COM0015 – Blog Post #5 Event Participation

Leadership and Feminism

I attended an amazing luncheon on October 26th, 2016 at the Shaw Conference Centre.  Enbridge’s Famou5 – “Lunch with the Veteran, The General, The Chief, and The Commissioner” hosted by Women in Defence & Security and co-hosted by Enbridge.  The four amazing women were:

  1. Karen McCrimmon MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veteran’s Affairs.
  2. Lt Gen Christine Whitecross, Royal Canadian Airforce, OMM, MSM, CD
  3. Greta Bossenmaier, Chief, Communications Security Establishment, and
  4. Jody Thomas, Commissioner, Canadian Coast Guard.

The speakers were interesting and insightful and had much to say about being female in a senior leadership role in a male dominated environment.  These four amazing women all spoke about how being a woman allows us to bring a different and positive perspective to a problem or task.  They shared their anecdotes from their pasts when being a woman brought increased challenges to their positions and they shared how they chose to overcome those challenges.

I chose this event because I have been lucky enough to hear General Whitecross speak in the past and she absolutely captivates me. She embraces the differences and celebrates the uniqueness of what being a woman brings to the table. I believe that all women are leaders in their own right.  Whether they are at the most senior levels of government, on the front lines in a global conflict zone or simply trying to be a good leader and mentor within their own community. I aspire to improve in my role as a mentor to my daughter and to be a better advocate for Military Families in Ottawa.

I interacted with several people at the event. One interesting woman of note was a Retired Airforce Logistics Major.  She managed her own successful and busy career, was a great mentor to her two independent and educated daughters, supported military families while standing alongside her husband’s equally busy military career. I found her to be inspirational as she is starting over with her own business and exploring what she loves in her second career iteration.

I also met a fascinating lady that was also a former military member. She had gone to school for journalism and then joined the military as Public Affairs Officer, eventually becoming the editor of a prominent military publication.  She has subsequently gone on to be a speech writer for people at the top levels of government and business.

With both of these women we shared common experiences and struggles of supporting a family in a hectic military environment.  We also discussed reinvention and what it means to follow what truly makes you happy in your second career choice.

The older I get the more of a feminist I seem to be.  I am not sure if this comes with age or with the fresh eyes of being a mother of a young woman.  I will absolutely attend an event like this in the future as it was both inspirational and educational.

The luncheon was wonderful, I felt honoured to be around strength and wisdom. The general theme of the afternoon with these speakers was definitely about leading with humility, and looking after the people around you by building up your team.  Greta Bossenmaier stated “it’s as much about how we accomplish the objectives as much as what we accomplish”, but my favourite quote of the afternoon was when Karen McCrimmon quoted Jimi Hendrix: “Knowledge Speaks, Wisdom Listens”.

Post 4 – COM0015 – Out of the Box

Cartoon - Thinking outside the box

Being unaware of emerging trends can leave you in the dark.

What grabs your attention today may barely get a glance tomorrow. The need to stay fresh and interesting has always been important in marketing, regardless if you are selling a new cookbook, or promoting a non profit organization. With the exponential growth in new technology and information the demand for an innovative way of getting your message across comes fast and furious.

I would consider myself to be an avid consumer of Social Media. While I am inundated with images and videos all the time a few recent trends have grabbed my attention. Two applications and an emerging content trend:

Facebook Live – This application is very new. While it was released by Facebook in August of 2015 it wasn’t available to the average user until December of that year. It has had some very successful campaigns as well as some flops. The first time I was captivated by this application was when a local Ottawa DJ live-streamed his experiences with his Leukemia treatment. He explained what it was like going through an MRI machine with the assistance of a lego man, he took his fans through his hair loss, took questions about his cancer and even promoted National Nurses week and donations for the Fort McMurray Fire. Stuntman Stu is back at work at Majic 100, but continues to serve his community. Facebook Live was a new way for him to tell his story.

360 Video – This application is also quite new and very exciting. The first time I saw this was when a friend interviewed Paula Deen as she was supporting troops in Fort Hood, Texas. I had no idea what I was looking at and couldn’t figure out why the interviewer was pointing the camera at the table! 360 video has come a long way since that interview. The video has become immersive and beautiful. It is a great way to showcase the amazing and awe-inspiring. From Ballet, to Roller Coasters, to War. This media immerses you in the moment. Watch the Dutch National Ballet.

Link to ‘back to the basics’ – While this is not an application tool, this is an interesting movement in marketing today.  As our baby boomers have more disposable income and focus more on their health they are making a move to healthier choices. There has been an significant observable increase in marketing towards ‘Organic’, ‘Non-GMO’, ‘No-Hormones’, and even a back to basic Farming movement. Companies such as KFC Canada and Chipolte are using imagery of farming to bolster their brands. Chipolte has had a disastrous year with multiple health scares across the US and have used a beautiful back-to-basics sustainable farming video to indicate that they are starting fresh.

Summary – Marketing has always been on the hunt for a fresh way to tell the story. Social Media is just another tool in the toolbox, but with emerging technologies a successful marketer must stay abreast of the next best thing to grab and keep peoples attention.

 

 

 

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Post 3 – COM0015 – Professional Networking

Networking helps to put the pieces together.
Putting the Pieces Together

‘The more things change the more they stay the same’. This is a phrase that was coined in 1849 (source) and remains very true today. In spite of the technological world that we live in that reduces the virtual distance that exists between us – It does not change the fact that humans are social creatures. These technologies help to facilitate connections and community growth but people still need that face to face contact. In such a cluttered business and non profit environment – that personal interactive networking can mean everything.

My community is the Military Family Community. My role in this community is as a ‘seasoned’ spouse that has been through multiple deployments and long absences, many many moves, and even a three year posting separated from my husband for the sake of the kids. I feel that young people need an advocate and if I can assist in any way I would like to do that.

When we first moved to Ottawa I felt very isolated. We had always lived on Army bases where networking was built into daily life. Mess functions and Family days were frequent, and because the communities were so small, chances were that you were able to make an instant connection with your neighbour. The military community in Ottawa is spread across many communities without a vector for connection.

I stated a group. Military Families live on Facebook. The connection was easy. The group started small and has grown immensely, but what has made us different is the frequent meet ups that our group has. I organize monthly speaker breakfasts that are very well attended, welcome nights and games nights. All these events help people to find their way in their new community, assisting them to make connections of their own.

I started a blog. NoLifeLikeIt.com was born out of the group, designed to provide information to help families that was painfully lacking. Services and programs have been put in place to help but there hasn’t been a comprehensive way of getting this information to young families. This was the purpose of the blog.

Networking. in 2014 I was able to go to a True Patriot Love Conference on the Military Family. This was an exceptional two day forum that is still continuing to assist me moving forward with my group to this day. I was able to make many personal connections that have not only helped me with finding speakers for my group, but also to increase my credibility within my community. Once you have one federal director come to speak then it becomes easier to convince others that your group is worthwhile and that they should come to speak as well.  I would not have been able to get the Ombudsman’s office to come if I wasn’t able to say that we have already had Military Family Services, and Dependent Education Management.

Plan for the next 6 – 12 months. The group has become its own networking opportunity for the people that come to these events. I host speaker events once per month, and have social evenings 4 times per year. We also run coffee mornings and games evenings. These are already scheduled for the following year.

Personal growth. While networking within my existing community is wonderful, I feel that I need to continue to embrace new learning situations as they arise. I recently took a two day Mental Health First Aid course. This allowed me to meet people from the Mental Health Commission of Canada. I also attended the Military Mental Health Research Symposium, allowing me to meet people from the Personal Support Program as well as some defense research scientists. I would really like to attend the Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC) conference in July 2017 in Washington DC. Education for military families is sadly lacking as children are perpetually playing catch up as they move from one provincial curriculum to another. The MCEC conference will be a fantastic opportunity to learn how the United States has tackled this same problem.

I do not get paid for any of this so I am not sure it can be called ‘Professional’ Networking, but I have found that I seem to be fulfilling a niche within my community, and hopefully helping younger families navigate the rocky waters of a Military Life.

Post #2 – COM0015 – Strong and Weak Organizations

Post #2 – COM0015 – Strong and Weak Organizations

Social Media – Strong and Weak Organizations

don-draper-shrug

 

My teen-aged children do not watch TV.  They do not read newspapers or magazines.  They do not listen to the Radio. Don Draper’s tools no longer work in today’s society. My children are exceptionally well informed and they are savvy consumers. In order to be successful in today’s marketplace the business or organization needs to meet the consumer where they live.  If your target audience is younger then this likely means capitalizing on Instagram, YouTube, or Vine.  If your audience is older then you likely have to meet them on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Two Successful Social Media Campaigns

Michael’s – The Arts and Craft Store: Michael’s Stores are located in both Canada and the United States.  They are a publicly traded company currently worth 4.21 Billion USD.  Their clientele runs from the very young to the very old and they have an impressive Social Media presence.  Because they know their customer base demographic, they have targeted all mainstream social media platforms.  While they are not on Vine, they do have a presence on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn.

Crafting appeals to me because it is something that I have always loved, Michael’s makes it easy.  They deposit creative ideas on my Facebook news feed and they make these ideas appealing because they provide pictures and videos explaining just how easy the project is to do.  They have almost 26,000 pins on Pinterest making projects accessible, searchable and exciting.  They are good at promoting engagement as all of these posts are highly shareable within the crafting community.  Their mobile content is excellent and includes an app available for download that delivers a 40% off coupon directly to your phone that is scannable when you purchase your crafty goods. They even include WiFi in their stores so that you can access their mobile content. I believe that Michael’s commitment and investment in Social Media has contributed greatly to their success.

Guiding Mosaic 2016: Guiding Mosaic was a massive Girl Guides of Canada event that took place this past summer. These events only occur every 7 or 8 years and because of this it will occur only once during a girl’s guiding career.  The excitement and build up for this camp is hard to explain.  Billed as a ‘Once in a Lifetime Event’, almost 3000 girls spent two years fund raising with cookies, bottle drives, tee-shirts and other creative ideas to raise the money to go to Sylvan Lake, Alberta for 10 days in July.  My interest in this group is because my own daughter was one of those girls.  While this non profit, largely volunteer group did not have the same Social Media presence that Michael’s did, they did an amazing job with the resources that were available to them.

Because it was such a long process leading up to the camp (involving cases upon cases of tedious girl guide cookie sales) they were able to maintain excitement by involving the girls themselves. They had a presence on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Flikr, Instagram and YouTube.  They maximized engagement by involving the girls throughout the two year lead-up.  Girls were uploading content from around the country that included Camp Songs tutorials, craft swaps, and instructions on how to pack the perfect camp ruck sack.  As the camp got closer they awarded points for pictures of the girls packing with a hashtag #guidingmosaic, this encouraged further engagement.  Their website was mobile enhanced so it was easy as a parent to visit the site and see what they were doing each day. Finally they showcased the kids and staff.  The camp is now four months past and they are still uploading pictures to “Maintain the Awesome!”

Guiding Mosaic.jpg

A Weak Social Media Campaign

DND/CF Ombudsman:  The office of the Ombudsman is a place where the Canadian defense community can go for help.  They are outside of the chain of command and have direct access to the Minister of National Defense to make recommendations based on the feedback that they get from the people they serve. This organization is important to me as I am a passionate part of that community.

Because they are a community-driven organization I believe that they could greatly benefit from a comprehensive overhaul of their existing Social Media presence.  They currently utilize Twitter and You-Tube.  Their Twitter feed is amazing.  They publish great content several times per week, and have just over 2000 followers.  Their YouTube Channel has only 3 followers and content is sparse.

In the Social Media Examiner article that was assigned in lesson 3 of this course, Phil Mershon discusses how to best promote your organization.  A big part of this is increasing engagement and social sharing.  This is the perfect solution for this organization, particularly since the Ombudsman’s mandate is to understand and advocate for issues that affect the military.   While the twitter feed of  DND/CF Ombudsman office is a great start, it wouldn’t take much to enhance this by expanding to further platforms.  They are already spending the time and energy to create and share relivant content.  As discussed earlier it is important to understand your audience and go to them, not expect them to come to you. Within the military, people find support and community on Facebook because they are seldom near family.  Each base has multiple Facebook communities and there are several national groups that contain thousands of people.  This is where the Ombudsman’s office needs to live. With a simple expansion to Facebook alone they can ask questions, share resources, and listen to issues of the community that they serve – a community that is already motivated to engage.

Summary – Social Media is not just useful in a business, profit environment. While Michael’s demonstrates that a huge budget and marketing campaign can be highly successful I also believe that Social Media is the way forward for non-profit and government organizations to engage with the people they seek to serve.

 

 

COM0015 – Post 1 – Tools & Sources

COM0015 – Post 1 – Tools & Sources

Image courtesy of Canadian Armed Forces

Social Media Changed My Life

This is a dramatic statement but as a spouse of a serving member of the military it has been my lifeline since it’s inception.  Military Families are often alone and in new locations with out family or social support. Since 2007, participation by Military Spouses in online Facebook communities has exploded. (There are 4 groups in Ottawa alone with membership of of 1252) This has meant no matter where in the country or world you have been posted you always have your ‘peeps’.  Whether they are old friends or new.

Listening and Monitoring

Understanding your community is especially important when you are speaking about social support. A little time and effort spent listening is all one needs to do to keep your finger on the pulse of that communities specific and emerging needs.

Google Alerts – This is a great way to monitor announcements from the Department of National Defense, to watch for upcoming deployments, and exercises.  It is also a great way to keep your eye on what public and non public fund organizations are are doing with regards to Military Family social support.  The Military Family Resource Centres often host events and these are triggered by Google Alerts, but most family support has become organic.  Spouses supporting Spouses.

Facebook Search – Military Families congregate in ‘Secret’ Facebook groups, and because of this regular listening tools don’t necessarily work.  From a social support perspective, having access to these groups as a community member can provide invaluable information. Watching the message boards allows one to see very quickly and clearly, the issues facing military families today.  Using Facebook Search within these private groups can then allow the user to specifically search for relevant data.  Everything that Military Families deal with on a day to day basis is on offer, from PTSD to depression,  deployments to finding a family doctor.

News and Updates

While the evening news often headlines with images of our Canadian Armed Forces doing their jobs around the world, it is often highlighting images that sell news – capitalizing on the story of the day. While this is interesting it does not provide enough of the picture that I am looking for.  I get much of my news through Facebook and Twitter social media.

The West Block – Facebook.  I follow many political news feeds but I do find that The West Block provides a Canadian viewpoint.  When the decisions made in parliament today may directly affect my communities life it behooves me to keep track of what our political masters may have in store for us.  This site provides a uniquely Canadian perspective on world events.

DND/CF Ombudsman Twitter.  I find that this organization has a fantastic Twitter presence but unfortunately no Facebook presence.  I do enjoy the information they share on Twitter as they are good at informing their followers of ongoing issues that affect not only Canadian soldiers, sailors, and airmen,  but also their families.  They address specific problems related to life in the service and what is being done to address these issues.

Social media changed my life.  Sharing a common experience is part of any community. Making social connections in new communities can difficult but Social Media has enabled the rapid sharing of information, both on a personal level as well as a political level. When people are armed with information and social support they are surprisingly resilient.

Blog Post #7 – COM0014

What did I learn during this course?

Story Telling has been done through the ages.  During the Stone Age people told stories around the fire and drew pictures on cave walls.  As time marched on people continued to be story tellers, this time on paper.  We now tell stories electronically.  In some ways nothing has really changed.  Good story telling will always draw in your audience.

If it is a really good story it may even be shared through the centuries:Shakespeare.jpg

It is perhaps a bit glib to compare social media to Shakespeare, but human nature hasn’t changed through the ages.  We are all attracted to a good tale, to something that we can reflect upon and to which we can relate.

This course has boiled down the essence of what makes social media communication successful.  The stress has always been on producing relevant and shareable content.  If you have a true understanding of the topic you will always be seen as more authentic.   If you have spent your life studying and have a passion for organic nutrition you should probably stay away from writing about greasy spoons in the Mid West.  Knowing your subject well is important and marginal content will be obvious to your readers and will not be shared.

Good content is important but it is also imperative to evaluate your who your audience is and write accordingly.  Knowing your target audience not only allows you to write in a specific way but also allows you to promote your content in the right location.  If you have a passion for 1950’s muscle cars you aren’t likely to promote your blog in ‘Green Ottawa’. It is important to listen to your community and take opportunities to write and share to the right people.

This course has also allowed me to be reflective upon my own personal brand and what it means to be a Military Spouse.  This is the area that I feel I know best.  I write a blog about what it is like to be a spouse and that is my audience.  There are so many stories to tell and my audience has amazing strength.  I am lucky…

Story writing has been around forever.  We simply write in a different way now.  The stories are the same because people are the same.

Blog #6 – COM0014

“What is my favourite customer story?”  Blog #6 asks us to answer this question. I don’t have customers per se but I do have a great deal of respect for the people that read my blog.

Military Sister Wives

It is so easy in the Military Lifestyle to focus on the negatives.  Let’s face it.  There are a lot of negatives – moves, single careers, deployments and stress.  What strikes me about these families, these women, is how strong they are.  But this strength comes from the community.  We keep each other afloat.

When we were posted to Edmonton my husband deployed to Afghanistan. This tour was different than the ones that had come previously. It was early days and this one felt sour from the beginning.

There are several things that a Military Spouse is awesome at (or at least does begrudgingly):

  1. Pick up a home and move it across the country – most often with only a few months’ notice.
  2. Is capable of meeting new friends quickly – forming deep bonds in an unnatural time frame.
  3. Supports chaos at home (new schools, new friends, deployed parent).

But there is one thing that has always astounded me. The military spouse seems to cope with an inner voice at the back of her head that says ‘at least I am not her‘. In the military there is always somebody within an arm’s reach that has more children, less family support, an illness, a worse location, a husband deployed longer or worst of all (in my mind)… a husband outside the wire patrolling villages or disarming IED’s.

Back to that posting in Edmonton:

I was a Beaver Leader for my son’s Beaver Colony. Each week we would pass through the halls of the local Military Family Resource Centre to reach the community room that played host to 14 very active little boys. The kids would race past reception with their little beaver hats and their little beaver tails oblivious to the table with a condolence book. Someone’s lost Dad, a photo, a book and a pit in my stomach. The next week there were 3 lost Dads, 3 photos, and 3 books. The following week seven…

Military friends are different. They get you through things that only another military spouse would ever understand. The joys are wonderful, the shared pregnancies and births, celebrations, book clubs and lots of wine. The agony of leaving those friends when you embark on a new adventure is enormous. The bonds are so deep and precious and there is a strength and resiliency that is difficult to break. My military friends are more than my friends. They are my sisters.

 

 

COM0014 – Blog Post #5

My Own Personal Brand

I believe that Personal Brand is more important than ever for military spouses. Like many others I have had to reinvent myself because of the transient nature of our lifestyle. One microbiologist friend of mine with a penchant for home decorating has turned her small blog into a business with a Facebook following of over 16,000 people simply because there were no jobs in her field in the small town in which they were posted. Her Personal Brand has become her livelihood.

Citing my own Personal Brand is an uncomfortable exercise. It is always easier to build others up than to spout your own attributes. I think if I were to produce a mission statement for what I am doing; it would be “To increase military family’s quality of life by assisting them to navigate the resources available to them using social media as a vector.”

Three years ago I started a Facebook page for Military Spouses; we started small with a simple desire for fellowship. My secret group is location specific and has grown to over 440 members. On top of arranging pub nights, knitting mornings and other meetings, I also arrange speakers for large breakfasts in order to help the members understand what benefits they may be missing and what pitfalls they can avoid. Because of this, I decided to begin a blog to compliment the group and to showcase these issues to the greater Canadian Forces population. It is small but growing with over 250 Facebook followers. (My Blog: No Life Like It)

I believe that within this tight knit community personal integrity is very important. Genuineness, honesty, positivity, and a willingness to listen and engage have made my group successful. Because I have lived the military family life for the past 25 years that included multiple deployments I am also a trusted member of the community.

A recent proud moment was finding myself on the Senators Jumbotron. Imagine! A surprise visit by the hockey mascot organized by another spouse. No make-up but it was a great cause!

Click here to see the Jumbotron Video

 

 

Com0014 – B2C case Study

WestJet_logo_rgb

West Jet has always had an interesting relationship with its customers.  Since it’s inception in 1996 they have always bucked the perception that they were big business. Beginning with the unusual concept that each employee was also an owner and personally invested in making your flight a better and more fun experience.

Flying West Jet was a completely unique experience from the beginning.  With hilarious flight attendants and early amateur viral videos they were off to a good start.

In recent years West Jet have become experts at engagement with social media.  Beginning with their highly shareable and feel-good Christmas videos that include telling Santa what you want at your departure destination, a fun and frantic shopping trip by many employees to deliver the gifts at the arrival destination.  The video was a huge success and has had almost 45 million views.  Not bad for a little airline from Canada.  After launching a similar campaign in 2013 West Jet bookings increased by 77% and revenue rose 86% (Globe and Mail Report on Business)

Another more serious example of West Jet’s exceptional use of Social Media came last summer when the airline experienced four bomb threats in just five days. This had the potential to be a disaster for the company, but instead they managed the crisis with extraordinary finesse.  They wasted no time and communicated directly with their consumers via twitter.  They shared as much information about the bomb threats as possible so that the customer felt that they were in the loop.  They were actively reassuring their customers and  responding to their fears quickly and personally.  This form of crisis management allowed them to tell the world that:  Safety was their top concern and that they were committed to being completely open with the travelers that use their airline (marketingmag.ca).  All this projected their brand values of safety, honesty, open communication and keeping commitments.

West Jet continues to master social media engagement.

 

 

COM0014 – Blog #3

Photo copyright 2009, Caroline Philips, The Ottawa Citizen

Photo copyright 2009, Caroline Philips, The Ottawa Citizen

I was recently lucky enough to attend an event where Maureen McTeer and her daughter Catherine Clark were speaking about Gender Equity in Canada. (Maureen McTeer is a highly esteemed women’s advocacy Lawyer, author of several books, and the wife of former Prime Minister Joe Clark. Catherine Clark is a speaker and television journalist.) The conversation was exceptional. How far we’ve come, the fight for equal rights and how far we have left to go. As women. As people.

As I sat in the audience I watched the interaction between these two fascinating women. Maureen McTeer exudes strength.  She is strong, exceptionally intelligent, well spoken and fearless.  Her daughter Catherine is strikingly beautiful, also exceptionally intelligent, eloquent, and confident.  What struck me was the tenderness between the two them. Catherine clearly looked up to her mother, and Ms. McTeer often looked out at the audience to her daughter for affirmation about the ‘youth’ perspective.  She looked out at her with great respect.

This blog isn’t about Gender Equality in Canada. This blog is about mentorship and what we teach our girls by how we live our lives. Catherine Clark is a likely a strong woman because of, in part, her exceptional Mother. Ms. McTeer has shown by example that education, advocacy, and strength are qualities that make a woman beautiful.

I follow my husband around the country in a 1950’s construct.  I have long ago given up my own career.  Moves every two years to follow the army have made that virtually impossible. I am ok with this.  We have a strong nuclear family.  I am involved in my community, I volunteer, I advocate for my kids, and I support, but I also wonder…  Am I showing my daughter that she can be all that she can be since I am ‘just a housewife’?

Since that day I have done a lot of self-reflection. I had a very strong Mother. She was a career woman, I was proud to be around her and admired the choices she made. I do think that being a mentor to your daughter means different things to different people.  I do not have a big career (or any for that matter) but I do try to show my daughter what it means to be a strong, confident woman, as my mother showed me.Mom and I

Leadership, advocacy, support – are all exceptional qualities that Military spouses adopt in their daily lives. I think we can be good mentors even without that career that we have given up. I can only hope that one day, my daughter will look up to me as I did to my Mother and it appears that Catherine Clark looks up to hers.