) figured out? Did we not just conclude that a personal brand is more authentic when it’s your personality? Why is this so hard?

I’m not an influencer and I think that is what would set me apart on social. There have been times I would have loved to be, but I’m not cut out for it. The constant cheeriness, the cheesy call to actions, showing the ‘perfection’ that is their life – obviously it’s working for them as they’re deemed influencers and have mass followings but I just don’t see the truth in it. So maybe that’s part of my personal brand, truth.

I can easily construct a personal brand in relation to my career as a teacher, and I have; but at the heart of it, that’s not who I am, I am not a teacher, therefore that can’t be my personal brand.

To complete this assignment I looked back at my career history and picked out these nine common denominators that are representative of my personality and values that carry through to a professional setting:

  • Laid back but not lazy
  • Observational and perceptive before actionable 
  • Ease of delivering what I perceive to be expected
  • Truthful through constructive conversation
  • Confident but quiet
  • Cheerleader for peers
  • Steadfast belief in accountability
  • Critical of incongruity 
  • Factual not emotional

I imagine that putting these values/characteristics into play in a communications auditing role would create a good alignment between myself and my audience as well as allow my personal brand to be entirely created and run by my personality. I wouldn’t be trying to create a brand based around myself that wasn’t in fact representative of myself which no doubt would lead to burnout and affect the brand/business. 

Light bulb moment!

These characteristics are me, I am these characteristics therefore this is how I am separated from the competition – nobody else is me. I might jive with some and won’t with others but that is fine – there is someone out there with a slightly different personal brand that would better suit the needs of that person.

In reality, I don’t believe my personal brand can actually be defined until I put it out there and find out how the audience perceives it – the unity of what I’m putting out and how I’m being received is really the definition of what my personal brand is. 

Photo by Robyn Smith

COMM0014 Blog#5 B2C, Staples Canada

Staples Canada Innovates with Contactless Curbside Pickup and Rexall  Partnership

Staples Canada is using Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest to reach their target audience through social channels and they are (this close to) killing it, or so it would seem. A quick glance at the Staples Canada profile on each platform shows consistent imagery and language in their bio creating cohesive brand representation. They know their target market is millennial moms through to business professionals so these platforms will proposition Staples Canada on the channels their market is using most. After a browse through all of these channels, it can be said that Staples Canada:

  • Provides information and resources ✔
    • The majority of their posts lead with a question followed by a slice of information linked to a resource or future event
  • Creates community ✔
    • The use of a brand centred hashtag, #worklearngrow and #staplesspotlight encourages employees, customers and brand partners to create community as well as show off purchases 
    • Curating and hosting virtual events, not to be mistaken as altruistic as, afterall, Staples Canada is a business, these events pair nicely with a new purchase from Staples Canada
  • Acknowledges current social matters ✔
    • Using a combination of the different Pride flags during Pride month
    • Posting about current social issues such as the recent uncovering of the mass grave at the former residential school location in BC

While Staples Canada is using the best social media channels for their target market and creating a cohesive online presence throughout all of the channels, there are clear next steps the company must take to up their game, especially in the age of social media. 

  • Interaction with audience – creating a hashtag to allow customers to become part of the Staples Canada story is great, however, their inconsistent replies to customers via social media is noticeable and the issue with this is amplified because there are only a handful of comments on posts making it seem that these questions are ignored rather than just unable to get to due to the amount of questions. A greater effort should be made to reply to satisfy current and potential customers. 
  • Social standing – 
    • (a) including a Pride flag isn’t demonstrative of inclusion and equity anymore, showing how you are an ally is what matters. Is there continuing education occurring within the company? How about using the #staplesspotlight hashtag as a way to spotlight who the flag represents? A recent comment on their Instagram asks what they are doing beyond using the flag and -surprise- no reply. 
Staples Canada - Home | Facebook

  • (b) posting about the mass grave in BC shows they are listening to the news, but are they listening to the people? The Facebook post reads, 

“At Staples we will continue to build our education and awareness of the lived experiences of Indigenous Peoples in Canada with all of our associates, and stand up for diversity, equity and inclusion every day.” – Staples Canada

May be an image of sky

This is another example of Staples Canada acknowledging a social/political issue. Their words are great, but how is Staples Canada do this?

Staples Canada has made a solid effort to be present where their target market is, but target markets are wising up to companies empty contributions to society and lack of relationship building in exchange for more niche brands that put in the work to build a relationship and earn their sales. With more consistent and timely customer interaction and clearly defined steps to help achieve social goals within the company, I think Staples Canada stands a chance with the next generation of tech-savvy customers.

COM0014 Blog#3 Target Audience

Forest schooling, Reggio Emilia approach, wildschooling, unschooling, nature schooling, etc., are all seen as alternative education.

While there are an abundance of conferences dedicated to sharing resources and learning more about these approaches in Europe and gaining traction in the US, Canada is trailing behind, leaving social to help bridge the gap between supply and demand.

My initial target market breakdown for alternative schooling was:

  • Female
  • In a partnership
  • Parent to preschool/early elementary child
  • Modest income 
  • 25-45
  • Mindful of the environment
  • Hands on
  • Values don’t align with traditional schooling
  • Nurturing
  • Uses social to build community with like-minded parents
  • Researcher
  • Values time over things

Using Google Trends, Twitter hashtags, Facebook groups and Instagram to further narrow down my target market it became clear that, although similar, a more specific target market can be defined for each branch of alternative schooling.

For the purpose of this blog, I will focus on wildschooling. 

Google doesn’t have enough data to help narrow down the target market for wildschooling which leaves Facebook groups, blogs, Instagram and Twitter hashtags. After doing a quick browse it became evident that wildschoolers can be broken down into two different categories: providers and seekers. While both share similar qualities:

  • Educator
  • Local shoppers
  • Modest spenders
  • Quality over quantity
  • Lifelong learner
  • Questioner
  • Process over product
  • Relationship builder
  • Personal growth
  • Maker

The main difference was that as a provider, they felt more established in their journey and shared inspiration in terms of experiences with a higher degree of authority. The seeker was a ‘newbie’ on the scene, seeking as much information as they could about the philosophy and practical side of wildschooling. While the seeker was still part of the conversation and sharing experiences, they seemed to be looking for approval of what they had done rather than simply sharing. 

Communicating with this audience, specifically in Canada where there isn’t a prominent wildschooling presence, would be best done via small group and/or personalized manner. Since wildschooling itself is a niche market and personal in nature, applying a blanket approach/sending a blanket message would not work. Creating Facebook groups where participants can share activities and get to know other participants would allow for the participants to build a relationship with others, which is valued. Creating a hashtag that wildschoolers could use could help build community. As a company trying to reach this market, it would be important to consider the values of wildschooling. For example, sponsoring a wilderness day where there is space to roam, natural provocations and opportunities for natural interaction with other participants would be more beneficial than to provide a structured day of prescripted learning modules and outcomes. 

COM0014-Blog#2 Storytelling and Communication Styles

‘Cuz if you are, you’d know that I’m all for the humour appeal and since having kids, I’m a sucker for a tug at the heartstrings. 

Module three was a crash course in knowing your audience and building a relationship with them, all highlighted below.


Know your audience. Like really know them. Like, could go to Timmies and get their order right, kinda know them. 


Where do they spend their time and how do they spend that time? Are they passively scrolling Instagram? Are they share-ers? Do they click on links? 


Read the room. What is happening socially, politically, environmentally, etc., that is important to your target audience? How can you become involved and show you’re listening to what your audience is asking for? How can you commit to being part of a cause externally? Can you volunteer time, offer free resources, offer free product? How can you demonstrate your commitment to a cause internally? Committees? Continuing education? Show your audience your efforts.


Use technology to your advantage. Sign up for Google Trends and Alerts, follow hashtags, subscribe to RSS feeds. Stay on the offensive so you don’t sign off on the next Motrin mishap. 


Tell your story. Don’t hop on the scene with a sales pitch. Create a relationship, provide information and resources your audience wants and then present them with a solution (your product).


Provide ways for engagement. How and why someone will interact with your brand depends on who your audience is – would they use branded stickers on Instagram? Profile picture frames on Facebook? A jingle overlaying their TikTok video? A fun hashtag? Let them become part of your story. 

Marketing is no longer a pipeline beginning with the brand and ending with the consumer. Marketing is about relationship building. After all, you’d rather hang out with a friend than a boss, right?

COMM0014 – Blog #1: In Need Of A Vacation After This Vacation…

What’s that old saying? Fail to plan & plan to fail? Perhaps applicable to some of life’s endeavors but not when traveling, not when traveling with kids & certainly not when traveling internationally for the first time with your spouse because regardless of planning/not, it proves futile. Our last family vacation was our first family vacation & in all honesty, probably our last unless we take separate planes, trains & automobiles. I thought researching & planning was crucial if we wanted our ten days in the Gulf to be smooth sailing so, I researched, planned, wrote lists & cross referenced those lists with a master list. 

<Insert Murphy’s Law here 😑> 

This is how the trip rolled out ↴

  • Break toe knuckle days prior, require a walking boot for enjoyable walks on beach ✔
  • Arrive at hotel where ‘park & fly’ has been paid for only to find out the reservation agent has no clue that isn’t available & now have to find somewhere to leave truck, return playpen/other unnecessary items and walk back to hotel before 5 am departure ✔
  • Decide it’s necessary to bring three year old’s car seat because who knows the history of rental ones 😕 ✔
  • Buy expensive wheely thing to easily transport said car seat to departure gate only to find out it has to be checked, & will cost extra – naturally
  • Briefly recall scenes from Home Alone when three year old takes off after ‘Dad’ ✔
  • Finally accept that beggars can’t be choosers when it comes to flight times & then miss connecting flight due to delays ✔
  • Realize at this point that you’re not travel compatible with husband ✔ 
  • Woo, arrive – so late your car rental has been given away & they’re trying to have one brought to you…at 11 pm ✔
  • Woo, upgraded to massive SUV…only to realize car seat is MIA, given sketchy rental one ✔
  • Woo, first morning on the beach…wake up to a tornado alert ✔
  • Only pack a swimsuit for one child, requiring dad & youngest to swim in their underwear ✔
  • Purchase (expensive) tickets to set sail on a pirate ship & experience life at sea, hoping to bring a smile to pirate obsessed, three year old’s face ✔ (linked here ↓)
Buccaneer Pirate Cruise

  • Regret decision within minutes as said child hides in the galley the entire time ✔
  • Prepare to fly home where we had some minor things to attend to, like jobs, just to have flight inexplicably cancelled at 4 am ✔
  • Find flights for the next day, get detained because your walking boot swabbed positive for explosives ✔
  • Woo, finally arrive at Pearson…truck’s dead, it’s -20 & the lot attendant has to literally drive into your truck so the booster cables reach  – next time, reverse in ✔ 
  • Finally sit down in your living room at the end of it all, turn the news on to find out there’s a global virus heading your way ✔ 

So tell me, how was your first family vacation? Sign below to petition for a redo ↓