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.

results

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.
    storytelling

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. http://www.inspiredm.com/persuasive-writing/

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?

Dove, B2C social success – missed opp – COM0014 post 4

I was not sure how to get started on this post.

Find a B2C that is using Social Media to reach it’s audience.

My wife is a savvy shopper and and one of those Crazy Couponers so I thought she would have some ideas?

I asked her if she had seen or noticed anything that caught her eye from a company trying to reach its customers?

She said “Dove”. No pause. Wow!

Okay, good enough for me. What is it that got my Wife’s attention?

Facebook

I went to their Facebook page to find out.

Dove

Dove

There was the bold headline

Shouldn’t every age feel beautiful?

and almost 24 million likes!

YouTube

My wife told me about Doves Sketches on youTube.

Doves Real Beauty Sketches

I was definitely impacted by this video and I was not even the target audience. I can’t remember the last time an ad made me stop, think, feel emotional?

Did you feel the impact, hear the message?

Wow!

I wish I could get a sketch artist and some people together and do this for my wife, myself, everyone I know.

So what was different?

The message, not really, I think I have seen this idea before.

The delivery, yes, not a 30 second ad, not a pretty graphic, mini documentary of sorts about how women see themselves as compared to others.

The real difference

Dove is not explicitly pushing its products, they are not saying buy this soap, or that creme or lotion. yeah they branded their stuff but I do not feel like they are trying to sell me anything (which they are not directly – I don’t feel like their target demo).

Nice.

Yeah but

Great delivery, great angle, great message, however…

I did notice that the focus is on women. This is a good thing but when I look in my bathroom I notice at least 2 Dove products for men. I did not buy them but I am sure their influence and my wife’s opinion of the company is why they are sitting on the edge of my tub. But, I might have bought them? More likely to now, but if I had been targeted I may have had them sooner and may have purchased more Dove products, for me, my little guy and of course my wife.

Dove stuff I own

Nice big manly blue Dove bottles

  1. 1 of all in 1 Shampoo
  2. Exfoliating body wash (the gritty stuff – I am not really educated on beauty product).

So what about Men Dove? What about me?

COM0014 – Post #5 – My Personal Brand

The good thing about social media is that everyone has a chance to stand out (as noted by Tom Peters in his article ‘The Brand Called You’). Through social media, personal branding is arguably, “inescapable”. If you are posting content online, you are ultimately creating an image of yourself for people to see…your Personal Brand.

My Brand

When considering my own personal brand, it is important to note my area of specialization and the things that set me apart from some of my competition – primarily my work experience and my personality. I currently work as an Executive Administrative Assistant with the Federal Government. However, my background is in Communications, as I graduated with Bachelors with Honours in Communications from the University of Ottawa. I also worked several years in a Communications Department for the Canadian Army, in various positions. In addition to this, I co-own a Communications Consulting and Contracting business with my brother. Although we have not done too much work in our business in the past, we have started to do more with it recently, including working as a contractor with the Outreach Department for the Canadian Army and editing videos for various customers.

It is fair to say that my communication skills have been my strongest asset from when I was young, even to the point where I was nominated ‘Friend to Everyone’ when I was in high school. Most of my colleagues and friends would say that I am a good listener, which is an important characteristic for someone who works in communications, and that I am very easy to get along with, which is a great benefit to my clients.

Based on my past experiences, I feel that I have a lot of communications advice and guidance that I can contribute to others. In the past, many have to come to me for communications related information. Although I do not like to focus on this, I also feel that an element that makes me stand out is that I am a minority. To be more exact, I am a successful business woman of Lebanese decent. My background also gives me insight into communicating effectively with other Lebanese people (which is a huge diaspora worldwide), and with other women.

Your Personal Brand Anatomy by Olivia Omega (http://laughlivlove.com/)

Your Personal Brand Anatomy by Olivia Omega (http://laughlivlove.com/)

Some of my past successes in creating my personal brand include the fact that I have been able to create a website for my company, along with a Twitter and Facebook page. Through these, I have connected or followed some very successful communications consultants. This is something I am proud of, as I feel that I am taking the initiative to become more successful in my field. In addition to this, I have posted a couple of blog posts, though I hope to do this more regularly in the future. This is something I am proud of, since contributing to a blog, at least once a month, and more if possible, will help me build an audience. If I have people enjoying my blogs, using my personal style of writing, then they may share this with others. The more people that read my blogs, the stronger my personal branding will be. I can use my blog as a way of showing myself as a friendly person, but also an intelligent person. Hopefully these characteristics will attract people to me – and my personal brand.

What’s your personal brand, and are you finding it easy to identify it?

COM 0014 Blog Post#5 – Personal Brand

HelloMyNameIsLeahHello, my name is Leah. And this is my story.

My experience is a collaboration of photography, marketing, advertising and graphic design and for over 10 years I have been using these mediums to translating my vision into a reality. Everything I do as a designer and photographer is fueled by the world around me, taking inspirations from everything I do and see.

When I asked my clients and peers to describe me, I was continually told my creative and enthusiastic personality compliments my versatility as a designer, photographer and marketing professional.

It is a very competitive world and difficult to differentiating yourself especially as a designer. I don’t claim that I can do it all but I am confident in my strengths, acknowledge my weaknesses and focus on my wide range of skills. I take pride in my ability to look at any initiative from both sides of the fence, a creative perspective and a business standpoint, giving me the vantage point I need to create eye-catching design while effectively supporting business objectives.

My strategy is to evoke and amplify emotions with my designs and make a connection that will cause someone to do something.

My tactic is understanding a client’s need and taking their vision to the next level. I am always looking for ways to change the boundaries of the box.

There are always challenges, limited resources to overcome. There is always going to be something working against me. There are also opportunities for me to embrace, sources to leverage and new ideas to expand on. Without ignoring those challenges, I focus on those opportunities. And this will give me success in my career.