COM0014 Personal Reflection

Digital communication has been a great opportunity to reflect on the importance of developing a specific voice in order to convey your intended message. Although I’ve always understood the concept that the tone of the content must speak to the intended audience, it was interesting to examine the power of developing the correct style of branding, and what can happen when the voice misses the mark. I particularly enjoyed the discussion board regarding the Motrin, as it was clear to see what they were attempting to communicate, but by choosing the wrong tone and script conveyed an entirely different, and ultimately damaging message, to their brand.

Since taking this course I’ve been finding myself more thoughtful of the craft that has gone into many social media brands. Details as small as using a particular colour throughout an Instagram account (@girldrinkswine is an amazing example of a well executed voice, and a visually stunning Instagram account, using a light pink undertone throughout all of her posts) can make all the difference in creating an effective social media impression.

In the future I’m looking forward to using the concepts we examined in this course in creating new campaigns for events. Particularly the importance of developing and executing a brand, and the effectiveness of putting a voice behind that brand. Many of the events I’ve been fortunate to have worked on have great stories behind the participants in them, I think going forward, sharing these stories would be a great way to put a human connection behind the events, and will definitely be a strategy I will be looking into!

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Do People Know Your Story?

What about your childhood shaped you for this moment?

I’ve always been a planner, probably longer than I knew what I actually wanted to do with my life, which quite honestly wasn’t until well into my 20’s. But I did always know that I loved to plan ways to entertain people. And when recently asked what the first event I ever organized was I initially thought back to a number of shindigs and parties I threw for friends over the years, but my first true event, perhaps the one that started the spark, was “The Carnival” – I was eight.

Long summers were spent at the family cottage, and while I adore being in the water, I openly admit that I entirely lack the skills, or basic coordination to participate in most semi-athletic summer sports (hello broken ankle!). But I needed a way to pass my time, and more importantly I needed something to be passionate about- a project. Unlike myself, my cousins were extensively athletically talented, and to top it off great singers too – a cash cow thought my little mind. Because hey if you can’t beat ‘em use them to make money.

We organized a Cirque du Soleil style event featuring the singing gymnast and her harmonizing strongman, the daredevil and a flatulent contortionist. We made banners, and posters, built a plywood concession stand and marketed the event as aggressively as a group of children on a shoestring budget could.

And it worked! The turn out was to us tremendous, not only our families, but a dozen members of the community turned up as well. The hours of rigorous practise that we put into reciting the show, paid off and in our minds we were as good as Ringling Brothers. And we made enough money to buy a new inner tube (because it is a cottage essential even for the athletically uncoordinated).

The event became a summer traditions, some years with the planning beginning before the snow even melted. And while we eventually our love of belting out show tunes while preforming backflips, it will always be a truly amazing memory, even if I am sometimes remembered as the over-zealous show director.

And that was it, the moment in my childhood shaped my path, and thanks to all of the people who’ve supported me, (put up with my rigorous rehearsal schedules) led me into a career I love.

COM0014 Blog #5 Personal Brand

Working in an industry, like events and hospitality, which require the development of solid relationships with both customers and suppliers alike, I feel that I have been fortunate to have been able to connect strongly with those in the industry. I think that is is essential to build a strong customer base, not by thinking of potential clients as potential dollars but rather by generating personal relationships with each one; getting to know each event participant – their likes, dislikes, what style of event they enjoy, remembering details they have shared can help to build repeat customership.

I feel that something I bring to the table, that sets me apart from, not necessarily competition but others in the field, is my ability to connect deeply with both my customer base, as well as partners in our event programming. This has allowed me to build the program network, and increase our overall customer satisfaction.

In the past year, our corporate office has begun changes to the event program marketing which as deeply impacted the program, and overall has proven as disappointing to many of our customers. Something I feel particularly proud of, while unable to reverse many of these changes, has been my commitment to customer satisfaction and ability to deescalate situations which could have resulted in losing long term customers. I think that it is essential to communicate openly, and sympathetically, and ensure that teach customer know they are individually valued, which I think has been a tremendous key to my personal success in my position.

COM0014: Blog 3 Target Audiences

I thought that this week’s topic was very interesting, as I am dealing with a bit of a digital marketing disaster at work at the moment. As I mentioned in my bio I work in special events for a very large company. While the event department itself is fairly small, it still holds (at least I feel) a tremendous part in separating us for our competition, particularly in terms of superiors hospitality. For the past many years one aspect of the event program was marketed via printed brochure, which was distributed both in store and via mailing list. This was incredibly lucrative as it met the needs of the target market (high income individuals and couples between the ages of 50-75). While this form of marketing was quite effective it was also costly and it was determined in the past year that the guide would be moved online to save the cost of printing and mailing. In expressing my concern that the online marketing would not meet the needs of our target market, I was told that we would also be trying to reach a younger market as well. The online brochure launched alongside a quarterly email to remind customers of the programs available.

Within six months sales to the program declined dramatically. The B2C marketing which could have potentially reach the intended target market, was ultimately too infrequent to keep the program at the front of customer’s minds. The marketing attempts to reach a potentially younger market seemed to ignore the fact that programs offered were often out of the attainable price point for those who were being reached via social media.

While this is a bit of a ‘worse case’ scenario, I think it is a really interesting way to examine what happens when B2C marketing isn’t focused on the correct target market, and also the importance of listening and consistency.

COM 0014 Blog 2: Storytelling

What I’ve found most interesting about this week’s lesson is the importance of focusing writing on the “voice” that the audience most wants to hear. While I’ve always focused on the importance of grammar, it is equally as important to focus on structure and style. I think that listening to the intended audience prior to writing a post is the best way to understand what they most actively respond to, and are most likely to be influenced by.

In my own online writing, I tend to be fairly colloquial, and write very much in the way I would tell a story in person. I like to use humour, and in some cases sarcasm, as I do believe that it best reflects my own personal voice. That being said, I can also be a little verbose, and in some cases use excessive detail – I am a little theatrical in real life too, I admit. In particular I was struck by #15 on the list by Alan Martin, substituting short for long, as in other forms of formal and creative writing, it is often the other way around. Similarly, using the active voice, as I often speak, and write more passively, because well, it’s a little more dramatic. I think my biggest challenge in developing my social media voice will be focusing on being more concise, and planning my pieces using the inverted triangle structure. And perhaps, being a little less dramatic!

COMM0014- What I Did On My Last Vacation

This past year has been full of changes in my life (moving, career advancement, new house, etc.) Needless to say, I’ve had little time to take a vacation. Reflecting on this assignment I started thinking about all of the wonderful opportunities I’ve had to travel in the past. My travels to Europe, Alaska, the Pacific North West and the Caribbean have been nothing short of magical and I could indulge myself in near essays on those trips.

However this post isn’t about those enchanting whims through the streets of Paris or scenic hikes around the base of Mount McKinley. This post is about an ill fated, but well intended trip to rural Florida, that began at a retirement park shuffleboard tournament and ended at a Tampa Bay Costco. A trip that has inspired to me the sentiment “If life gives you lemons, then get yourself some Kirkland brand vodka” .

After a particularly gruelling winter in Northern Ontario, I had decided on a whim (and a little wine) that a visit to somewhere warm was in absolute order. Luckily, my in-laws owned a small vacation home in a retirement park, in a fairly remote town in central Florida.

“Florida is always sunny!” I erroneously announce to my husband, who has at this point has realized that begrudging acceptance is his best argument.

Two discount plane tickets later we were on our way to tropical humidity paradise. My spend-thrift way landed us a multi-layover flight, giving us the unique vantage to explore the bathrooms of no less than seven American airports. If enquiring minds wonder, O’Hare has by far the nicest. Finally, after  hours of making new friends with the people we were nestled between on opposite ends of the plane, we saw the ocean – bright, gleaming and through a 8×8 window.

My father in law greeted us excitedly at the airport, and we were off on weekend adventure! Winding through the backroads of Tampa and into rural towns full of Windixie delights, the palm trees dwindled away to mossy swamp land – we were almost there. Our arrival to the retirement park was full of delighted anticipation on my behalf, and clear dread on my husbands – after all what twenty-something doesn’t want to spend three days in small trailer with their parents?

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We celebrated the first evening with cocktails on the deck, enjoying the last hours of sunshine, and conversations with people whom we weren’t uncomfortably sharing tiny armrests with.

“There is a shuffleboard tournament tomorrow morning” My father in law announced

Enthusiastically I retort, “I am a pro at shuffleboard”  – this is an absolute fallacy.

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In the morning we joined the rest of the park at the club house, the air rife with competitive anticipation and whisps Bailey’s laden morning coffee. The sunshine of yesterday, had given way to tropical showers, the likes of which I was told hadn’t been seen there in weeks. But, there we were, and I was determined to enjoy my trip, and kick some butt at a sport which I had never actually played. Incidentally, shuffleboard pucks don’t shuffle in the rain, and our game was cut short.

“I probably would have won too” I informed my father in law.

Having narrowly been spared the humiliation of losing a game which I had talked up so much, we deferred ourselves to the streets of Zephyrhills. The torrential rains had taken their toll on the  town and much of it had lost power. We strolled the aisles of Big Lots as if it were Fifth Avenue, and triumphantly returned to our blacked out trailer with a dozen hotdogs, and other delicacies that we could craft up sans electricity. We grilled, we laughed, we went to bed at 8:45.

Our third and final day brought forth the opportunity for a trip into the city, perhaps even to the beach. The previous days storm had not broken our spirits, we were going to have our big day out. Traffic however, had decided otherwise. A purported two hour drive into town, saw the major highways shut down due to heavy construction and a slew of fender benders, and took only slightly longer than discount airline flight across the country. We arrived in the city, with only moments to spare prior to the Costco closing time.

“This has been one heck of a trip, eh?” My mother in law announced as we glided into the liquor aisle. “I think we need margaritas” And as fate would have it, there was absolutely no tequila left – Kirkland brand vodka it was.

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But here’s the thing; those Costco brand vodka and limeade were delicious; the laughs we shared in the glacially paced traffic were endless; the power-outrage hotdogs were actually the best I’ve ever had; and I got to keep my pride in tact having not been absolutely beaten at shuffle board. Sometimes vacations end up being a comedy of errors, and what should have been a weekend beach getaway, is ultimately spent in the backseat of a truck on the interstate.  Vacations aren’t always about dreamy sightseeing, or gourmet dining, sometimes the best travel memories are just the time you spend with people you love, and the crazy circumstances you overcome. Because, hey, when the Canadian weather is warm, and your glass is filled with real margaritas, you need trips like this to look back on and laugh.

Falling for Fall Beer

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It’s that time of year again: a chill in the air, scarves and boots, and of course, pumpkin spice everything. And I mean everything. So when the liquor store shelves began filling up with pumpkin spice beers, it was time to investigate. With almost every micro brewery producing a fall beer, it only made sense to wade through the lot, and suss out the good, bad and the ugly (tough job but someone had to do it). We picked out five and got down to business.

Collective Arts Sour Pumpkin Saison $3.45

img_0462Don’t overlook the word sour, this stuff packs a real pucker. But once you get past it, it’s actually a neat little beer. Reminiscent of the sour Belgian beers that are also wildly popular right now, this pint brings a fun seasonal twist to a style that has been around for centuries. Good for a festive sip, but probably not a drink all nighter.

Score: 3/5 Pumpkins

 

 

Amsterdam Autumn Hop $3.00

Hoppy as heck, but will make any IPA lover smile. Crisp and lightly bitter this is beer was img_0461easy to drink and full of flavour. My only complaint: there wasn’t really anything to set it apart from other IPAs that are on the market year round. Was it yummy? Sure was. Was it memorable? Not so much.

Score: 4/5 Pumpkins

 

 

Big Rig Tales From The Patch  Pumpkin Porter $2.75

img_0464I think I had the highest hopes for this one. As a diehard porter lover, I was imagining something rich, sweet, like a cold pumpkin spice latte of sorts. I was way off. It felt light and stringy, like uncooked pumpkin guts. The acidity was over the top for a porter, and there was no characteristic creaminess. It may have been the first time I’ve ever done this but it was right down the drain for this festive brew. I should mention that besides this rare miss, Big Rig is a phenomenal brewery and has hit it out of the ball park with all of their other creations.

Score: 1/5 Pumpkins

 

Parallel 49 Schadenfreude $5.90

img_0467Made with Munich malt, in a traditional Oktoberfest style, this pint knocks it out of the ball park. Rich in texture with little hints of pumpkin, and cinnamon, this flavourful treat hits at only 5% abv. so it’s easy to drink (maybe too easy). It comes in a 750ml bottle, but the price is still a little steep for mass consumption – I assure you it is worth every penny. The winner of the taste test for sure!

Score: 5/5 Pumpkins 

 

 

Samuel Adam’s Oktoberfest $14.95 (6 pack)

img_0468For comparison sake we decided to throw in an import. Similar in style to the Schadenfreude, the Sam Adam’s Oktoberfest is creamy and full of candied fruit and toffee flavours. A little happier than it’s Canadian counterpart, but still easy to drink, and offering lots of seasonal spice. However, we tried this last, right after the Schadenfreude, so there was it was tough competition. The American was good, but you just can’t compete with Canada on this one.

Score: 4/5 Pumpkins

 

The verdict? Kind of like pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin spice beers are fully of flavour and novelty value. It’s exciting to see what craft breweries come up with each year, and fun to test out the good. It’s back to our old stand by on our next trip to the store, but for one night, it was a fun experience.

Has anyone else done some taste testing this season? What have you tried? Any different opinions on these ones?

Stuck in the Vortex

Late one night, after a long day of work and a long evening of studying, I was laying in bed exhausted and ready to fall asleep. Except I didn’t. I was trapped in an Instagram vortex and there was no getting me out.

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Underpants the Dog

I had just discovered Underpants the Dog, and there was no stopping me from looking at every picture ‘she’ had ever posted. I was sucked in, nearly an hour past, and it was far past my bedtime-what the heck was I doing?

But I have a feeling that I’m not the only one who gets sucked into this mindless vortex of social media use. Be it endlessly refreshing a Facebook feed or pointlessly retweeting everything that seems half amusing, it seems that this behaviour is fairly common place. In fact there is even a form of shock therapy to users put a stop to mindless computer use.

I recently came across and article called “How to Break 5 Soul-Sucking Technology Habits” and it got me thinking: even though I realize mindlessly browsing Facebook can be a bad habit, what else am I doing in my life that is inadvertently causing me to be dependant on the internet.

One such topic discussed was “Falling sleep while watching Netflix”. Gosh, I do this netflix-screenshotalmost every night. Thinking that I was being money savvy and frugal, I canceled my very expensive satellite account and signed up for Netflix. So each night rather than watch the news before bed, I had just been flipping on some cable melodrama and dozed off. And now the more I think on it, how is this not any worse than flipping through hours of Instagram. I am gaining nothing of value, where I was at least getting a little information out of the news, and I was staring mindlessly at the TV rather than getting a good night’s sleep. Perhaps tonight I should pull out a book…

Another bad habit I hardly realized I had formed was “Googling Everything”. I admit I am a bit of an IMDB junkie, the second I recognize a face, its straight to IMBD to figure out what else they were in. Similarly, if I forget a word, or statistic that I once new, Google is the first place I turn. This would probably take me five minutes of thinking, but why do that when I could pull it up in less than ten seconds? Why use brain power when I can just rely on the internet to think for me? I think this one is self explanatory, and I have since tried to put a few minutes of active thought into my own questions before I rely the all mighty Google to be my brain for me.

Those are my confessions, friends, I have a little (although I’m trying to be more mindful of it) bit of an internet dependancy. So, I’m wondering if anyone will fess up too? What is your bad technology habit?

Giving Thanks For Good Wine

So it’s that time of year again, when families gather ’round for Thanksgiving festivities; meals are served, and wine is poured in abundance (perhaps for the meal, perhaps to deal with the gathering of the family). For me, wine is an essential part of any Thanksgiving (for both reasons). But nothing can throw off a great turkey than a wine that tastes like turpentine, and this can easily happen with the wrong pairing. I’m a bit of a foodie, okay make that a lot of a foodie, and have developed a bit of an addiction to my favourite food ‘vlog’ Food Wishes. So in a nod to social media, I thought that I would share some Youtube recipes that I have had my eye on for the long-weekend, and some pairings that are sure to make both your tastebuds and your family happy.

Turkey & Chardonnay

A classic. This pair is a old as they come, but a true and proven delight. A buttery, chardonnay is a perfect companion for a savoury, oven baked turkey. The chardonnay has just enough acid to bring the often mild tasting bird to life, and to cut through the heavy gravy without feeling too heavy. cq5dam-web-1280-1280Chardonnays come both oaked and unoaked but for a turkey, oaked is always my go to. Pick one from California, I particularly love ones from the sunny, southern regions like Santa Barbara. Saturday is turkey day in my home and we will be sure to be opening this gem from Mer Soleil.

 

 

Prime Rib & Bordeaux

Just say “Prime Rib” to be and I’m shivering with excitement. This is easily my favourite food to cook, and I love it because it can pair fairly flexibly with a number of wine styles, cq5dam-web-1280-1280depending on how it is cooked. Personally, a good Bordeaux is always a safe bet, as they are generally a blend of Cabernet and Merlot, two grapes big enough to stand up to a nice big ‘hunk’ of meat. If you have the time to hunt one down, and don’t mind spending a couple extra dollars, look for a Pomerol – Merlot is the dominant grape here and gives a rich, velvety texture. Another great and budget friendlier choice is Saint-Emilion, another Merlot forward Bordeaux. Take a sniff, and see if you can smell any herb-y aromas, for me this pairs perfect with a great rosemary rub!

Cheese & Ice Wine

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Canada’s Ice Wine Pioneer, Inniskillin

I get a lot of funny looks for this for this but I’m really not a dessert food fan, but I do sometimes like something a little sweet at the end of a meal. My go to is Ice Wine and a couple of pieces of cheese (and some fruits too, because you know, it’s healthy and all). We are so lucky to live in one of the very few countries in the world that produce this liquid delicacy. Made from grapes that are frozen on the vine and pressed out and fermented to produce a sweet, vicious, alcoholic gold. Ice wine can pair nicely with a number of desserts, but for me a small glass with a plate of something rindwashed or slightly blue takes the cake over cake any day. Don’t like stinky cheeses? Test out a glass of ice wine with this stunning tartine.

Apple Pie & Moscato D’Asti

In spite of my aversion to dessert foods, there really cannot be a Thanksgiving post without mention of apple pie. My family are apple pie fanatics, and usually pair theirs with a big glass of ice cold milk. Do they go well together? Absolutely. Is milk half as fun as wine? Absolutely not. So we’re scraping the milk this year (at least for the grown-ups) and pairing up our holiday delight with a little Moscato D’Asti. unknownMoscato’s are crazy popular this year due to their extremely sweet nature and accessible price point, but beware some can toe the line of alcoholic syrup. Look specifically for ones from Italy, and even more specifically ones that are labeled Moscato D’Asti. These are lightly effervescent, sweet, and are brimming with flavours of peach and poached apple, giving your apple pie something to be thankful for.

I hope this guide helps to steer you in the right direction as we move closer to the holiday weekend- may your turkeys be juicy, prime ribs flavourful and pies flakey. However if this all fails, just remember to add more wine.

Wine-ing About Social Media

The wine industry is an incredibly fun industry to work in, it is an industry that typically denotes leisure time, cooking, and gathering with friends. But its also a subject that seemingly shrouded in a bit of mystery. Many people tell me they love wine, and when I ask what they love, they say something like “Umm red?”. Well, what kind? There are literally hundreds of types of red wine… “The yummy kind?” they supposed. What is yummy wine? ‘Yummy wine’ is an endlessly subjective term. So how can you determine what is yummy wine to you? Or how do you learn what to look for in the huge, beautiful sea of labels? Use social media, of course!

Figure Out What Flavours You Love

This can be tougher than it sounds. You often can tell that you love the flavour of something, but can’t quiet put your finger on what exactly it is that you love. Aroma charts can be a major asset. They give lists of flavours, and connect with with the wines they are

 

Different-Types-of-Wine-v2.jpgcommonly associated with. Pinterest is filled with endless amounts of these charts, that put some of the weirdest wine descriptors into easy to understand terms (Barnyard, anyone?). More over, many of these great pins will connect you with websites abundant in cool posts, such as this fabulous wine flavours chart from Wine Library.

Find a Writer You Love

Regularly, wine shops will post scores in front of their wines to encourage customers to purchase them. What do these scores mean? Honestly, to the everyday consumer, not a lot. I am often told that someone had purchased a bottle of wine because it said “95 Point” and got it home and had no clue why they didn’t like it. Let’s pretend that wine scoring is like Master Chef, and the contestants are cooking Eggplant Parmesan. The sauce must be done right, the cheese shaved right, and the eggplant cooked to the right texture. There are metrics to cook a perfect eggplant parm, but does that mean I’m going to like it? Heck no!

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It’s almost the same way with wine, there are metrics to a good Chianti, but that doesn’t mean that I’m going to love it just because it’s well made. With this in mind, there are times that these scores can point you in the right direction. As I said before, wine is highly subjective, and many critics will highly award wine styles that are to their flavour preference. One critic who is know for this is “The Million Dollar Nose” Robert Parker Jr, who has a loyal band of followers, sometimes jokingly called “Parker-ites”. Known for his love of big, full bodied, intense red wines, Mr. Parker often awards highly to wines falling into this category. For me, 95+ “Parker Points” is almost guaranteed pure, liquid gold. If a bottle has this esteemed designation, it’s a sure sell for me. Read reviews, and look for look for writers who seem to enjoy similar wines to you. A great place to find a quick feed of wine reviews? Twitter of course! Here are a sample of some great writers in-and-about the Twitterverse:

Facebook Your Favourite Winery

Because many wineries are still small businesses at heart, connecting with their customers is essential. Ontario is home to over 150 wineries, many of whom regularly connect with customers on their Facebook pages. Not only is this a great way for them to get feedback on their products, but it’s also a great way for them to advertise. But how does this help you?

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These pages are often brimming with tasting notes, invites to tasting events, and news about new products. If you happen to live, or visit any of Ontario’s wine regions, make sure you are connecting with places you are interested in, who knows you might even score a free invite!

So there you have it folks, some simple and free ways to connect you with a world of wine information, available to you at home (where you can learn with a glass in your hand).

Cheers everyone!

 

 

 

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