COMM0014 – Blog #5 – Experience is what sets me apart.

I am an artist that likes to wear a tie, the quiet gentlemen that listen to metal music. I am the pacific guy that trains to fight every week and a couch-potato that runs ultra marathons. I am patient and easily gets excited with new projects. When you hire me, you are not only getting a photographer, you get a partner that will help you realize your project and document it in a way that will write history, your story.

My experience is what sets me apart. I had the honour of working as the official photographer to the Governor General for 4 years (2007 to 2010) and, now, I continue to work as a photographer, documenting our Mounties.

I have photographed countless of historical events, including a number of state visits, the Olympics in Vancouver, the aftermath of the Earthquake in Haiti and our troops in Afghanistan. I got to bring my camera to over 26 countries and most of our own country and to photograph many known and unknown personalities.

One thing that I am the most proud of is the exhibit that I had the pleasure of putting together for Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada. Click here to see it. 


This panel explains what the exhibit is about and a little more about me.

Considering that I continue to be staff photographer for our federal police, I am fortunate that I do not need to promote myself very aggressively. It fits well with my brand, to be discreet and make noise with my megapixels.

COMM0014 – Blog #4 – Problem solved.

Earlier this year, Amanda Lindhout was invited as a guest speaker at work. After going through her her biography in the event invitation, I felt the urge to read her book before she would come. Since I read at an extra slow speed, I decided to look for the audio book version on Audible . In only 2 days I managed to “read” the book, just in time before her visit. My reading speed was not an issue anymore; problem solved.

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My picture of Amanda Lindhout used in a Social Media post from work on Facebook.

I was hooked. Suddenly my commute was more enjoyable, and I could go through a book in less than 6 months! While I was not very keen on another monthly subscription, Audible’s initial offer was very generous; 3 audiobooks for free over 3 months.

They followed up with an email strategy that worked where other had failed; they were sending me personalized suggestions of book to read with the possibility of sampling them. With over 5 millions followers on the Audible’s Canadian Facebook page, they are truly engaging with their audience effectively. In this article from Mediakix , they explain how Audible is using Influencer in marketing campaigns on Instagram and Youtube to encourage new clients to try Audible and feed the discussion. Audiobooks are like movies in a sense that they are easy to share and comment on and the company can easily afford to have influencers do that for them.

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Personalized suggestion from Audible received via email

When my offer came to an end, I decided quit to save money. Once again, they had an offer that was hard to resist and to this day I am still with them and have gone through many books since. I believe their marketing is very effective and not aggressive but yet generous. At least it works for me…

Here are a few of the books I have been listening to. Which one was your favorite?

Can’t hurt me – David Goggins 

A house in the sky – Amanda Lindhout

Here I am – Alan Huffman

The Operator – Robert O’Neil


COMM0014 – BLOG #3 -Variable audience

As you may know by now, I’m a photographer . I have two kind of clients: 1- The strategists from my full time Job and, 2- my sideline photography business.

Serge photographe

Taking pictures of Garance

I quickly realized that I always have more than one client for my products of the same event. For example, if I take photos at a parade, I might take some close ups that can be used by the recruiting department and artistic photos for the social media teams. If I am lucky, the boss might use some for her twitter account and so on. The audience varies depending on the strategists and their specific projects and I try and bring home a variety of images that tells the story and will suit everyone.

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Screenshot @CommrRCMPGRC ‘s Twitter account using my pictures of a parade.

For my business, it is a totally different picture. My audience consists of my friends, my family, local families and businesses in my community. They usually come from my network, meaning people I work/train with, friends or mouth-to-ear referrals. They are mid-class to wealthy people (meaning they can afford professional photography services). I find it interesting when I look at my client’s sessions page. It gives me a visual of who they and who is reaching out for my services. My blog, website and Instagram are used to share my work with them, including what I do at work.

At this time, my strategy is not aimed towards getting a lot of clients. Since I work full time, I keep my online presence to maintain a reputation and, from time to time, find opportunities for assignments.

While we are here…

We are currently taking part in an international photo contest with one of my image! Head to this @Policenationale Instagram post and please like my picture to help us win! – and become part of my audience!

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Please vote for my picture on @policenationale ‘s Instagram account!



COM0014 – Blog #1: Sun, Sand, Surf

This past Christmas my husband surprised us with a special envelope in the tree.  Inside was details about a beautiful house he had rented for us for a week in March.  It was in one of our favourite places; Melbourne Beach, Florida.  I have to admit the control-freak in me initially thought, “What? He planned this without me?”.  Then I embraced the generous gesture for the true gift that it was, and we began planning for our trip.

The deal was that we would drive South. I loved the idea.  We’ve done it a few times before when the kids were younger.  I love the drive, and seeing new scenery, people and places.  I also enjoy (for the most part) being in the car with my family.  With the speed that life goes these days, actually having the four of us in one spot for a duration of time, is rare.  Except now, the kids are older, less patient, used to being attached to their phones and ipads, and used to spending more time with friends than their boring parents.

To help pass the time of the 24 hour drive, my daughter came up with a ‘game’. Here is what we did.  A few weeks before the trip, the four of us drew names.  This alone took some time. Two of us drew our own name, then somehow we all forgot who we had drawn, and the whole process had to happen again.  Each of us were to purchase six little items for “our person”.  In the end there were 24 little items to open, each hour during the 24 hour car ride.   Regardless of whether it was ‘our turn’, it was fun to look forward to each hour and the little gift that someone had chosen for someone else.  March 28-16 297

Once we got to our home away from home all we truly wanted to do was unwind. Our days were spent on the beach, in the pool, fishing (my husband and son love to fish in the ocean surf), taking walks, reading, cooking, and eating good food.  March 28-16 314

Before we knew it, our last day arrived and we were packing up our things to start for home early the next morning.  To cap off our time away, we decided to find a nice place along the beach to go for supper.  I had heard of a place up the beach from where we were called Lou’s Blues.  All I knew about it was that it was on the beach and when I called they said it wasn’t too busy.  If we arrived soon there should be a table for us.

Eager, hungry, and a little sad to be leaving, we piled in the car and arrived at Lou’s Blues.  Through the dark and smoky room we assessed it was actually a bar.  Over the loud, heavy metal music we realized a band was tuning up, getting ready to play.  By the amount of leather we saw, we determined we were in a hard-core biker bar.  With two kids.  Two very tired, hungry, and slightly frightened kids.  Luckily we found a table outside on a patio, which was a little less smoky, brighter, and over the sea of motorcycles we could almost see the ocean.  Perhaps, a little more research is needed to pick a restaurant next time.

How about you? Where do you like to vacation?

Do you have any ideas for making a long drive seem shorter?

COM0014 Blog #3- Target Audiences

In establishing an online presence, one of the most important factors to consider is who your target audience is going to be. Are they young? Are they old? Do they have a family? Where are they from? There’s a ton of different questions to answer when it comes to who’s listening in to your content.

To be more specific, you need to establish your audience’s demographic and psychographic. Finding out this information can be a challenge. It takes a lot of research into who your current consumers are, and who your competitors’ consumers are. This information can be gathered by using a variety of different tools, starting with implementing surveys to your audience to learn what kind of demographic is tuning in to your content. By which we mean, how old they are, where they are in life, what nationality they are, where they come from, etc. You can use this information, and place it into a demographic profile, which will be a helpful reminder for future use. After finding out your demographic, it’s time to find out your audience’s psychographic, which establishes what type of lifestyle your audience leads. Are they upper, middle, or lower class? Are they trendy? Or do they live more on the simpler side of things? Once you get a more clear picture of what they’re interested in, you’re ready to begin strategizing a communication plan.

This information you’ve gathered should now be put to use. For example, say your company is a business that markets luxury products to children. Your target audience is most likely going to be mainly made up of parental figures in families, probably in the 25-40 age range. However, you won’t be marketing to just anyone. It’s unlikely that lower class families with lower incomes will have the spare money to dish out on your products. With that in mind, it would be wise to market your social media accounts to people within the upper class, and somewhat to those in the middle class. The upper class will have the money to spend on your products, and the middle class consumers may decide to splurge on a product from you when they have some spare money to spend. You would also use your social media presence to speak to your audience in a more formal tone, perhaps, rather than talking to your audience using trendy language or “memes”, for example, like accounts targeting younger audiences would.

There’s many factors to consider when it comes to implementing a social media presence and campaign for yourself, and your company. The best thing you can do is to do your research, think and listen. Research who your people are. Think about what type of content they’d like to see or read. And listen to the feedback they give you.

Thanks for reading.

COM0014 – Blog #4 – Sharing #peiburgerlove

Knowing where your food comes from and buying local has become very popular. While Prince Edward Island is well known for potatoes and seafood, it is lesser known for its beef which is produced on 40% of Island farms, but has struggled to gain market share.

In 2011, the PEI Cattle Producers engaged Fresh Media to help promote local beef. The creative agency took on the challenge, developing the very successful PEI Burger Love campaign. From the catchy burger names – Stuffed Leprechaun or Redneck Monte Cristo anyone? – to social media and contesting, each element plays an important role in the public engagement that makes the campaign such a success. Each year a winning burger is selected by public vote and burger lovers are encouraged to use Facebook or Twitter to share their #peiburgerlove.

The success of PEI Burger Love by the numbers saw 14 restaurants, each creating a signature Prince Edward Island beef burger during the inaugural campaign in April 2011, laying the foundation for the annual month-long event. In 2015, 60 restaurants sold 145,527 burgers, translating into sales of over $1.9 million. These results contribute not only to the increased interest and consumption of local beef, but also provide welcomed support to the economy of Canada’s smallest province when tourism numbers are low. A great achievement when you consider the entire population of the province is give or take 146,000.

The following graphic demonstrates the campaign’s growth over the first four years including the use of social media.


Credit: Fresh Media Inc.







Success is also demonstrated through industry recognition including the 2012 AIM – Atlantic Interactive Marketing Awards’ Best Social Media Campaign in Atlantic Canada and the Best of CAMA 2014 Integrated Marketing Campaign.

Beyond April, activity in social media continues, ensuring the beefy love affair endures.   The countdown is on!

Blog Post 2 – Storytelling and Communication Styles

2047710-vector-primitive-figures-looks-like-cave-paintingStory telling is a tradition that goes back as far as privative times, yet is still as relevant and necessary in today’s age of social media. To be a good story teller one must understand basic communication styles enabling the story teller to take the reader on a journey, and inspire them to form their own ideas and opinions on what is written.

What are some basic communication styles?

  1. Begin with the end in mind – It’s very important to know what kind of experience you want to take your reader on and where you want them to end up. Think about if you want your reader to learn, be inspired, or just entertained by the end of your writing and what call to action you want them to have in the end i.e. comment, question or repost.
  2. Don’t burry the lead – Remember to put the most important and eye catching information in your opening paragraph. A reader’s attention span is very short and if you don’t grab their attention right away you will have lost them completely and they will move on from your writing immediately
  3. Clarity and conciseness – Keep your writing clear and to the point. The easier it is for the reader to scan and read what you have written the more likely they are to dig deeper into it.
  4. Grammar, spelling and punctuation – If your writing is poor and full of grammar, spelling and punctuation mistakes your credibility is gone and the reader will no longer trust you.
  5. Passive vs. active voice – Using an active voice rather than passive one makes for a more clearer and interesting read.

Ultimately most people are not born story tellers. Practice makes perfect and the more you write the better you will be come and the easier it will get. Storytelling is an art form and if you wish to do it never stop trying. For more ways to learn how to be a better writer check out Inspired Mag: Business Writing for the Web – 27 Ways to Write Better, Alan Martin.

COMM0014, Blog #2- The Importance of Inverted Triangle Writing

Inverted Pyramid writing is when the most crucial information you want to convey to your readers is presented at the beginning of a post. Providing the most important information to your readers in the lead of your post is beneficial for both your readers and for your blog’s position in search engines. Inverted Pyramid writing is one of the most utilized styles in communications today.

Readers benefit from Inverted Pyramid style because it allows them to scan your article for the most important points without necessarily having to read the whole piece. Readers are able to read only a few sentences and get the main idea of your article. Also, they are able to decide if they want to read on further based on those first few sentences.

Using Inverted Pyramid can improve your blog’s SEO performance because one of the first things search engines take into consideration is the top text on your site. This is why it is advantageous to have the most important information presented first in your posts.

Here’s a great video by Internet Marketing Inc. that touches on much of what I have just told you.

Next time you’re reading through some blogs, take a look at the structure of the posts. Are they written using Inverted Pyramid style? If not, are they as effective as if they had been written using Inverted Pyramid structure?

COM0014 – Post #7 – Personal Reflection on Digital Communication Course

Story telling can warm the heart, excite the imagination and attract an audience you did not know was willing to listen. This course has truly been a fascinating ride exploring how communication online is the most successful when approached as though one is telling a story. When writing a story, especially one related to your personal brand, you are inviting people to get to know you. Often, people will be interested in your content, if they are interested in you as a person.

I consider myself to be a very approachable person in real life, and now I wonder if my online content reflected this. I certainly hope so, and will aim to reflect my personality more in my writing. For instance, my strongest writing is seen when I write as though I am speaking to a friend. Many things I have written online followed this personal style, but many were also very dry and specifically targeted at sending a business message. After taking this course, I look back on some of my posts and wonder how I could have made them more interesting for my readers.

Going forward, I plan on including more personal things about me in my writing online. This will include stories about things that happen to me in my life, or things that interest me (not necessarily related to my communications business). I want people to get to know me for who I really am, whether that is online or offline. Being myself online will hopefully attract an audience that is interested in hearing what I have to say. If they like me, then that will hopefully mean that they would be willing to use my services because they trust me as a person first and foremost, and that they see me as a capable person.

COM0014 – Post #6 – My Real-Life Mental Health Story

I am finding myself more and more pleased with this year’s Bell Media Let’s Talk campaign. This is a campaign all about ending the stigma around mental illness. This year they released videos showing how people’s words about someone with a mental health issue can change the way we talk about these problems. Some of these videos reflect real life scenario’s, like in a workplace or at school, while some are testimonials from celebrities. For instance:

My Story

Growing up, I came from a very traditional family. Even though, I believe, they recognize and empathize with others, who have mental health problems, I do not think they are very intuitive or receptive to dealing with these issues when they are in their homes.

I have always been a good girl for my parents. I was the daughter they could always rely on, who rarely misbehaved and got top grades. I think over time, I created a pressure on myself, more than they did, to maintain this image for them. I never wanted to disappoint them or ever feel burdened by me or any issues I had. When I was younger, I had some issues with bullies at school, and struggled with a personal heartache when one of my closest friends moved away and stopped communicating with me (which I later learned was due to family problems). Throughout all this, I always kept a positive attitude. This is something I am proud of to this day. Yet, I now know that maintaining this image from such a young age had huge impact on my mental health. My world went upside down when I turned 13.

We moved out of the city and into the suburbs the summer before grade 7. I started at new school. This alone may not have been a problem, as it was not my first time switching schools, but this time, making friends was harder than I anticipated. I continued to strive to be my best, but it just got harder every day, as I struggled to find a way to fit in with these new kids. There were not that many minorities in the school and I certainly felt the difference between the personalities of the kids from the suburbs and the kids from the city. Somehow, I just was not comfortable and it affected my confidence significantly. That is when I started to have anxiety attacks. I did not know that is what they were and nobody helped me understand them that way. I recall screaming at my mom, “What is wrong with me!”, because I knew I was not being “normal” and that I did not feel the same. I once overheard her talking on the phone and sadly telling a friend that she did not know what to do for me. I knew her tone was that of confusion about my difficult attitude, and not necessarily recognizing that I was experiencing a mental problem.

I was very mature for my age and quite clever. I remember going to a doctor at a walk-in-clinic that implied he could prescribe anti-depressants. I walked out of that appointment telling my mom that he did not know what he was talking about. Of course, my mother, who was not very educated and did not speak English very well, took my word for it. I did, however, start seeing the school psychologist after a parent-teacher interview exposed my new behaviours at home.

I remember going to the bi-weekly appointments with my psychologist and putting on a great show of maturity, with little to confide. I always had this fear that if I said something not quite right, I may be putting my parents’ reputation at risk. Growing up in the rougher part of the city, I knew a lot of kids that were taken away from their parents, for what seemed like seemingly innocent things at the time. I was not sure if anything I ever confided could result in this. As smart as I was, I guess I did not know exactly what a psychologist’s job was?

My “Aha!”  Moment

I vividly remember the moment I started to recognize the importance of my mental health, and my desire to get better. It was after I heard some students mention that I was “crazy” and that I saw the school psychologist. This is something I had only confided to one person at school. I remember feeling so terrible and going to the main office to ask to see the school psychologist. He was not there. So I went home instead. I will never forget that my first instinct was to go look for my psychologist. Clearly, I knew that he was someone who could help me.

I share me story, like those in the Bell Media testimonials did, because I know firsthand that the stigma behind mental illness is what makes it so hard for people to get better. That was the most challenging year of my life, and I was only 13. That year taught me everything about expressing my emotions, having a good balance in life (with regards to school, home, work, and so on). I learned so much about being open-minded to others, and recognizing that each person has a story or a struggle of their own. I learned that the fact that there was someone available to help me meant that there were others like me. Going forward from that year, I could recognize symptoms of elevated stress or anxiety and understand the ways that I could cope. I am proud to say that I know myself and my limits, and I know that I can still be that awesome student, daughter and wife, without putting unnecessary pressure on myself.

What do you think about the Let’s Talk campaign? Do you find it an effective tool for making people understand mental health issues and reducing the stigma surrounding them?