COM0014- Blog #7- Personal Reflection

When I enrolled in this course, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I had experience with social media through my own personal uses but with my new job position, I was needing some guidance on how to navigate it on a professional level. All of the assignments and content that we have covered have given me a lot to consider while creating the social media plan for our association. Even just having a blog to write every week has been great practice to get my creative juices flowing again. I have already had compliments at work about the differences they had noticed in my writing since I start this course.

Putting your personal story out there into the world of the Internet is a little terrifying at first. Knowing that complete strangers are reading some of your most personal thoughts. As I was writing though, I realized that the blogs and accounts that I have connected with the most, are all people who are sharing some personal side of themselves. Whether it’s their financial struggles and how they are navigating that, or their most horrible date stories turned into a comedy routine. People are drawn to what they can relate to, or even sympathize with. It helps to remind you that you’re not the only person in the world going through that particular struggle. Sharing your story like that definitely adds a human touch to what can be a rather impersonal experience. When there are thousands of blogs and accounts out there competing for their chance in the spotlight, connecting and drawing people in with your storytelling can be what sets you apart. 

I’m still figuring out how to incorporate storytelling into our business. It’s a little more challenging when it’s not your story to tell. I know that finding our voice and bringing that personal touch will help us connect more with our members, and to stand out on the provincial stage.  

COM0014- Blog #6 Do People Know Your Story

“What about your childhood shaped you for this moment?” 

Keri doesn’t talk much, does she? 

To say I was quiet as a child was an understatement. I wouldn’t say that I was necessarily shy but I do know that I really only spoke when I needed to. I have always considered my words carefully and never been the type just to talk for the sake of making noise.  

Of course, that all changed when I found my love of theatre. Suddenly I was up on the stage in front of a full audience with all eyes on me. I could no longer remain the quiet, thoughtful student in the back.  

I remember one particular occasion after a performance of South Pacific in high school, I had one of my elementary school teachers come to find me in the lobby. When she saw my name in the program, she could hardly believe it was the same silent girl who had spoken only a handful of words to her all year. Her shock over finding me on stage made me realize how far I had come. 

I’m so thankful that I found the confidence to come out of my shell. Being comfortable speaking in front of a large group has definitely been a vital skill that I have needed over the years. Particular now in a Communications role as it often consists of presenting to groups.  

I do think that my years of silence have also, surprisingly, been of benefit to me. I still carefully consider what I want to say before putting it out to the world which, when you are responsible for an organization’s communications, this can only be a good thing. I take in and listen to all sides before forming my response. This has been incredibly useful when it comes to crafting social media messaging as I take the time to think about my audience and who exactly I’m speaking to, making sure that the message is going to hit the target it’s intended for.  

For better or worse, our childhoods play a part in shaping who we grow to be. We just have to figure out how to use those building blocks to our advantage.  

COM0014- Blog #5- Personal Brand

Fearless. Determined. Musical. Kind.  

These are all words that I have heard used to describe me by friends, family and colleagues over the years.  

I have never been particularly good at being able to break myself down to a few adjectives and even worse at ‘tooting my own horn’. A sad reality is that it’s often far easier to know your weakness and what you need to improve versus bragging about the wonderful things about you. I know that I am guilty of that.  

Before setting out to write this piece I decided that I would consult with two of my closest friends, one of whom is a former colleague, to get their take on what makes me stand out from the crowd. After all, I could come up with all the words I wanted but what I really needed to know is what I was putting out to the world. How do others see me. 

“Honesty. You see the B.S out there and you’re never afraid to call it out.” 

“I’ve always liked getting your perspective on issues because you see the big picture. You consider all the angles before offering advice or a solution. You also have great hair but I’m not sure if that would help you get a job.” 

Getting that feedback definitely put a little spring in my step. Who doesn’t like hearing all the good things about themselves from the people who matter the most to them. 

I sat down with all the words written in front of me and really considered why people saw those qualities in me.  

It was interesting that as I really dug into those descriptors, I realized that I did see all of them in myself but I had taken the negative view.  

They saw my solo move to a new province with no safety net as fearless, I thought it could be viewed as reckless. They saw knowing what I want and going after it as determined, I wondered if it could come across as pushy.  

Then I started wondering why was I so concerned about people seeing that in me? Why do we spend so much time trying to craft these perfect images to the world. Worrying that the parts that make us, us, are somehow barriers or off putting. It’s our mistakes and flaws that build who we are and make us interesting.  

Maybe I am a little pushy or reckless at times, but that means I’m not afraid to take chances or put in hard work to get a job done. I am loud and passionate, maybe to a fault at times, but I will always stand up and speak out for what I believe in. I’m fiercely loyal and will always be honest, even when what needs to be said is tough to hear, because I know it’s the right thing to do.  

This assignment has been a great exercise in self-reflection. Turning what we think of as imperfections into what make us stand out.  

COM0014 Blog #4- B2C Case Study

After a move in 2015, I found myself facing a very common problem. I had cancelled my cable provider and was owed a refund, but despite hours lost on the phone with multiple levels of customer service, I was getting nowhere fast. At the end of my rope, I took my frustration to Twitter and tagged the company in my tweet. Within minutes I had received a DM from a representative and after a few short exchanges, the issue was rectified and my refund was on its way.  

This was my first experience witnessing the power of social media and the influence it has on companies. It was apparent that they were not overly concerned with my lost time in phone calls but the second they were framed in a negative light on such a public forum, they were quick to act on it.  

While this is an example of the negative impact social media can have on a company, I wanted to draw attention to a company I think is getting it right. The one I have chosen for my case study is Starbucks Canada. Given my love of coffee, this was a natural choice! 

The company makes use of a variety of social media channels such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Linkedin. They are also regularly trending in Tik Tok thanks to the many videos sharing recipes for “secret menu” items.  

I think one of the most important things that Starbucks does with their platforms is utilizing it for a variety of reasons. As an established company with a ready-made consumer group, it would be easy for them to just post pictures of new menu items and what is happening in their stores. Instead that regularly pose questions to their followers. They will create contests to engage the audience and my personal favourite, share promotions that can be used in store. It’s a great way to ensure that customers are actually connecting with their channels, and who doesn’t love free coffee?? I can even excuse the creative spellings of my name.  

I have also found that the times I reached out to the company via one of their social media platforms, I received a response promptly which tells me that not only are they using the channels as a form of communication with their audience, but they are also monitoring it for interactions. I think this is a really important step that a lot of companies forget about. They may post content but they’re not actually watching to see how it is received or what conversations it might be generating among their customers. This is an easy way to see what of their marketing is taken positively and what might be causing negative buzz they want to deal with quickly.  

As I have now begun using social media for an organization, I find myself paying closer attention to the companies and businesses that seem to be getting it right and maybe more important, the ones missing the mark.  

COM0014- Blog Post #3- Target Audiences

Social media can be one of the most powerful tools for a business or individual to utilize when trying to connect to their consumers. However, if used incorrectly it can be a bit like yelling into the abyss or at worst, alienating for your potential customers.  

My biggest take away from this week’s lessons is that determining your target audience prior to start a journey into the world of social media, is the smartest move that a company can make. It was evident from the case study on Motrin’s commercial supposedly targeting mothers, how easily what was supposed to propel business, quickly painted the brand in a negative light.  

Upon stepping into my new role as Communications Director for a local Union representing Education Workers, I quickly realized one of the biggest challenges they would face increasing their social media presence was the vast age range and technology comfort of their members. They had the group that likely spent the weekends filling their Instagram stories and making Tik Toks coupled with the group who struggled to figure out how to send a basic email. It has truly been a challenge figuring out how we can effectively and efficiently communicate while appealing to both groups without leaving one in the dark.  

To better understand how we could accommodate all of our members, we formed a Communications Committee tasked with surveying the membership to find out what forms of communication would best suit their needs. From this we were able to determine that to ensure all our members were receiving timely communication from the Union we did have a large portion of the membership wanting an increased social media presence but we also needed to continue with email blasts and utilizing our website as we still had members more comfortable with those formats. I think that taking the time to do this research was imperative for the function of our organization to ensure that we were meeting the needs of all members that we represent.  

Social media usage can certainly be a quick, convenient and fun way to communicate and interact with your audience. However, if you don’t take the time to really understand who exactly you’re speaking to, it can quickly fall flat.  

COM0014: Blog #2- Storytelling

Storytelling surrounds us every day. Whether it’s your co-worker’s latest weekend escapade, the Netflix series that you’re currently binging, or scrolling through your various social media feeds everyone has something to say. How they say it is the real draw in though. Especially when it comes to the internet. There are so many stories and voices clogging up the web, that getting yours noticed almost seems like winning the lottery. Being able to captivate and engage an audience right in front of you is one thing but drawing people in from the other side of a computer screen, with only your words, is a whole other beast.

What I learned this week is the storytelling that catches the most attention and makes people clink the link instead of scrolling on by, is open and honest. It strikes a chord with its audience because it’s relatable and stirs something within those consuming it. The words don’t need to be perfectly crafted, but it does need to have heart.  Given how cold and impersonal digital platforms can be, audiences want to feel like they’re being invited in and really getting to know the creator.

Another take away I have is the importance of accountability in storytelling, especially when it comes to digital content. Everyone has access right at their fingertips to a proverbial soapbox where they can air their thoughts and opinions all hours of the day. Unlike traditional media where the onus lies with the storyteller to fact check what they are publishing now that responsibility has shifted to the audience. With so much content to take in, it’s important to be able to take it all ‘with a grain of salt.’ As we move towards a world that I can only imagine will become more saturated with digital content, we need to be able to distinguish what is truth and what is likely just hearsay from your cousin’s, girlfriend’s, hairdresser’s neighbour 3 doors down. 

Storytelling can be a powerful tool for any online content creator to master but clearly one that needs to be used responsibly.  

COM0014 – Blog #1: What I Did On My Vacation

COM0014 – Blog #1: What I Did On My Vacation

All together

“Mom thinks we should take a trip out West this summer.”

I waited for the hysterical laughter I was sure was about to come. 

“I think that sounds like a great idea!” 

I thought my sister was kidding when she agreed with my mom’s idea. I love my parents but flying 2 hours to Manitoba to load them into a car and drive 12 hours across the Prairies, didn’t rate high on 2019 Keri’s list of fun vacation ideas.

Before a 12 hour drive across the flattest part of Canada

It would end up being one of the best decisions I have ever made. 

Every summer since moving to Ontario my sister and I have, somewhat begrudgingly, made the trek back to our hometown of Brandon, Manitoba. It’s not that we don’t love where we come from, but if you have ever been to Brandon, you would understand why the idea of a week there didn’t exactly thrill.

The summer of 2019, my mom decided that instead of our usual trip to Clear Lake, we were going to take a proper family vacation. That was how we found ourselves loading up a Chevy Tahoe at 6am and beginning the day-long journey out West with my mother backseat driving the whole way. 

Would love to play here every day

I couldn’t have known it at the time but over 2 years later, those moments would be what kept me going through this pandemic. 

The seemingly endless fields of Saskatchewan, playing a piano on top of a mountain, my dad searching for that exact Hoodoo we had taken a picture of 20 years prior. Returning to my beloved childhood vacation spot of Drumheller to play with the dinosaurs.

He found it!

After a week of driving all over what felt like every corner of Alberta, we dropped our parents off and eagerly began the journey back to Ontario. It had been an amazing trip but I was always excited to return to the pace of my normal life. Recharge myself for next summer’s trip home. Secure in the fact that like every year before, I would be back before I knew it. I took all those summer trips, being eaten alive by mosquitos, for granted. I know that now.

It’s been 2 years and 7 months since we waved goodbye as we backed out of our parents’ driveway.

Over 900 days since I last hugged my parents. 

Mom, I promise this summer I will take you wherever you want to go.