COM0015 – Blog #1: How I Like To Monitor And Follow The News

1 – How I like monitoring

When it comes to monitoring, I have found Google Alerts to be very effective, along with Feedly, for RSS feeds.

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Images: Pixabay

After spending some time setting up alerts to ensure they will be relevant, once I start receiving them, I feel like an advisor is keeping me regularly informed about topics I want to follow.

Briefings on the go that save my time

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Image: Pixabay

I do not need to “chase” the content: it comes to me, even when I am on the go, sorted according to criteria I had carefully selected myself. As an individual or small business, I find these two tools very convenient for monitoring.

Google Alerts and the RSS feeds also allow me to save time. By having the information pushed to me by email or via screen notifications, I don’t have to spend as much time searching. As an individual, I feel I am able to keep on top of issues that matter to me most in a cost-effective way.

2 – My two best sources of news

I am particularly interested in economics and finance, both personally and professionally.

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Image: Pixabay

WSJ App

I like the Wall Street Journal’s application, including their podcasts and blogs. I trust their reporting and find it a reliable source of news. It is a must-have both personally and for my job.

I appreciate their notifications, especially when I wake up in the morning, allowing me to catch up with the most important developments in my field.

The downside is that it is limited to a single source of news.

Twitter

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Image: Pixabay

For a broader view of the news, I also use Twitter, since most politicians, economic think tanks, banks, corporations and influencers in the field I am interested in have a Twitter account, including the WSJ.

This allows me to have a good overview of news from various sources. When I see something interesting, I actually open the link that takes me to the appropriate website where I can spend more time reading the story.

The downside is that “fake” news or unchecked sources make their way, requiring more vigilance.

There are many other sources I like, but I would be curious to hear about yours.

COM0014 – Blog #7 – The importance of storytelling for digital content

How good storytelling drives good digital content

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Listing product specifications, price discounts or service descriptions is not nearly enough to keep an existing or potential customer engaged.

The course taught me that people want an “experience” they can relate to. For instance, Red Bull is not selling its energy drinks on social media, but sharing an “extreme” experience through storytelling using words, videos and pictures that its young and dynamic audience identifies with.

Images: Yali N’Diaye, Pixabay free stock

And while each story creates a unique experience, they all reflect the identity of the brand. This identity keeps consistency across all content and platforms.

Attracted by the brand’s identity or “personality”, the audience keeps coming back for more of these unique experiences that stimulate emotions. The audience remains engaged, enabling the brand to create a long-lasting connection.  This connection sets the foundation for a trustful relationship that will eventually evolve the reader into a customer.

This is why good storytelling is so important to impactful digital content.

My story

Images: Pixabay (left), Pexels (right) – free stocks

In my case, it is the story of a frustrated adult ballet dancer trying to change the adult ballet scene in Ottawa.

My blogs, videos and pictures will all share different experiences reflecting various situations. But my identity and values will transpire in all of them, even if the channels might evolve with the feedback I receive from the audience.

The audience, I hope, will recognize its own values, relate to the various experiences, and be enticed to share its own views and engage in ways that will move the needle in Ottawa’s adult ballet class scene.

It will be authentic unique content with shared purpose and values.

How will you use your newly acquired knowledge?

COM0014 – Blog #6: I’m an adult and I do ballet…or can I?

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Photo: Yali N’Diaye

A frustrated adult ballet dancer

Dance is what I do. Not as a school student, although I graduated in ballet from conservatory near Paris, France. Not as a job either, although I used to perform professionally in the U.S.

Ballet is my favourite hobby and has always been part of my life, in Paris, Washington, DC or NYC. In Ottawa, however, this part of my life has dramatically changed. Finding a decent advanced ballet class for adults has been quite a frustrating journey.

Adults are either considered as total beginners or as people looking for some exercise. This translates into adult classes that give a taste of ballet or ballet “workouts” such as ballet barres. As if no sane adult could enjoy ballet the way they would enjoy the gym.

 

Images: Pixabay (left) and Pexels (right)

On a mission to improve adult ballet offerings in Ottawa

But I want to change that.

 

 

Images: Yali N’Diaye (left), Pexels (right)

So now I am on a mission to try ballet studios in Ottawa and share my experiences with an audience of adult ballet dancers ranging from beginners to advanced and professionals. I will raise the issue with each ballet studio I go to. I will gather momentum through my blog and, hopefully, encourage many adult ballet dancers to return to dance studios and request more advanced classes.

Eventually, I hope to form a group big enough to encourage the opening of new adult ballet classes for all levels, especially advanced dancers whose momentum was stopped by a lack of opportunities.

Are you ready to go back to dance?

COM0014 – Blog #5: Yali Inc: A world of passion and dedication

This is how my brand would be summarized in a picture:

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Image: Yali N’Diaye

Values: Passion and dedication

Passion and dedication are present in everything I do. More precisely, passion has allowed me to be dedicated in all areas of my life. That’s how fortunate I have been.

It all started with a passion for ballet and writing, which led me from France, to the U.S., and Canada.

The professional side

 

 

Writing has always been a passion. So once I graduated with a master’s in international banking and finance, I was thrilled to be able to write about a topic I had always found fascinating: economics and finance. When I started as a journalist for an American financial newswire in Paris, I understood the opportunity wouldn’t come twice.

As a French native speaker, my English needed tremendous work to reach American journalistic standards. But when passion is there, learning becomes a privilege. I put in a lot of work and this dedication paid off when I was trusted to move to Washington, DC, and then Ottawa, Canada.

Now, as a business communicator, writing is one of the favourite parts of my job. But learning the strategic aspect of communication is truly fascinating. Here too, dedication is my saviour.

The personal side

 

Images: Yali N’Diaye

When work took me to Washington, DC, where I immediately joined a dance studio, I was fortunate to be spotted by a director who asked me to join her dance company, doing neoclassical work.

Getting offered the opportunity, however, didn’t come by pure chance. I started dancing at the age of 5 and trained extensively at the conservatory near Paris, France, reaching a level that took me beyond just hobby. A lot of tears and dedication went into this training. But today, I am very proud of what I have accomplished. It is part of my identity.

Understanding the importance of having a passion, I have also been dedicated to my son’s ski training, such an important part of his own identity. Being a dedicated mom has yielded the greatest satisfaction of all.

COM0014 – Blog Post #4 – Red Bull Speaks Its Audience Language

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Image: Pixabay free stock

My 13-year old son is an avid freestyle skier who is just as active in real life as on social media. I saw him ask questions to Full Tilt Boots (outdoor sporting goods) on Instagram, which answered pretty quickly. Full Tilt Boots and Lines, a ski brand, both liked some of my son’s ski videos, which made him feel really proud. In fact, for this season, my son asked if he could be equipped by these 2 brands.

Clearly, social media interactions worked. But my son is also one of Red Bull’s 12 million Instagram followers worldwide, while he never asks to buy these energy drinks. So I decided to study this brand to better understand why it would benefit from my son following it without selling its drink.

Focus on the experience: Young and furious

 

 

Images: Pixabay free stock

According to Pew Research Center, 85% of teens use YouTube, 72% use Instagram, 69% Snapchat, 51% Facebook, and only 32% use Twitter.

Red Bull is active on all these platforms and even offers specialized channels on YouTube by type of sport, including Red Bull Snow.

The content is about the adrenaline experience in various forms: on snow, in the water, in the air, dancing. It is never about selling the drink. The young crowd can identify to their favourite athletes, skiers, sports, attend Red Bull events in their real world knowing it will be exciting and fun, transferring the fun from social media to their own reality.

The strategy is successful: Red Bull has 48 million followers on Facebook, 12 million followers on IG, nearly 9 million subscribers on YouTube, with thousands of views, likes and shares, providing outstanding brand awareness in the target audience: 16- to 30-year olds. This translates into dollars, with revenues up 8% in 2018 to USD6.5 billion, making the Austrian brand that “gives you wings” the 71st most valuable in the world.

Do you interact with brands on social media?

COM0014 – Blog Post #3 – Audience Target: Ballet Isn’t Just For Little Girls

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Photo: Yali N’Diaye

Project

My favourite hobby is ballet and I have danced my whole life. But in Ottawa, I have been discouraged by the low quality and high cost of ballet classes offered to adults, which are generally geared towards beginners, as suggested by the results of searches on Twitter, Facebook, and Google. Frustration around adult ballet is not just an Ottawa thing, as a recent article in Dance Magazine suggests. In Ottawa, however, it is aggravated by the lack of options relative to large cities like Toronto.

So I am creating a blog to raise awareness locally through relevant and engaging content, and eventually build up momentum for a better choice of adult ballet classes in Ottawa.

Audience demographics

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Image: Pexels Free Stock Photo

Given the purpose of the blog, adults are the primary audience, regardless of ethnicity.

 

The age range is between 25 and 80, based on my lifelong experience in ballet studios abroad and in Ottawa.

The audience is overwhelmingly composed of women, but should not exclude men.

Audience Psychographics

The blog is geared towards university students, working professionals, as well as retirees.

This is generally an active population, which would be interested in reviving their ballet skills, start their dream of learning ballet or practice ballet at an advanced level.

Communication tools and strategy

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WordPress Blog

The main element of the strategy would be a blog with relevant content, such as the Adult Ballet Hub, and have it referenced on Facebook and Meetup.com.

Facebook Group

I would create a Facebook (FB) Group for Ottawa adult ballet, as adults are particularly active on  (FB). Research indeed suggests this would be the best platform to reach my audience target, including older adults. It would be the primary platform linking to the blog. FB is a good place to compare experiences through comments and sharing relevant content seen elsewhere. Adult Ballet Diaries, with more than 3k followers, is a good example.

Meetup.com

I would also create an Ottawa Adult Ballet Group on Meetup.com as another way to assess local interest and be proactive in the dance community in Ottawa. I would include links to the FB Group and the blog.

Measurement

Success would be measured by the degree of engagement via post shares, likes and comments on FB.

The progression in the number of followers on FB and members on Meetup.com would also be a relevant measure of success, as would participation in Meetup.com meetings.

Would you have picked different platforms? I would love to her your suggestions!

 

COM0014 – Blog #2: Storytelling: Not Just About Telling

 

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Image: Pixabay (free stock)

If there is one takeaway from course material, online reading and my own experience as a journalist, it is that there is more to storytelling than just telling the story. Whom you tell it to, how you tell it and what reaction you want to trigger are all important parts of the equation.

Here is my take on storytelling:

  • Listen first: audience matters
  • Tell your story: style matters
  • Engage: relevance matters
  1. Listen Before You Tell

Whatever message you want to share, however good your story is, if you fail to listen first and identify your audience, you risk sending the wrong information to the wrong people the wrong way. Intuitively, this isn’t the destination a story is aiming at.

When you miss your target – your audience – this is what you could get:

disengaged student PixabayImage: Pixabay (free stock)

  1. Tell your story

 

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Image: Pixabay (free stock)

Assuming you are sharing your message with the right audience, you need to present it in an attractive way. This starts with a proper communication style.

To take your readers from glancing through your content to inspiring them to form their own ideas, you need them to understand you.

The best way to help them understand is to guide them through your thoughts.

Clear thoughts alone are not enough, however.

Clarity of style is a must: you need the right words in the right place, spelled correctly in a grammatically correct sentence.

That leads you to the right story, the right audience, and the right style. This applies to podcasts or videos as well.

  1. Engage

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Image: Pixabay (free stock)

Because you know your audience, your story is relevant to them, making it more engaging.

Another way to engage your audience is to use your own authentic voice. It will be easier for them to relate to you.

Now, it would be nice to amplify your voice and share your story with an even bigger community.

You already have your audience’s attention.

If you want to spread your message, make it easy for them to share. Use available tools such as ShareThis.

Finally, adding a call to action like asking a well-thought question will encourage feedback and engagement from your audience.

So the storytelling equation is really not a one-way journey: you listen, you tell, you engage, your listeners share, they comment, and you keep current with their interests.

What are your best tips for storytelling?

COM0014 – BLOG #1: Stuck in Ottawa for Summer? Enjoy!

 

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Photo: Yali N’Diaye

The failed plan

I had great plans for the summer of 2019: my mother was visiting from Paris, France, I was going to indulge on a trip to Washington, DC to see some of my best friends, and take as many ballet classes as I could while my son would be away in August after a series of active camps in July.

Well, that was the plan.

Until my mother broke her shoulder, and I canceled the trip to Washington, DC, and my super active teenage son strained his ankle, leading to the cancellation of these camps where I had hoped for him to spend all of his enormous amount of energy.

So here I was: stuck in Ottawa with my active son temporarily grounded by his own actions, and my mother temporarily losing much of her independence.

But one of the biggest lessons I have learned in life is to adapt, no matter how exciting your initial plans were. Even better: make the best of your circumstances. For me, that meant enjoying my staycation in Ottawa.

I went on a discovery mission to uncover places and activities in and around Ottawa that three generations could enjoy, preferably together.

Below are some of my favourite findings.

The Pond: in Rockliffe

Surely, Ottawa offers some beaches you can enjoy in the summer under the attentive eye of lifeguards. All for free. These include Mooney’s Bay, Brittany beach and its playground, Aylmer Marina and its stand up paddling possibilities, or Westboro beach, with its Café offering live music certain evenings.

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Photo: Yali N’Diaye – Westboro Beach

Yet the Ottawa River water quality is not always reliable and its beaches not always quiet.

So what if you wanted some free clean water and some quiet time in a peaceful surrounding?

The answer is the Pond.

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Photo: Yali N’Diaye – The Pond (Rockliffe)

This swimming hole is located in the Rockliffe Park neighbourhood, in Caldwell-Carver Conservation Area. Swimming is allowed only from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

There are a number of other conservation areas in Ottawa that can be browsed here.

Centre Touristique du Lac-Simon

lac simonPhoto: Yali N’Diaye – Centre touristique du Lac-Simon

A 90-minute drive from Ottawa, on the Québec side, you can enjoy the Centre touristique du Lac-Simon in different ways.

In addition to the long beach offering trampolines and slides, this place offers many water activities. For those looking for an active but quiet time, there are plenty of hiking possibilities around as well. You can also go biking with one of their rental bikes.

Best of all, in my view, is that you can make it a day trip or a camping trip, bringing your own tent or renting their cabins, fully benefitting from any long weekend.

Andrew Haydon Park

Andre Hayden Park

Photo: Yali N’Diaye – Andrew Haydon Park

Ottawa offers escapes for a quick break during the daytime in a number of parks. This year, I discovered Andrew Haydon Park, off of Carling Avenue. It really feels like an escape from the city just off one of  its big avenues.

By the time I discovere this park, my son’s ankle was mostly healed, so he brought his scooter. For younger kids, there is a SplashPad and a playground.

This year was also the 2nd edition of the Ottawa Kite Festival.

 

The Yard

Not all activities have to revolve around water.

When my son was ready for action again, and the weather was not cooperative, I was happy to find Ottawa’s recently open indoor skate park: The Yard.

This was a blessing for us because up until now, the only place that we could go to in the winter or on rainy days, and that would also provide lessons for freestyle scootering, would the Le Taz, in Montréal.

The Yard is more modest, but so is the population in Ottawa. My son loves heading there and hang out with friends, and is already among « the regulars ». He is 13, so I can just drop him off for a few hours while I enjoy a walk along the Ottawa River…until, perhaps, I take on scootering!

Escape Manor

Escape Manor is also a good alternative for teenagers (and adults). I took my son and his friend to the one in Hintonburg, and they really enjoyed it.

Just choosing the theme was an activity in and of itself!

And because of the several other locations across town, it remains a go-to solution to get out of home that will last for a few years. Not to mention that each trip there doesn’t guarantee the mystery be solved.

I discovered many more places this summer, like Merrickville, where the incentive for my son was to try some delicious ice cream at Downtowne Ice Cream Shoppe; the city is very unique and offers a different access to the canal locks than the more famous locks at the bottom of  Château Laurier. We saw other locks at Ottawa’s very own Long Island!

Do you know places that would be interesting for teenagers in and around Ottawa? I’d love to hear about it!

Yellow Vests : Is There A Pilot in the Plane ?

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Screen Shot of #GiletJaune Account on Twitter

If you don’t know what the yellow vests (“gilets jaunes”) are, here is a recap: it is a movement started in France in October on social media to oppose another tax increase on gas at the pump. Since then, demands have multiplied and the movement has not faded, leading to the announcement of new measures on Dec. 10 by President Emmanuel Macron, who so far had remained silent. Now, the ball is back in the yellow vests’ camp.

As I have been observing this movement in my home country, the most basic question struck me: who is the yellow vests representative?

I would like to talk about how the movement took off and became so successful on social media, and how its lack of structure could kill it, perhaps via social media.

  1. The Rising Tide

In October, a woman named Jacline Mouraud posted a video on her Facebook page to express her frustration about increasing taxes in France, especially on gas at the pump, calling viewers to either join her or do their own video to protest excess taxation.

Video from Jacline Mouraud’s FB Page: Coup de geules de jacline mouraud #macron #cnews #bfmtv #lci #franceinfo

The video went viral and soon a “Mouvement National Contre la Hausse du Carburant” (National Mouvement Against Higher Gasoline Prices) was born. The media called participants the “yellow jackets”.

Protests have been organized via social media, mainly Facebook, with the first one on Nov. 17.

A testament to the success of the movement, opposition parties, students, and even retirees tagged on to it and the rest of Europe did more than taking note, with the unrest spreading to cities such as Sofia (Bulgaria) and Brussels (Belgium).

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Pixabay images –  EU Flag

  1. Where is The Pilot?

Such a success led the French government to grant a meeting with some of the movement’s participants.

But this is where the lack of structure and organization of the movement caught up with realities of life: the representatives of the government cannot not meet with a “movement”. They need to meet with designated people representing that movement. Not to mention that demands have exploded from one to more than 40.

Some personalities stood out and eventually met with the government. But there still isn’t any clear voice and face of the movement.

Today, as a reporter, if I wanted to interview a representative of the movement to get a single message, I could not. I would have to speak with several people, with a multitude of interests, leaving anger as the only common place.

  1. Do yellow vests need an election?

The movement did obtain results nonetheless.

On Dec. 5, Macron cancelled the tax increase on gas prices for 2019. On Monday, the president announced other measures to boost low incomes.

Such concessions from the government could be a measure of success. Yet, protests continue.

But so does chaos in the organization of the movement.

The longer the yellow vests will take to find a common voice expressed through a legitimate representative, the more time detractors – fake news, violent protestors, opposition parties – will have to divide or manipulate both participants in the movement and the population more broadly.

This tells me that movements originating on social media could die by social media if they fail to get structured.

That means the plane needs a pilot ASAP if the movement wants to last in a democracy and maintain its credibility, perhaps through elections.

Do you think there should be an elected representative of the movement in your view?

And if so, is it a good idea to organize elections on Facebook to elect a representative?

 

twitterCan #GiletsJaunes movement last without changes? Here is what I think: bit.ly/2RV60tL

img_0035-1 Have you heard of the GiletsJaunes movement in France? Can it last without structure? Share your side here: bit.ly/2RV60tL

Does Social Media Deepen Political Divide?

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Photo: Yali N’Diaye – Voting poll in Washington, DC

Politicians are increasingly using social media to reach out to (potential) voters. In and of itself, this is just an evolution of communications strategies that leverage new tools and take advantage of the cheap and direct access to the public. There is nothing wrong about this. To the contrary, especially when the public’s feedback is taken seriously.

From this standpoint, social media should, in fact, cement relationships between decision makers and the public, and foster understanding between people with diverging views. Ultimately, such exchanges should help resolve divides in a society and move towards solutions that favor a more harmonious cohabitation of the different views.

Missed opportunity

That would be in a perfect world where the race for power and party interests would not take over the good of the nation as a whole.

The diversity of parties and ideas is a good thing for democracy. But when parties themselves only play the blame game without offering clear and inspiring visions, and polarize the debate, they drive the population to extremes with them, even without social media.

The U.S. divided Congress’ inability to come together in 2011 to find a plan to reduce deficits was the first reason for the country to lose its AAA rating, meaning everyone pays a higher price for it. S&P Global then said “the downgrade reflects our view that the effectiveness, stability, and predictability of American policymaking and political institutions have weakened.”

Since then, things have worsened. The use of social media has greatly spread within government, but the polarization of politics has translated into polarized exchanges online.

In my view, this has been a missed opportunity for politicians to show how they could rise above divisions for the good of all, instead of transferring their fights onto platforms where informed and uninformed views cross paths, rarely leading to constructive exchanges, and often even deepening divides.

Populations are chiming in, often with little knowledge or research effort, providing emotional opinions, if not straight insults.

Here is a Tweet from Donald Trump (@realdonald) in 2015 in response to the terrorist attack on French weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo, and some reactions at the bottom:

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Photo: Screen shot of @realdonald (Donald Trump) account

Growing divisions

Such a tweet could only encourage strong reactions charged with emotion, in support or against it.

Social media also contributes to the prominence of image over substance as platforms don’t lend themselves to in-depth discussion given the limited space on Twitter or blogs that cater to a society with limited attention span when it comes to reading.

Just like in real life, people tend to gravitate around like-minded people, limiting their exposure to one side of the political spectrum. But on social media, the proliferation of news, fake or real, amplifies this one-sided view. Such “echo chambers”, according to a research published in the scientific journal PNAS

http://www.pnas.org/content/115/37/9216, prevents “people from being exposed to information that contradicts their preexisting beliefs.”

Can it be fixed?

Social media does offer opportunities for movements to emerge and bring the debate forward, such as the #MeToo movement, that is actually forcing change in organizations, including in the political sphere.

So there is positivity on social media. However, how to make two opposite movements actually talk to each other to find common ground?

How to leverage social media so that they can foster a more constructive dialogue among people with diverging views? Should politicians give the example first?

 

footerTwitterTwitter:

Can social media foster #dialogue in a world of political #divide? See what I think bit.ly/2Rs4Q8U

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Does social media deepen political divide? See more at bit.ly/2Rs4Q8U and share your views!