COM0014 – Blog #2: The Birth of a Blogger

…”And, so, we had to drag the body out through the back yard.”

That sentence was at the top of a multi-page letter my brother sent me years ago. Of course, I flipped back to the bottom of the previous page to see if I’d missed something fairly significant! Maybe I was just giving it a superficial read, as mentioned in Brian Clark‘s How to Read article (not that I knew that term then … just learned about it!). But, no, of course he was playing a trick and the next line said something along the line of ‘fishing me in’. The joke certainly kept me engaged and I felt closer to my brother, like he was in the same room with me bantering back and forth.

So, I’ve been remembering the importance of storytelling in my life and seeing the relevance in today’s digital communications. I’ve also been reflecting this week on how much I miss creative writing. I hadn’t done it in so long that I vaguely assumed that I had lost the talent entirely. Now, I’m actually thinking of continuing with a blog! A week ago, I barely had blogs on my radar at all and couldn’t tell you if they were even a thing anymore.

Spark of creativity

It is amazing the unexpected things that light a spark in our lives. Maybe you remember a time when something out of the blue motivated you to do something you forgot you knew how to do? Or, encouraged you to start something brand new? Let me know about it!

Who knows, the stories we tell may light a spark in someone else’s life!

Here’s a little fire to remind us of the spark that is in all of us.

Image by Debra Beauregard; outdoor fireplace in the backyard; 2020

COM0014 Blog #2: The same message, three different ways

By Cindy Macdonald

Image by, OpenClipart-Vectors

The emphasis in my social media class this week was on storytelling and communication styles, so I would like to provide a short demonstration of how you, as  writer, can communicate the same information in multiple ways, depending on the nature of your audience.

Why the image of a cucumber you ask? Well, it’s going to become the star of our story.

I pulled this quote from a corporate blog for Resolute Forest Products. It is written in typical promotional corporate tone.

“Today, the company has grown into a global leader in the forest products industry with over 40 pulp, paper, tissue, wood products and energy facilities across North America…. From the filter used to make their morning coffee to the lumber they buy to renovate their home – even the cucumbers in their lunchtime salad – all may contain a fair amount of Resolute.”

– Resolute Forest Products

Presented in a more casual, instructional tone, it could read:

Many mills in Quebec and Ontario belong to one of the world’s top forest products companies: Resolute Forest Products. The company has more than 40 plants in North America, producing items you would use every day: the filter used for your coffee, the lumber for your home renovations, even the cucumbers in your lunchtime salad.

Here it is in a light, first-person style:

I just found out that a Canadian company which makes paper and lumber also grows cucumbers! I think it’s so fabulous that Resolute Forest Products uses the waste heat from some of its mills to provide energy for a greenhouse to grow cucumbers. It just goes to show that even big companies – Resolute has 40 mills in North America – can still be innovative, and cool as a cucumber! 😊

Now you try re-writing the original corporate bland copy using a different tone, and share it in the comments section.

About me: After more than 25 years as an editor of trade publications, I’m now learning social media techniques. I’ll be writing about news, communication, social media and travel as I go through this career transition. Please join me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or my blog, and we’ll chat.

COM0014 Blog #7: Let Your Audience Guide You!

I’ve learned a lot in this course about story-telling; in fact everything from the Inverted Triangle Approach to researching target audiences has taught me something about writing online. But the most interesting lesson has been discovering that story-telling does have a place when creating good digital content; if used effectively and concisely.

To do this means not starting from the beginning and working to the end leaving the most important message for last, expecting your audience to hold their interest up to that point but taking into consideration that they will have limit attention spans so say what you want first and foremost weaving your message into a story-telling approach.

You may be asking “Why” this is important?

Well with everything you must consider your target audience. In fact taking them into consideration first can help you as the writer determine the best way to tell your story so that it is well received. After all, these are the people we write for and so in order to capture their interest it makes perfect sense to appeal to them.


Twitter screenshot, where I’m working to tuning into what’s being said and find what’s most relevant!

Learning this it has helped me evaluate my own writing and zero in on my own approach to blogging. I’ve started thinking about what I really want them to know and how best to communicate that so the message reaches them clearly. Through using social media I am also listening in to help me select blog topics more carefully. Considering not just what interests me but tuning into what my audience is talking about and getting ideas from there has helped guide my writing and given me some good insight into what’s most relevant and therefore could be most helpful to them.

Which overall this course has made me a better blogger and careful listener.


COM0014 – Blog #2 – The power of storytelling 

The most important part of communication and storytelling is listening. That may seem like an odd concept for some but you need to be able to listen to what your audience needs before you are able to communicate with them. It is important to know if your audience would prefer to watch a video on the topic, or read an article about it. Everyone communicates differently and the audience will be more engaged with your story if they are engaged with the way the story is being told. 

In order for a story to be powerful, it needs to be communicated effectively. A great story needs to encourage the audience to interact with the content, especially if there is a lesson to be learned or a takeaway to be had. The story also needs to be clear and concise to get the point across with some detail, but avoiding going into too much detail that you will loose your audience. 

I also think a really important aspect of communication and storytelling is to inspire your audience to action. Whether this action be posed in the form of a question to debate on a topic, or encourages them to participate in the conversation, it is always good to engage your audience this way.

What communication styles are important to you? How do you engage your audience through storytelling?

COMM14 – Blog Post #2 / Communication Styles – Breaking Bad Habits

I tried to get my mom into Breaking Bad over the recent Christmas holidays.

This incredible television series – five excellent seasons long – chronicles the tribulations of Walter White, your average middle-aged high school chemistry teacher who breaks bad and becomes a illegal methamphetamine drug kingpin. It’s required viewing for any fan of great television, great acting, or great writing.

But, according to my mom,

“It just takes to long to get started!”

–Mom, in classic mom voice, December 2015.

A little bit of context: I forced her to sit down with me to watch the first two episodes (I had been keen to rewatch the series after its Facebook page posted a “which Breaking Bad character are you?” quiz), and she appeared to be unmoved by the whole concept.

Mom: It seems interesting, but the characters are boring and nothing has happened.
Me: What?? The characters are the best part. SO much happens!
Mom: Well I’m bored, we should watch something else.
Me: I don’t get you. This is the best series ever, it has such a high rating on IMDB—
Mom: The neighbours will be over soon, could you set the table? Where did I put the poinsetta…

As you can see, my mom’s attention span (like any modern consumer of new-age blog-style media) is extremely thin. She’s a busy journeywoman with a lot on the go, so if something isn’t interesting right away, it’s not worth her time.

The Inverted Pyramid communication style online caters to the impatience of modern mom-like™ social media consumers: they are rarely willing to offer up their time to navigate their way through a dense editorial piece with a lengthy analogous intro (of which I am certainly guilty of at this very moment).

They want the juicy bits right away; they want to be hooked in to whatever their reading and they’re satisfied with having the additional details explored later. Otherwise? They’d rather prep the house for a neighbourhood dinner.

Back to Breaking Bad: what I eventually realized in my mom-conundrum is that I had already seen the entire series before – I had the big plot points stored in my memory bank, with the details slightly blurred. In essence, my memory of the entire show was compiled in an Inverted Pyramid in my brain.

But for Mrs. Donaldson, the busy high matriarch of my Donaldson family, the long narrative and expositional details of the first two episodes of a 62 episode series weren’t explosive enough to reel her in immediately.

Ultimately, an epic, Emmy Award winning TV series isn’t like a blog post: a) because there’s no award shows for blogs and b) because no one reading your blog has time for the flowery exposition. In effective social media communication, you must wow your readers from the get-go and then – if they’re interest is maintained – you can saturate them in details afterward.

Thus, your post should be structured like a trailer rather than a series.

EDIT: Am I a hypocrite for advocating the Inverted Pyramid approach to blogging without actually practicing it in my post? Perhaps. But some blog topics, particularly reflective editorial ones, benefit from the Hourglass model of writing.


Com0014: Post 2- Communication Styles

In getting your message out in the Wild Wild West, in the Internet age, it’s important to not only have great content, but also have a style which can engage your readers.

For my analysis, I chose the renewable energy website, which ranks as one of the world’s top cleantech websites globally.

With thousands of readers daily, and ranked as the number one cleantech website globally by and, CleanTechnica in itself has become a brand. Launched in 2008, this blog has gained a following. It’s been referenced by major media outlets, including: MSN, Washington Post, and Reuters., and was a trailblazer in helping to establish cleantech media in the late 2000’s.

CleanTechnica covers all sorts of renewable energies, including: wind, solar, clean transportation, and energy efficiency. It has two goals.

  1. Inspire people and help them to take cleantech action in their lives;

  2. Share correct information on cleantech, including debunking widespread myths and horrible coverage in the mass media.

While it attracts many academics, and cleantech enthusiasts, like myself, CleanTecnica’s communication style makes it easy for readers to understand. Trying to communicate renewable energy and cleantech prior to Web 2.0 was a challenge. If you wanted to get your message out, you had limited Internet opportunities, or go through mainstream media. After all, renewable energy and cleantech is still young now. This is why much of why many within mainstream media have done a poor job communicating about the benefits of these industries. In the past, information relating to these industries were only confined to tech geeks in the University science lab. Through blogs, and social networking outlets, social media helped blow it out of the water. In the past 10-15 years, social media has opened up research, and news stories within new media. Now the challenge was to find a communication style which can relate well to enthusiasts, academics, novices, and those with a casual interest. CleanTechnica has a nice balance in finding a communication style which pleases all bases.

In lesson one, we learned the importance putting personality in your voice, in business writing can provide a more human element.  By allowing its writers to have a human voice within its writing, CleanTechnica pleases those causal readers, as well as the hard core techies.

Its owner and one of its writers, Zachary Shahan, adds lots of personality to his articles. For example, a recent article where he talks with Wang Chuanfu, the Chairman of Chinese electric vehicle manufacturer, BYD. His own personal voice comes out in this article. Shahan uses “I’s” often to give his analysis with his discussion with Chuanfu. Shahan is also very clear about discussing what BYD is (namely giving a detailed description of this company) and its chairman.

This personal style reflects well to entice not only tech nerds, but also the novices, and casual fans.

COM0014 Blog #2- Storytelling and Communication Styles

Everyone has their own way of telling a story.

Some people like to embellish their tales to others with fancy words, and exaggerated details. Others, like to keep things simple. They only include the necessary parts of their tale, and don’t fret over the choice of words. Some stories are short and sweet, and others are lengthy and extravagant. Some stories are written down on paper, while others are shared through video blogging.

No matter how a story is shared, a good story has to include a few key techniques. These include things such as passion, clarity, structure, good grammar, good spelling and good punctuation.

For me, the most important part of telling a story is to have passion for the story you’re telling. If you don’t have a passion for what you’re writing or speaking about, it’s going to shine through your words no matter how practiced you are in communicating. People have a sense of these things, and it just makes for a better story if you truly care about what you’re speaking about. You really want your readers or listeners to understand what you want to communicate to them, and hope that you can get them to care about it as well.

Structure ties this passion together, of course. You want to keep your readers or listeners interested in what you’re saying, so it’s a good idea to bring in a mix of your most and least interesting points at the start of your story. The more interesting or compelling parts of your story hooks your audience in, and gets them paying attention to what you’re telling them, so that you can keep them interested while you communicate all of your points. Just be careful not to reveal too much at once- If you give away all your “juicy” content, readers and listeners will tune out after getting the main point of what they stayed for. You have to tease it in before you reveal it all.

And, of course, no one wants to read a story filled with poor grammar, spelling and punctuation, so please be sure to proof-read your content before posting. It’s worth the trouble.

Just for fun, I thought I’d share a Youtube video I found a few years back. This Youtuber, who goes by OlanRogers, dapples in a few different styles of video content, but his storytelling technique is one of the best I’ve ever heard.

I hope you enjoy, and thank you for reading!

COM0014-Blog 2: Storytelling and Communication Styles – Iliana Auverana


This lesson about becoming a “Digital Storyteller” has been extremely useful. Before reading these notes, I believed that telling a story was all about having an interesting subject, being structured and making all the sentences fit together.

Now, I realize that the inverted pyramid writing concept is an excellent way of focusing on a purpose when we write. Having this idea in mind help writers build a story around one single idea, and the readers grasp the message as soon as they fix their eyes on the first lines of an article.

Communication styles

In all communications, it is important to be clear and concise, in order to get people interested and keep them reading until the end. Brian Clark explains the different levels of reading: elementary, inspectional, analytical and syntopical. We not only want people to absorb the information (analytical level) but we want them to get engaged by giving feedback and create new ideas from our content and share it (syntopical level).

Encouraging interaction with your audience

I tried to apply the principles I learned here to my job. I learned that the most important thing to encourage interaction is to obtain a clear idea of what we want from our audience:

– do we want then to leave comments to understand their needs, their problems, or the solutions they are looking for;

– do we want them to help us promote our products or services by sharing with others?;

We have to ask specific questions and have sharable content (useful, easy to read, interesting, human, controversial, original and current).