Ottawa Fashion Network: Event Participation

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Image from Facebook

Networking in person, especially in the winter, can be a struggle. When I saw this event on Eventbrite, an event management website, I thought I would give it a shot since I am interested in fashion and would like to meet others with similar interests here in Ottawa.

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My Golden Ticket

Not expecting the pouring rain, I still hustled myself over to the venue by myself and am glad I did. I was a bit nervous at first, since there weren’t too many people there and everyone seemed to already be in friend groups. The loud music didn’t help things.

However, luckily I found another girl who was also there by herself and sat near her. We got to talking after a little while, both glad to have someone to talk to and get to know!

Surprisingly, she was also in communications and we had a lot in common that we could discuss. I got her contact details (Instagram) and we plan on talking more later this week.

“You have to use what you have.”

When I was telling her all about my networking in London and how much more fun it was over there in comparison to Ottawa, she told me something that made me think which was about using what you have.

She made me rethink how I view Ottawa, and realize that there is a place for fashion and ingenuity in my home city. I always like to have new perspectives so I really appreciated that comment.

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What is different from in person events is all the preparation that is involved. I definitely spent a while planning what I was going to wear that would fit the ambiguous ‘dress to impress’ dress code.

After googling what to wear to a networking event, and what a ‘mixer’ even was, I settled on this hopefully chic look to the left.

The amount of effort it takes to look effortless is exhausting sometimes. The icing on the cake was being complimented not on my outfit, but the highlighter (makeup) on my face. Such is life!

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I was also able to see the guest list on Facebook. After scanning through, I found a designer whom I didn’t see at the event but thought was cool so I sent her a  message on Instagram.

You never know, maybe we’ll meet up some time as well! A mix between in person and online networking is key.

Overall, I am definitely glad that I went to this event and will go to more in the future when I can. I got out of my comfort zone and made a worthwhile connection. The Ottawa Fashion Network also reposted my snippet of their event, so I’m on their radar now as well which is great.

If that wasn’t enough, networking in person leads to some great appetizers! It’s rude to not eat the free food.

What kind of networking is more your style? Let me know in the comments!

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One of many events to come!

COMM0014 – Personal Reflection

After analyzing my skillset from beginning to end in this course, it became glaringly obvious that there were some gaps in my abilities to effectively convey a story to an audience. Using my newfound knowledge, I am able to quickly identify my target audience and implement an appropriate communication style that will reach them in the right way. To elaborate, using demographics and psychographics, I can make assumptions about those I am communicating to and will tweak my strategy of conveying message based on my findings.

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Why is storytelling crucial to creating great Digital content?

Whether it be in person, online and numerous other mechanisms of storytelling, you are always trying to sell people on an idea and have to implement the right strategy in order to get them interested. When approaching a story in person, there are many factors that differ compared to digital content. You can see peoples reaction, make judgement based on these findings, and therefore create your story based on what works. With digital content, you are making an assumption about those who you are telling a story to and have much less to work with. Often with digital content you must be overly cautious of the things you say in order to not offend any group you are trying to reach. For example, when creating great digital content that on the political spectrum, it is much to do prior research and analysis to determine if your target audience leans more left or right. Through this research, you can then tailor a story that will appeal to the group you are reaching and do not risk offending as many people. The creation of great content takes lots of trial and error but is certainly possible with the right amount of effort.

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How will your content be guided by story?

Content is guided by story no matter what approach you take. Think about companies who are selling a product and provide a backstory or use a tag such as “Established in 1942.” These are all part of telling the story in order to intrigue consumers into buying something you are selling. Whether it is a social media outlet, a business, a Facebook group, or any sort of digital platform, you ability to succeed and stand out from others depends on your ability to tell a story effectively. Look at Twitter as an example. Everyone has the same amount of characters per tweet to convey a message and get people interested in what they are selling. However, we can see that some people are able to thrive on this platform while others have issues with the restrictive threshold of words. I always despise the posts with 10+ “tweets”, assuming that I will ever take the time to read through all of them to understand a message they’re putting forward. I believe the restrictive nature of Twitter is one of the best aspects of the platform given it forces people to tell their story in a a very brief manner. Those who thrive are always the ones who grab their target audience’s attention quickly and get to their point immediately.

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What kind of stories do you want to tell?

After rambling on about people who do not tell stories quickly enough, I realized that I am already over the word count, so I will keep this brief. The types of stories I will tell depend entirely on the audience at hand and the message I am trying to convey. One of the most crucial parts of thriving online is adaptability and I believe that this is a skill we are always working on. Hopefully with more practice I am able to pinpoint my skillsets with online storytelling and will learn to cut down on unnecessary words. For now, I am simply trying to learn more about myself and tell my stories thus far on experiences I’ve had over my short lifetime. This course has been fantastic for self-introspection and I believe I learned a lot about who I am as a storyteller throughout it.

COM0015 – Assignment 1 -Blog 4 – Out of the Box

Combining everything that we already knew about SOCIAL MEDIA with all the cases we’ve studied and all the best tools that are to be had: it feels like I’m only ever getting half-way to a solution.  Before starting this program, I thought I had a hunch about a few tools and programs out there in the real world of business meets social media… but.. wait a minute: ‘Things are changing… how will I ever keep up?’

LISTENING + LEARNING + STAYING IN ACTION  = keep to keeping up with trends and generating new ways of looking at the world through the lens of #SocialMediaMeetsBusiness.

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So what do I hope to accomplish with social media?  Is it working? Well, I’m constantly learning new tricks.

From what I gather, I’m using platforms that are suited to my particular field and/or project(s.)  I’m learning from others about the varied style of communication using social media = the ins and outs of sharing your message.  What works for some people is worth a try but it might not quite work for me.  I guess it’s all a question of finding a style and sticking to it..

GOING MOBILE?  Here are a few tools that might come in handy…

I’m always looking for social media inspiration: taking free webinars and online courses.  I have found a whole bunch of useful information about how mobile apps come into play

Instagram can house short videos… Hilary Rushford, of Dean Street Society, hosted a webinar called: ‘Doubling Your Instagram Following.’

Distributing a free workbook, her program talked about free tools for editing and posting images on Instagram.

VSCO CAM = where you add a photo to your library and she talked us through using the editing tools.

@HilaryRushford also talked about the PERISCOPE App = live mobile video streaming; which works really well when you’re sharing content on a road trip, from various locations.

Another useful tool that I’ve grown to love is HOOTSUITE Suggestions...

Right from my iPhone, I am able to call up HOT TOPICS that I can easily share on my Twitter and Facebook accounts.

FYI>> It gives you THREE topics to search for and you can assign unlimited accounts… so make sure that you tweak the settings before posting on multiple accounts.  Be #strategic in what you post and where.  Double check your postings on each platform to catch anything that goes wrong.  If in doubt, delete and give it another try.  Skill takes practice.

Puzzled by PINNING?

PINTEREST is a social media platform that would appear to have limited application to business… but Melanie Duncan’s webinar gave me a whole bunch of information about optimizing this platform to steer traffic from PINS back to your company site.

> The type of material you PIN is part of the formula.  Inforgraphics are the most popular format (they spread like wild fire.)

Melanie also suggest the following tools:

PICMonkey =  Protecting your content with a watermark

Easily creating infographics = www.infogr.am

Getting a Pinterest tab for your Facebook Page = www.woobox.com/pinterest

Pinterest stuff = Courtesy of Melanie Duncan (www.powerofpinning.com/course

> The BLOGEME poster thingy I built (featured image)  still lives on scribd.com which I’ve embedded on my personal blog (backdoor access = click expand button on bottom corner) http://ow.ly/MFQx302Y1sy

How social do you need to be? COM0011 Blog #1

As corporate communications professionals, it is our job to make sure that we keep up with the ever changing landscape of communications. Social media is an integral part of the way many companies (and people) communicate to their customers and followers. However, social media is constantly changing and how we use social media is as well.

Twitter is a very interesting model and concept for companies and people who want to be “social”. The premise of Twitter is to be short and sweet with the point you are trying to make. As a person who manages a company Twitter account, I know just how difficult a task this can be sometimes. I also however know the value of quickly scrolling through a Twitter feed and catching important tweets on topics of interest. With a tweet, a story or company only has 140 characters to get to the point, so the point or important information is often located in the tweet. This is helpful when you don’t want to read a whole report or story to find our information.

It’s an interesting concept that Twitter is now considering increasing the character limit, with some reports saying it could be as high as 10,000 characters. Just when did 140 characters not become enough? For some people the 140 limit is enough but for others the character limit is not enough to get their point across and they are using creative ways to get around it including using links, pictures or videos to help provide more context.

The question really is why does Twitter feel the need to expand the Twitter character limit when there are other social media channels and sites that can easily meet the demand?. Most companies, and people, have more than one social media account and know what information they should share on which. If I have a quick stat or point I need to make I send it out on Twitter, sometimes with a link to a press release, backgrounder or story that provides more context and information for those looking for it. If I need to explain a topic or issue I know to put it on our LinkedIn account, or some companies use Facebook, to help get a longer story or objective across. 

Although there is obviously a need to be met if Twitter is thinking of expanding its character limit, I think they should take a long hard look at the history of Twitter and the success it built with just 140 characters. 
Is this change part of a revolution, where social media channels (and their companies) feel the need or pressure to evolve past what they were originally created for? Will we start seeing other social media companies changing how people communicate on their sites?

I’m not sure if these questions will get answered, but it certainly may get people thinking about how social they are or need to be to get their point across. Do you know how social you need to be?

  

The 4 Top Beginner Blogging Mistakes

 

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So you’ve decided to start a blog.  After all, those insightful scribbles on Evernote are burning a proverbial hole in your back pocket.   Before you sit at the computer and fire up WordPress however, you might want to take stock of common errors newbies can make in the rush to publish.

1. Not having a clear end goal

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Why are your writing?  What’s the purpose of your blog or post?  Are you trying to establish yourself as an influencer in a niche market?  Are you trying to persuade customers to buy a product you make?  Are you building readership to attract advertisers or launching a YouTube Channel and looking for subscribers?  The more specific you are in answering these questions the more aligned and purposeful your writing will be.cc-zero

2. Not truly understanding your audience, or what their problems are

problem-1020300_1280You might think if you know what your purpose is in writing you’ll also know who you’re writing for, but chances are you’ll need to dig deeper.    Blogs are a dime a dozen, but you’ll be ahead of your competition if you do the research needed to identify your target market .

Once you understand who your audience is, and what their needs are, you can be far more relevant to them.   You’ll be able to tailor your writing or video blogging style to them, and you’ll be able to deliver content they actually want.

3. Not Writing Well

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If your writing is disorganized, unclear, and grammatically incorrect then you aren’t credible to your audience.

Sloppy, disorganized writing is a result of not knowing your story focus well enough to structure a beginning, middle, and end.  If you’re struggling with structure go back to Mistake No. 1 and answer the questions to correct the problem so you can move forward.cc-zero

Once you know your focus you can use the inverted pyramid method to prioritize you’re story content.  The inverted pyramid method prevents you from burying your lead and your readers’ interest with it.

Use headers and sub-headers to grab readers’ attention, and to allow them to skim your post to decide if they want to read it more carefully.

Finally, when you start to write remember to use clear sentences, in an active voice, with proper spelling and grammar.

I spent 20 years writing for television, and that led to some bad habits.  For that reason I check and double check my spelling and grammar.   English Grammar for Dummies has a place of honor on my desk, there’s also great on-line resources to double check your work.  So do it!

Here’s a great article from Poynter’s University (a university for working journalists) with more tips about writing on-line.

4. Not making a meaningful contribution

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A cow chews its food, and then regurgitates it, and then chews it again to digest it properly.   When you regurgitate information that you culled from other sources, but offer nothing new, you’re about as compelling as that cow chewing its cud.     So be sure that you have gone the extra mile to provide meaningful analysis to interesting questions that enriches the on-line community you belong to.  (Sourced from @Brian Clark, How to Read)cc-zero

 

My BOXING Match (COM011 blog # 6)

 

UnknownRENTALNo ifs ands or bits about it… My two roommates + two cats have been looking for a new place to live since Hurricane Patricia made a dead tree fall on our homestead on October 29th, 2015.  Revealing our quaint, vintage dwelling for the shifty, hydro-hungry beast that she has come to be: we were confronted with a dilemma. Do we move or grin and bear it until the summer?  Our current landlord kind of made our decision for us. (We found out from the electrician that he had no intention of addressing our malfunctioning bathroom light or the faulty electrical outlet conspicuously perched under my desk.)

While I may have been alarmed, let’s say ten years ago, the real estate market for renters in the present tense is fairly accessible.  Kijiji, Craig’s List and Used Ottawa are staple facilitators… and now we just had to look at more listings than are probably healthy to look at and hope and wish and pray that one might come along that would suit our particular needs.realtywarp_screen

My boxing match = A life in boxes… Independent of boxing day or the requisite annual rummage sale that forces you to part with things that you might not have even remembered still belonged to you.

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Does this sound familiar?  Well, for me: moving in the winter seems to be an unavoidable phenomenon for me.  Most of the people I’ve been talking to about our situation cringe at the very thought of moving… “In December?”

In a virtual maze of real estate ads, riddled with the odd ‘I’m looking for..” query: social media takes its place as a virtual coping mechanism.  No… I don’t want to spend too much effort complaining about how hopeless my situation feels at times but I do need to keep it real.  Honesty is the best policy?  Remember that piece of grade school wisdom that we were habitually reminded of?telling-the-truth

Honestly?  I’m not panicking but I have minor surgery booked next Tuesday and that means we have less than a week to secure a new place to live.  Oooh… maybe I can turn this into a serial novel.  Flash fiction?  The making of… tomorrow?  Seriously, interactions with all my friends and cohorts are the only thing that’s keeping me sane right now… and that’s a good thing.  True, I’ve been feeling a little stressed and scattered: trying to find a new place to live in less than a month… But now that we’ve reconciled ourselves to sort of living and kind of working in a box full of dismantled furniture and stacks of boxes: this is where the fun begins.

Most of you can probably appreciate my sentiments when I think about ushering in the holiday season without the will to decorate properly.  I am so far from scrooge!  This is painful… and then I think about the practicality of the situation and I get over myself until the next time I look longingly at a Christmas tree.  When I feel lonely or want to see holiday cheer?  Mmm? -Aybe talking to Facebook can help me ward off the humbugs?  Campaign Christmas: share your favourite Christmas photos and stories with me?  What do you think?  Spread the holiday cheer: what we all need this time of year!

Most wonderful time of the year

 BTW: Thanks for being such a hip and happening community!  You’re awesome!

COM0014 – Personal Reflection

Reflecting on the concepts presented in this course

I think the most important aspect of this course was that communicators should not forget the research phase. Listen to what people are saying online and discover their needs before beginning to write. Describing the target audience is an extremely important part of research and must come before developing key messages. Communications styles must be considered first. Then the story can start to form around these pillars.

Storytelling: Its importance in creating great digital content

Everyone loves a story. They look for details or incidents that are familiar to them. They love to say “did that, been there”. My goal is to tell a story that allows the reader to relate so they nod their heads in understanding, and keep reading to find out what’s coming next.

My content guided by storytelling

Since I’ve been working in marketing for many years, thinking about everyday life experiences in business should be easy. The challenge will be finding situations that others can relate to and finding a way to weave a story around them. I intend to use experiences from my past work at different marketing agencies and tell stories that provide lessons for readers in this field. I plan to develop stories  around real cases consisting of what worked, what didn’t work, and why.

The kind of stories I want to tell

I want to tell stories that make people want to hire me as a writer or digital marketer and showcase my skills in project management, organization, idea generation. I particularly enjoyed the last lesson of this course which told the legend of the Golden Spruce. There was great symbolism providing a lesson about always looking forward, and not looking back in case of being frozen in the past. This inspired me in writing my last post in which I discussed some of my disappointments and how I handled them. After finishing this course, I plan to write stories that:

  • Use humour
  • Create anticipation. People love the “Aha! moment”.
  • Inspire my target audience to take action
  • Reiterate legends that provide lessons in business and life in general
  • Relate to marketing and communications, using possible case studies

Hopefully, I’ll be able to incorporate the human element into each of them and draw readers in who connect to me and recognize that they need a personable and competent digital marketer and writer.

COM0014 – Personal Brand

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Hi, I’m Sheila. Nice to meet you. I’m here to help you grow your business using a detail-oriented, well-managed approach and digital marketing and communications. I hope you’ll allow me to add remarkable and distinctive value to your business through blogging, social media, workshop events, writing for your website and email marketing. I’m nerd chic in several departments and proud of it!

Here’s a sample of what I’m all about:

Foreseer of Needs

A long time ago in a galaxy far away, I became a digital packrat. That is, I developed a knack for collecting data about stuff. Any stuff would do. The number of hours we spent monthly on something, the price of stuff this year and last year and the year before that, the ideas everyone came up with but didn’t have the time or money to execute. You name it, I collected it. Usually on Excel spreadsheets so I could play with the data in ways that made me smile. This might seem like a waste of time until one day when you ask me something like this:

“Sheila, do you know how many jiggity-jiggets we made in April 2011?”

I give you the answer within two minutes and apologize for being so slow.

Error Sleuth / Assassin

How do you spend your time during an evening of eating, drinking and making merry? Know anyone who enjoys finding errors on restaurant menus when out for a night of fun? If you said no, then you’ve obviously never been out to dinner with me. Just ask my family members who somehow tolerate the game I call “Magic, The Gathering . . . of Proofreaders”:

Sheila: “Did you see this?”

Family: “WHAT?” (anticipating some sickeningly bizarre food item).

Sheila: “Look how they spelled ESCARGOT! Jeeeezzz!”

Family: “Uh yeah” (rolling eyes), “that’s just awful. Have you decided what you’re ordering?”

When this pastime of mine is used in business, the errors have no chance. They’re hiding. And I guarantee you, they are there. I will find them and chop their heads off before they have a chance to go out in public. They are dead meat when I’m proofing or editing your stuff.

Chaos Tamer

For a Chaos Tamer, this is where business gets really fun:

Your business is a zoo and someone has to control the critters with the big claws. Are you the CEO of a small company or not-for-profit and have more ideas than staff to execute them? Do you switch gears every five minutes because you just can’t NOT do something every time a thought pops into your head? Do you use nouns like “planning – schmlanning”? If yes, then you need me. I will tame the crazy-factor and force you (temporarily) to stop being a visionary while we decide how to execute the last ten ideas you had in the same number of hours. Some people think organizing and planning is a waste of  time because there’s work to do. Those people went out of business. Don’t be one of them.

Mistress of Ideas / Content Creator

I’m a writer. I have no idea where these ideas come from. They just keep popping into my head. Sometimes my fingers hurt because I can’t type as fast as I think them up. It’d be such a shame to waste all this great stuff. Let’s use these cool ideas to tell the stories you want your customers or donors to know. Whatever they need – information, training, entertainment, a call to action – you name it. I’ll cast my spells while we develop a relationship with them and keep them returning for more. They’re going to be your biggest fans.

And now, a little game for all you copywriters and proofreaders out there. Let’s play Spot the Typo! Somewhere in this post is a teensy-weensy error. Tell me in the comments if you find it!

COMM 0014 – Blog Post 5 – Personal Brand

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I’ve always thought the most important thing for people to remember as they navigate through life is to remain true to their inner self, to follow their moral compass.

If there’s one thing I can count on, it’s my integrity.

I tell myself it’s a commendable trait, and I’m proud of it, but it can be a major pain in the butt. If I wasn’t so unwavering I’m sure my life would be easier in many ways. I’ve had opportunities to take jobs at significantly higher salaries, but it would have been at the expense of my integrity. I couldn’t do it, and I can’t do it. It’s who I am, and it will always be my overarching guide.

brandinghttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Livestock_branding#mediaviewer/File:LeftShoulderBrand.JPG

This characteristic has served me well in other ways during my professional life. It’s behind each of the trusting relationships I’ve established with employers and employees. And, in my role as a Communications Adviser, it’s something that’s valued. Establishing strong relationships through trust is at the core of developing and executing successful communications strategies. And I’m able to maintain that trust by always doing what I say I’m going to do, and delivering on schedule.

Communications plans also require someone who can anticipate and provide solutions for every conceivable outcome during its execution. That’s how I’m wired. Employers know they can rely on me to think of all possible outcomes. Minimizing surprises is a good thing, but I’m fine if there happens to be an unexpected one – people I’ve worked with say that I remain calm in pressure situations and quickly provide solutions to any crisis. And, I’ll often be able to keep us laughing the entire time.

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Most important to me is my ability to express my creativity – I almost always think outside the box, and being in that space is when I’m most valuable to others. That’s when I’m in my element. Many people can do effective communications, but I don’t want to be like others. I like trying different strategies. And I always want to do the best I can, the first time, every time.

What are your most important qualities?

COM0015- Event Participation- A Night with Alan Quarry

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“The riskiest thing we can do is play it safe. Difference and happiness lies outside of our comfort zone. It is up to us because we are leaders.”

A couple of weeks ago I attended a very interesting professional development event titled “A Night with Alan Quarry.” Alan is a local communicator that owns Quarry Integrated Communications. He is highly respected in the community and is known as a thought leader. I had heard a ton about Alan and his company but had not had a chance to meet this highly respected individual or hear how he got to where he is and his plans for moving forward. I felt this was a great opportunity, not only to network, but to look at communications from a very different perspective. The session was even recommended to my by my Manager so I was very eager to attend this event.

During the event I met several new contacts. I met “one of the best writers in Ontario,” named Bill from the Ontario Farm Association (or something close to that). The two of us along with a man working in communications at Blackberry had a very interesting discussion after the event about the life-cycle of Blackberry and where we thought things were headed. We discussed an article featured in the Globe and Mail and it was very interested to get the inside take from the communicator at Blackberry. He thought the article was honest, harsh but true. Bill and I agreed, providing insight from two very different industries.

I also chatted with a couple of individuals that I had not seen in a while. It was great to catch up on a personal level and chat about the topics and points from the presentation that we agreed with as well as those that we didn’t. One of the ideas discussed was the set up of the traditional office and overall organizational chart. Alan blew this apart, stating that in order to be creative, we cannot sit in cubicles day in and day out attempting to work our way up the corporate ladder as this is not how innovation works. This was my greatest take-away. I have always worked in an office with a cubicle and your standard org chart and this got me thinking about alternate options and if the “traditional way” really is the best way, especially when considering the next generation entering the workplace.

In summary, I would definitely attend a similar event again. I have to say that I attend at least a couple of professional development events a month and this one really stood out to me. It opened up my mind in a way that hasn’t happened before and it got me thinking, just because we have done something one way for so long, doesn’t mean that there isn’t a better way and it doesn’t mean that even if it is successful now that it will be in the future.