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

Mom & Daughter Vacay

gray plane wing

Photo by Pixabay on

You know it’s time for a vacation with your teenager when you hardly spend anytime together because they want nothing to do with you anymore. Do you have a teenage son or daughter? My teen daughter’s recent developmental milestone of asserting her independence has manifested itself by basically avoiding spending time with my husband and I, and spending all her time with her iPhone & friends. That’s it! – we’re toast – we are so. not. cool. plus we’re annoying and cringy to boot. But I didn’t let that stop me! Before we loose the connection with her completely, there must be something we can do to get her excited about spending time together. Given that my husband was too busy with work, I thought that a summer vacation abroad, just her and I, may be the best thing for us! I was on a mission: I jumped on google flights and researched fares and schedules to Europe. I jumped on Facebook messenger and started coordinating availability with friends and family. Before we knew it, we were making our packing lists and finalizing our itinerary. School was out and the next day, we were boarding a plane!


Two weeks can go by so fast. We landed in Amsterdam, stayed with relatives for 4 days and visited the countryside and the city. I highly recommend the canal cruise if you don’t have a lot of time to spend visiting the city. Had a blast here catching up with my relatives – which for my daughter was the #FirstTimeEver meeting them! We toured the countryside together to see the famous windmills, canals, typical bridges, small quaint villages and even a castle. Did you know that the Netherlands is below sea level? You can really see this while driving on small country roads along the dykes; you’re literally below sea level! Then we took off to Brussels to stay with a friend for 4 days, and in between popped in to Paris for an overnight. The highlight was a “VIP walking tour” of Paris and seeing the Eiffel tower lit up up at night. Back to Brussels to finish off seeing the sites and then off again to visit Brugges for 3 days. We stayed in my friend’s country house – a 19th century home nestled in a quaint tree lined property 10 minutes away from the city centre. Did you know that Brugges is nicknamed the Venice of The North because of all its canals? We loved checking out the Saturday morning farmer’s market, walking around the mideaval town, having meals on a terrasse overlooking a canal and taking a side trip to the sea. It was hard to leave but we had to go back to Brussels for one more night and flew home the next day.

eiffel tower at night

Photo by Mischa C. on

Are you planning a trip to Europe anytime soon? If you are, would you move around and visit as many places as we did, or would you limit the places you visit so you can take the time to chill a little? If you have the energy, you can easily visit many countries in Europe as they’re all very close distance from one another and the train travel is so smooth and fast. But it is very expensive and that can be stressful. I think we may have done a little bit too much. In my opinion, you need to take the time to chill more when travelling with a teenager as they need the time to catch up with their friends on social media and put up their feet. Personally, next time, I would want to visit one or two spots in a 2 week period such as Brugges and the sea side.

COMM0015 – Blog #1 – Maybe I should

Let’s be real honest here, I have not yet taken the habit of listening/monitoring social medias very seriously. Two reasons motivates this; 1 – At work there is a team dedicated to this and 2 – For my side business as a photographer, I am not currently looking for more work and can afford the luxury of choosing the assignments I want to take on, and, thanks to a permanent job within government, I am also fine with not having any.

Luckily for me, the photography industry is out there in almost every platforms and it remains fairly easy to stay on top of things by following my favorite photographers and gear manufacturer on Facebook and Instagram and still remain aware of what is going on in the industry, locally or internationally.

At work, my colleagues use the pro version of Hootsuite. I like how customizable, clean and precise it can be. It also allows them to work as a team to respond to comments and create engagement as well as schedule posts into the various platforms we use. Should I decide to become more serious I would probably use this system combined with various Google alerts

On Facebook, I get to see in a rawer version how other photographer use their creativity to market their services while I use Instagram to get inspired and monitor the trends in the techniques used by the photographers I follow.

While I prefer a more laid back approach, do not mistake this as a lack of interest or pure laziness on my end. I am very active on these two Social Medias and interact daily with my colleagues and friend in the industry.

The “Summer” Vacation?

So hello, if you think that this is what I did for my entire summer vacation, you would not be too far off. Do not get me wrong, it’s not because I do not enjoy having downtime, but my idea of summer is definitely NOT THIS..

This is my summer time..leaves vivid on the trees, cascading to the ground and then the cool, crisp air swirling them up from the ground. A full bloom colourful whirlwind.

I know that there is a lot that I should be talking about with respect to my vacation. Quite frankly, there has not been a summer vacation for me. Mainly because I am NOT a summer person. Give me the fall, bring not the winter. I am NOT tropical. Remember that video of “’s hot!” on YouTube? I laughed non-stop at the “sister” because I identified with her. For those of you who have never seen it…

please excuse the language…but she is so “bang on”..

So for now, that is all that I can tell you about my vacation. It was non-existent. As well, I am a true “newbie” when it comes to social media and these things called blogs. I have a lot of ideas, but now the execution is new to me. I will try to get things moving a little to the curriculum, but there are times when you have to test the boundary before you are reeled in.

Until the next time…


Social Media and Thrifting

Social Media and Thrifting

            Yes I am a true Thrift Shopper. Long before “thrifting” was in fashion, I was a struggling student needing to pay tuition, eat and buy trendy but warm clothing with pennies. Thrift stores were small, cluttered and smelly. However, in recent years selling vintage clothing and accessories grew from a few sellers on Kijii to a full-blown retail business on Instagram. Suddenly, customers went from never admitting when asked “where did you get that great sweater?” that it was from a thrift store, to boasting about the find they found and how little they paid.

            Thrift stores are now on Facebook, Instagram and blogs. Marketing how buying gently used items saves money and is environmentally conscious. Consistent digital marketing is the expectation and the only way to keep customers engaged. Offering online coupons, discounts and VIP advertising for upcoming sales is becoming the best way to drive customers to the brick and mortar locations. Unlike other retail stores that can close their actual store locations and still sell on line, thrift stores must have a building in order to receive and sell the donations.

            The customer expectation is changing as well. Small, cluttered and smelly stores are being replaced with bright, well organized, visually appealing displays with elevator music and no smell. In the thrift industry, “pickers” are becoming regular customers. They come daily, early as soon as the store opens to find the best items. They will do online searches to make sure the price is low enough and some will even call clients to make a sale before they buy the item.


The influence of social media in the retail world is becoming more and more prevalent with each passing year, and customers are now demanding a more interactive shopping experience. Gone are the days of the shabby secondhand store, thrifters now want a polished and modern layout. Without really realizing it, thrift stores find themselves at the cutting edge of a new trend that says “thrifting is in.”  Suddenly “branding” matters and thrift stores have a responsibility to create a marketable image that translates both online and in real life. This is a big ask for an industry that has existed almost as long as retail itself and one that hasn’t changed much in that time. 

Slowly but surely the thrift experience is adjusting to match the rest of the retail market and stories like the link below are a good signal of things to come.

Even celebrities are buying second hand

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.

rss pixabay

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.

ws pixabay

Image: Pixabay


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.


pixabay twitter

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 #1: Our first vacation

“A couple’s first vacation can be a predictor to see if you will make it as a couple”, is the line I was repeatedly told before we went to Portugal this year. My mom has a way with words. Well not only was the seven day trip amazing, but we survived without driving each other up a wall. Mission accomplished.

We decided on Portugal for our June vacation because of the weather, views, beaches and of course the wine. It was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited. We started our trip in Lisbon, worked our way down to Lagos then back up to Lisbon again. It was a perfect balance between sightseeing and relaxing!

We took an overnight flight (not recommended) to Lisbon and decided to spend a day sightseeing before taking a four-hour train down to Lagos. Unfortunately, we didn’t get much sleep on the plane and ended up passing out for the entire afternoon. We did eventually make it out of the hotel and our first stop was to eat the infamous Portuguese custard tart. If you haven’t had one of these desserts, you are missing out! We proceeded to have at least two custard tarts a day and so you don’t have to do the math, that’s 14 custard tarts (I’m grossed out too).

Portuguese custard tarts
Image by Caroline Bexfield

If you ever make it to Portugal, Lagos is a must-see. I would’ve spent my entire trip in the little beach town. Although it was a tiny area, there were so many activities to choose from, that you could never get bored. Our four days in Lagos included a boat tour through the caves, a hike over the cliffs, walking through the markets and soaking up the sun on the beautiful beaches.

Image by Caroline Bexfield

The town of Lagos was packed with people of all ages and at night became a party-scene for the younger tourists. The small town had numerous amounts of restaurants and even more wine to taste. They took great pride in their food and wine, which definitely showed. By the last day, we were wine connoisseurs! The fourth day, we reluctantly got on the train back to Lisbon to continue our trip.

Lagos Beach
Image by Caroline Bexfield

After a long train ride to Lisbon, we made it to our downtown Airbnb apartment. I kid you not this place had five flights of stairs, which was not fun with heavy suitcases. On the plus side, we definitely worked off some custard tarts.

Lisbon was such a lively and colourful city! We decided we were going to take it day by day and not overdo it on the sightseeing. It was a smart decision on our part because we stumbled upon interesting pockets of the city that would’ve been missed. Our favourites spots that we visited in Lisbon were the São Jorge Castle, the Tower of Belem and the Palace of Pena

The castle is a must-see, and although doesn’t look like much from the outside, it gave us access to hands down the best city views of Lisbon.

São Jorge Castle view
Image by Caroline Bexfield

The Tower of Belem was initially built to defend the city, and now stands a beautiful monument. The best part of being in Belem, was the three-minute walk to an establishment that created the first ever custard tart and still use the exact same recipe from 1837. Lastly, our day in Sintra was well worth the day trip! Just walking around the most colourful palace I’ve ever seen, was like walking through a movie set. It just didn’t seem real!

Tower of Belem
Image by Caroline Bexfield

Overall, it was an excellent trip and a huge feat for the both of us! Mostly because the only argument we had was over who would get the last custard tart. He didn’t win that one.

Interested in taking a trip to Portugal? Check out some of the blogs I reviewed before booking my trip:

Social Listening and Monitoring Tools

accounting-apps-bookkeeper-business-273691Social listening and monitoring are very important for companies. It allows them to monitor how well they are performing online. Being able to perform well means you are building trust with your audience; this helps build your brand and reputation.

I worked briefly with a start up marketing agency, there I used two difference monitoring tools that I liked best over anything else.

SalesForce Social Studio:

This one is like Hootsuite if you have ever used it before. I prefer this tool over Hootsuite though because I find it has more customization tools and allows for a deeper look at your statistics. You can place all your social media accounts into one dashboard for easy monitoring.

With Social Studio you can not only monitor your own statistics, but you can look at how your competition is doing as well. You can customize all your reports so if you only wanted to see KPI’s you can instead of having to sort through all the information. Something like this is important especially at the beginning stages for a company who are trying to build their brand and trust with an online audience.


BrandWatch is a tool that is specific to social listening, you don’t have a place to monitor your full account. You can build reports that monitor specific topics or trends. You can search hashtags or company names and the program will pull all its data from the everywhere on the internet from Google to Twitter to Instagram, etc. It breaks all the data down from where in the world the post was created to whether it has a positive or negative affect with its audience. This is great for companies just starting out, they can get a more in-depth look at how the world is responding to them instead of just what is happening on their own accounts, it will show is anyone has ever mentioned them but not tag them.


I rely a lot on my social media accounts for my news updates. I am on the them every day and I know if its something important it will show up in my news feed. I am a celebrity news junky, so I do follow a few entertainment news accounts get real-time updates. I also watch YouTube videos, searching for the top trending stories to watch every night.

I have used Google Alerts in the past, I do like getting the most updates news from them. I tend to only them though when things like the Olympics are happening so I can always be informed about what is going on.

COM0015- Blog #1 Tools and Updates

social mediaListening and monitoring are two important components of social media. For companies to establish their brand identity, build trust and awareness it is crucial that they monitor the conversations. Though, I have not had much experience in maintaining social media accounts for businesses but over the years, two tools that I have used and found them useful are: 

Hootsuite  : 

I have used this platform as a dashboard for maintaining all social media networks. It gives a bird’s eye view of what’s happening in those social accounts. The users can schedule posts, respond to messages, comments and mentions through same dashboard. It is convenient for companies to manage their accounts and tack performances. Companies can spend some time and schedule posts and adhere to their social media calendar to ensure that postings and conversations are responded in timely fashion.  


This tool provides real-time dashboard that is useful for tracking and monitoring hashtags, along with number of retweets, likes and impressions that campaign is generating. It also lets you track outside your network when customers are mentioning about hashtags which enables the organizations to find influences and promote their company. This tool also helps you to find about your competition and what are customers talking about it, which might enable you to come with new products and services to combat the competition.  

News & Updates: 

The tool that I have used to track news is Google Alerts. I have found this very beneficial Canva - Photography of a Woman Sitting on The Chair Listening to Musicas you are able to set an alert and you can receive an email of any new results for alert that shows in in Google search. This way, I am unable to miss on any new information as it lands in my inbox. For capturing news, I follow different news channels on social media accounts; Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as this way everything is on one platform. I follow different companies on different platforms, for example on Twitter I follow industry related topics on media, education and on LinkedIn I follow industry related companies, competition to get all updates. On all platforms I follow major media channels like CBC, CTV, weather network.  


COMM0014 – Blog #7 – There is always 2 sides to a medal.

As a photojournalist, telling stories is what my job is. There are always 2 sides to a medal and, as a staff photographer I get to show our side of it. The medias can take care of the other side.


Photo of the medals awarded to Lt.-Col. David Currie during the Second World War including the Victoria Cross. Photo by Serge Gouin

With a minimum of information, a time, place and a contact name, I need to be able to show up at any location with the appropriate gear, and document any event in a way that will go along the lines of what my client is hoping.

There is rarely only one client since, many department can benefit from these images. If I do it right, I can supply images for the event manager (most likely to promote the event the next year), the social media team, the recruiting team, our image bank and even the participants themselves.

Understanding your audience, the impact you are hoping to get is crucial. Learning to please most of it is something I need to deal with on a daily basis. Experience is the key and feedback is the most precious thing you can ever get.

Telling a story is not hard for me. That being said, the challenge is always there. What if the light is not as nice as you expected? What if only 10 people showed up to this rally? What do you do if it rains? …

You just need to find the right angle. Our angle. Our side of the medal.




If you wish to read about the medal’s story, click here

COM0014 Blog #7: Personal reflection

There were lot of new things that I learned from this course. When engaging with the audience, it is fine to show your personal side. Once you start sharing your personal story, the audience appreciates and connects with you more 

Canva - The Chronicles of Narnia BookIn digital communication, storytelling is an art and key piece for successful engagement. It is a strong foundation to engage and build trust with your audience. Audience would be interested in your content if it is delivered as a story. Identifying your audience and presenting them with information that interests them is an important factor for building trust and network. No one can appeal to everyone, hence segmenting market based on age, demographics, gender, lifestyle and income level is key for successful digital campaigns. Once you have identified your audience, using appropriate communication style to that market is crucial for a successful campaign.  

Consistency in posting is also an important key factor. Though when I saw this course Canva - Green Leafed Plant Beside Books and Mugoutline at the beginning, I was bit overwhelmed with many assignments and blogs, but I have thoroughly enjoyed doing regular blog posting. Thus, by having a schedule of blog posting and sticking to it, is an important factor as your audience gets constantly reminded about you and your company. It is crucial to remember the goals of social media and working towards building trust and awareness, finding interactive ways of engaging with audience and always reminding them to take an action.  

Moving forward, my storytelling pieces will include bit of personal content to connect with my audience. I will connect my own personal experiences with storytelling.  I will use of simple language and active voice as that comes across as being authentic and wouldn’t feel bragging about myself!

Overall, I truly enjoyed this course and I would like to thank Sonia Gibbs for being an amazing facilitator for this course!  

Canva - Pen Writing Thank You on White Background