COM0015 – Assignment #5 – Professional development in the Government of Canada

A promising opportunity

Back in January, I participated in a webinar called “Audience Personas: A Day in the Life of your ‘Digital’ Audience”. I learned about it through a mailing list that I am on at work. It was a free, internal-to-government professional development opportunity organized by the Department of Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC), and hosted by a gentleman from Environics Analytics. I had watched a few of PSPC’s previous webinars on different issues related to marketing policies and practices for government, and, based on the title of this session, I thought it would be a good complement to my COM0015 readings, and good fodder for this assignment.

Proof that I was there

Here are a few screenshots from the webinar:

Echo…echo…echo…

Unfortunately, the experience proved to be very disappointing. The room was not equipped with microphones so that people asking questions in the room could be heard by the people participating online. Coupled with this, the presenter was clearly not used to presenting to an audience that is simultaneously in the room and online, so he did not think to repeat back the questions he was hearing for the benefit of the people online, nor did he or anyone else appear to be manning to online chat, where I and others were asking for help hearing the proceedings. The result: I interacted with no one. So much for the digital audience!

It was also disappointing from a content perspective, as the presentation talked about digital audience demographics only at a high level. Instead the presenter talked at length about the benefits of a new Environics Analytics tool that, if purchased, would provide departments with greater audience insights. Since my department has a contract with a different analytics platform, this presentation was not of much use to me.

What did I learn?

What I DID get out of this experience, was a reminder that online professional development experiences can be useful, but only if the people or organization behind it are fully committed to their online audience.

Take two

I had a much more positive professional development experience a few weeks later, in the form of a reunion of sorts with a small group of my current and former colleagues. My former director, a woman named Julie, inspired a great deal of loyalty among the people that she hired. About six years ago she moved on to a different department in government, and we, her team, have mostly gone our separate ways. But once or twice a year, someone in the group will propose an “Équipe à Julie” (Julie’s team) get-together over drinks.

Beerocracy

Part of Julie’s team at a pub in February, 2018 – Nicole, me, Edith, Claudine, Ian, Tina. Julie was kept late at the office, so we started without her.

I’m not normally one for small talk with colleagues, but gatherings of Julie’s team are usually pretty lively, and a great way to get the inside scoop on what is happening in other departments, so I decided to go.

What did I learn from the interaction?

What I learned was that, while the federal government is huge, Ottawa is still a small town – everyone knows everyone. I was also reminded that it’s wise to keep in touch with people you have enjoyed working with, because someone is always recruiting or looking to be recruited. Edith has now followed Julie to three different departments, and Julie had just recruited Nicole to join her communications shop; Nicole, in turn, promised to share her insights into that department with me once she gets settled. My contribution to the evening was to encourage others to tell their stories, share some of the things I have learned about social media and branding through my Algonquin studies, and provide ready laughter as the drinks increased and the stories around the table got sillier.

Notable quotable

There wasn’t particular quote from the evening that I remember, but there was one piece of information that was shared at the table that was noteworthy. Edith informed us that another person that we had all worked with when we were a team had very recently learned that he has Stage IV cancer; that he was about to undergo experimental treatment, but that his cancer was very likely terminal. It was very sobering, and, while it in no way compares to whatever he and his partner must be going through, it was a good reminder that, as satisfying as work itself can be, it’s the relationships we build that matter most. Everyone agreed that another get-together with a more expansive invitation list needed to be arranged soon.

Would I do it again?

Absolutely I would meet with this group again. This is a team that seems to genuinely enjoy each other’s company, and from what I have seen, is always ready to offer support, be it through personal challenges, professional dilemmas, or talent evolution. I would be lucky to continue to be remembered as a part of Julie’s team.

COMM0015: Assignment 5: Professional Development: “Creating Better Brand Content… All Year Long” Webinar

In today’s day and age, it is critical to be consistently educating yourself on the latest trends in technology and marketing.

I attended a webinar December 13th called “Create Better Brand Content… All year Long” put on by Annemaria Nicholson of Cision and Kerry O’Shea Gorgone of MarketingProfs.

The webinar was approximately about one hour, discussing how to plan content better in 2017, including being aware of possible legal pitfalls when posting social media content.

For social media success, it’s critical to have a plan in place. Kerry O’Shea Gorgone highlighted some key components of a good plan. This includes:

  1. Committing to establishing a timeline for promoting on all social channels.
  2. Catalog proposed projects.
  3. Examine Data & determine the bandwidth. For example, key performance indicators may include past overall performance, landing page views, downloads.
  4. Execute your vision. Plan sequenced content across channels while factoring in other calendar considerations (i.e. holidays, personal days, etc.).

Gargone argues it’s critical to have original rich content which should link back to the original website.

While it’s good to plan out content, one thing I was very appreciative about this webinar, was addressing possible legal issues.

 

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Photo Courtesy of Adam Johnston 

 

These issues include:

  1. Copyright, including posting pictures to a social media site. One example is photos in the Creative Commons. Although some photos maybe “ok” to use from the Creative Commons, the panelists argued that some of these photos may be stolen, and face copyright concerns. They recommend creating your images and video to prevent potential copyright concerns.
  2. Streaming Video: with the rise of live video platforms including Periscope and Facebook Live, it’s easy for many to create their live video show. However, there are some possible quagmires, as noted by both Gorgone and Nicholson, including, filming in a very public area, accidentally filming company documents scattered all over the table, or marking board. Both panelists suggest filming in an area where there is no company documents or company information which could be breached by live streaming video.

Unfortunately, the webinar did not allow an opportunity to connect with others but was just limited to question and answers. If there is one major concern I have with many webinars is the lack of interaction between other participants.

Nonetheless, I thought this was a good professional development exercise, which I will take to heart heading into 2017.

COMM0015: Blog Post 3: Professional Networking Now and in the Future

In today’s connected world, professional networking is the go to action when looking for work. Back in the old days, one could send in a resume, and get a job with just their skills. Now, professional networking is almost a necessary evil to get a job.

Today with social media, it’s easy to get into the professional networking craze. The most successful is LinkedIn, which boasts around 467 million users as of late October 2016, and attracts two new members per second.

 

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Image Courtesy of Adam Johnston 

 

Other professional networking sites currently available to boost their career and business contacts, include Viadeo, and Xing, which gives many options for those who want to get into professional networking without just using LinkedIn, the most popular professional networking site.

Currently, for professional networking, I use LinkedIn, has been minimal at best. There has been lots of debate on the usefulness of professional networking sites like LinkedIn. Many recommend professional networking to move careers forward. Others have been critical to suggest sites like LinkedIn, do not create the interaction like Facebook, or Twitter.

However, professional networking sites do have an advantage because they are just that: professional networking sites. They are not there to discuss your kid’s tooth or that ugly Christmas sweater. These sites are for building careers, and businesses. Which is good.

Over the next twelve months, I plan to diversify my professional networking strategy. I am finding LinkedIn and online is limited. I look to use other professional networking sites, including Viadeo, to expand professional contacts, along with LinkedIn, outside of Winnipeg.

I will look to develop more local contacts, by using Meetup.com more. Meetup.com allows users to set up groups related to their interests, and plan events around the groups. With many groups focused on technology and entrepreneurship in Winnipeg, there is potential to grow my network locally, rather than just using LinkedIn.

What role does professional networking on social media have for you? Is it over-rated like some critics suggest? Do the benefits exceed the costs?

 

COM0015, Blog 3: My Professional Networking

Having a professional networking strategy that incorporates an online presence with face-to-face opportunities is nothing new to me. When it was time to leave my last job, I let my networks know and ensured my LinkedIn profile was up to date. While I was away on a vacation, there was a lot of activity on my profile and a voicemail message from John, the printing rep for the medical journals I was producing at the time. John had spoken with his coworker, Randy, who is the rep for Canadian Nurse, the magazine I am currently producing. Not only had Randy viewed my LinkedIn profile, so too did the Canadian Nurse editor-in-chief (EIC) who was looking for a new managing editor. The EIC messaged me, we met and the rest, as they say, is history.

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Virginia St-Denis

My professional network not only includes people I have worked with over the past 25 years and connections of connections on LinkedIn, but also various professional groups of which I am a member. With most of my career being writing and editing, I joined Editors Canada. The Ottawa-Gatineau branch offers monthly speaker nights and seminars (for example, see COM0015, Assignment 5: Writing and Editing for the Web). These are not only great opportunities for professional development, but also for meeting other editors in the National Capital Region. Editors Canada has an annual conference, which brings together editors from across Canada and beyond. In celebration of Canada’s 150th, the Ottawa-Gatineau branch will host the event June 9-11, 2017. I will attend to learn, share information and gain a few more contacts, I hope.

While I have covered the cost of Editors Canada activities myself, I find out-of-town professional development and networking opportunities outside of my budget. I’m thankful that my EIC has agreed to cover the cost of travel, accommodation and registration for MagNet: Canada’s Magazine Conference. Held in Toronto April 25-28, 2017, MagNet draws magazine professionals from across Canada, and not just editorial, but also design and circulation.

While my career has focused on writing and editing, my husband and I hope to turn our photography hobby into a retirement business. Whether a hobby or a business (we could charge for presenting workshops), Photography Meetup groups like the Ottawa Photography Meetup Group, Ottawa Photography Events, Ottawa Photography and Ottawa Nature and Conservation Photography Workshops are a great way to meet new people, learn and share knowledge.

One thing I know I need to do better is attending club meetings. While some groups like the Orleans Photo Club are inexpensive to join, others like the RA Photo Club are not. I also want to find out more about Facebook events as another way to meet people in the Ottawa area.

COM0015, Assignment 5: Writing and Editing for the Web

I am a 25-year publishing professional—writing, editing, photographing, desktop publishing and managing newspapers, magazines and journals. The majority of my work has been in print and I have personally experienced the decline in this industry. To help me transition into online and social media platforms, I am taking various courses and seminars.

One such seminar was Writing and Editing for the Web through the Ottawa-Gatineau Branch of Editors Canada I read printed material differently than I read web pages and I don’t think I’m alone. I wanted to learn the difference so I could better use online platforms to meet my readers’ wants and needs.

Moira White of Ubiquitext and past president of Editors Canada presented the full-day seminar on Nov. 24. I was particularly interested in learning techniques that draw readers to web pages and creating engaging content to keep them there longer.

For Moira, the answer to my question of how people read online today is simple: They don’t! (How’s that for a quotable quote? lol) Most people skim for information.

As a November 2013 report showed (a reference was not provided), more people get information on their mobile devices than their laptop and desktop computers. Mobile devices have narrower columns of text, giving the illusion of longer, more intimidating paragraphs. I need to remember to provide bite-sized chunks of information in smaller paragraphs because of that one fact.

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During the Writing and Editing for the Web seminar for Editors Canada, Moira White explains how writers encode and readers decode information. Depending on the medium writers choose to share their messages, readers can provide feedback, creating a loop.

As well, people retain less information when reading online, which makes organizing information into small chunks and providing plenty of headings even more important.

Moira suggests writing for the web should answer only three questions in this order:

  1. What?
  2. So what?
  3. Now what?

This gets the take-home message out quickly and succinctly, then provides context before making a call to action.

She also suggests starting each paragraph with a topic sentence (remember those from grade school?) For those who don’t remember, the first sentence of each paragraph introduces what the rest of the paragraph will be about. If readers want more information, they will read it. If not, they go to the next paragraph.

Networking While Learning

Sitting at the table with me were Jean Forrest from the Public Health Agency of Canada and Nikki Burke from Statistics Canada. Most of our discussion was about change: in our work environments, in language and in technology. Although neither uses social media, I shared that I am taking Algonquin College’s Social Media certificate program in hopes to expanding beyond print. Because the program doesn’t cover the basics about how to use each social media platform, I’m reading Social Media for Writers: Marking Strategies for Building Your Audience and Selling Books (Tee Morris and Pip Ballantine, 2015). I pulled the book out of my purse as I was reading it on the bus, and they each wrote down the name.

I also talked with Tricia Diduch from the Federation of Law Societies of Canada and Josephine Versace from the Government of Canada Translation Bureau during the lunch break. Along with talking about the seminar content, we discussed social media, Algonquin’s program and my search for social media basics and best practices. They were also interested in finding best practices and said they would talk with social media people in their offices and email me information, which I need to follow up about.

As an Editors Canada member, I get a $125 discount on each of their seminars. The majority of the six seminars I took last year and two I’ve already taken this year (I have one more in March), have been invaluable. I expect I will take more next year. I highly recommend them.

COM0015 Assignment 5 “Event Participation”

Recently I attended a virtual career fair. “The Success Spotlight” was offered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). The CRA prides itself on being one of Canada’s top 100 employers because it offers:

  • meaningful career opportunities
  • room for advancement
  • work-life balance
  • career opportunities across Canada.

I chose to attend this event for several reasons; first, to satisfy my course requirement. Second, I am an instructor in the School of Business at College of the North Atlantic and wondered if this event would be relevant to my students. Since the CRA is hosting this event several times over a two weeks, I can recommend that my students attend one of the sessions.  Last, because I teach online I enjoy exploring different tools such as a live event.

Here’s a screen capture of me attending the event which was hosted by two CRA employees:

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CRA Career Fair October 2016

I was disappointed that I could not see a complete list of attendees.  It felt like I was the only one attending, because I could only see my name. It wasn’t until the question and answer session at the end that I realized others were there.  Feeling I was alone in the session, I didn’t ask questions until the end.  I became more interactive with both the hosts and building on some of the questions that other participants asked in the Q and A.

My questions:

  1. Why the need for a virtual job fair as opposed to a traditional job fair and do you offer both formats?
  2. In your pool of applicants, do you feel there are key elements missing; i.e. communication skills? hard skills?
  3. How does the CRA use social media in recruiting; specifically, LinkedIn?

I like the idea of using a virtual career fair.  I like that it’s real time. However, it is still two talking heads. Without seeing a list of candidates,  it made for an awkward setting. The slides could be more dynamic. There could be polls and other ways to engage the audience.

Yes, I will definitely attend a similar event. I am registered for a blended learning webinar session from the Online Learning Consortium on October 5.

 

There are still more sessions offered throughout October, if you are interested in attending, click here CRA Career Fair Registration

COM0015 – Assignment #5: Event Participation

As a senior communications professional, I sometimes find it difficult to make it out to professional networking and professional development events. I find these to be very important for my career and those that I have attended have been quite useful. The trouble is fitting them in to a busy schedule! For this reason, I usually like to do my professional networking and professional development online.

This course for example is professional development for me as I hope to broaden my skills and social media knowledge to help my organization with their social media strategy.

As a member of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), I am able to participate in a lot of the professional development and networking events. One of their professional development events I like to participate in is their weekly #CommChat where professionals across North America can discuss important topics and give insight on new tools and resources.

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I like this event because it happens every week and they discuss different topics that are timely to communications professionals. One of their recent sessions that I really enjoyed was the one where they were discussing the importance of professional development and the benefits of online classes and workshops.

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I found it really interesting interacting with different people from across North America, but also people who were in different levels of the career. It gave me an understanding of the types of courses and workshops they participated in that better helped them progress in their career. I appreciated hearing what worked well for them and what didn’t. It was also reassuring to hear fellow professionals have the same feelings as me about time management and the value of online courses.

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I think the event encouraged me to look into taking more online courses and the value just straight networking can have on your learning and the resources and skills you can obtain. I certainly plan to participate in these events in the future, although I don’t believe every Wednesday will be feasible! I also would like to try and interact more directly with those professionals taking part in the chat to help broaden my network.

Side note: Although everyone may not have the ability to be a full member of IABC, their #CommChat is fully accessible through Twitter so anyone can follow along!

 

 

COM0015 – Blog #3: Professional Networking now and in the future

Professional networking is very important in the development of a career. I don’t think it matters what field you are in, with a little bit of networking your resources and networks can grow and open up opportunities for you. It doesn’t matter whether you are the CEO of a company or someone lower on the totem pole, networking is important.

I think as communications professionals, networking is super important because the bigger the network, the more contacts you have to discuss strategies and projects, and also can possibly get a heads up from if they know a big story is coming down the pipeline.

Networking is important to me and it is one of the reasons I have continued my membership with the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC).  The local chapters hold great networking events to get local communicators in the same room, networking and discussing important topics. I used to attend these events regularly but as my career has expanded I found it difficult to continue them. I do plan and try to get out to more events in the next year, as I made a lot of connections in those early events, some that have helped me with job positions in their company and some have shared important advice.

While searching for some good external resources to source in this blog, I came across the following video that discusses the importance of networking and belonging to professional associations/organizations. It is a bit dated but I think the message is still important and valid.

 

On top of attending IABC events in person, I also plan on taking part in a few more of their online networking events. One event that I enjoy participating in is their weekly Twitter chats #CommChat.

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I plan to continue to participate in these events as it allows me to interact with people across North America and also gives me great resources and tools for which I can expand my skills set.

On top of the IABC networking I plan to also take part in more of the networking opportunities that my place of employment offers. These are a great way to meet new contacts within my organization, but also increase my knowledge on a topic that relates to my job.

COM 0015 – Assignment 5 – Event Participation

Professional Development 2-for-1: that’s how it happened for me….

      Trying to figure out what would be the best professional development ‘EVENT’ was a tricky one.  Where do I go? What do I do?  What do I say about it?  So… I did two events in one  day… and lived to tell the tale: in blog format, no less. 🙂

For years now, I’ve been working towards pursuing a career as a freelance superhero, writer and possibility creator.  An active part of the Ottawa Writing Circle’s Meetup group, I have attended several of their workshops, social mixers and I finally decided to venture out of my comfort zone to see what their OWC WRITE IN event had to offer.  I have always been a very solitary figure as a writer.  True, I’ve had my share of group writing and editing opportunities over the years, but this opportunity was a little bit different.

When I met up with our coordinator, Averill (@averillelisa), there were two more participants pecking away at their respective writing projects.  Prior to our meeting, I had mentioned the event on Twitter– Thank you @Averillelisa for giving me my first Twitter conversation in real-time!!  Not only did we mention each other by Twitter id: it also gave me an opportunity to learn new conversation skills with someone who actually Twitter talked back.

OWCCollage

The write-in group included such writing personalities as Averill Eisa Frankes (bottom left w/ me), Alexandra, Ariel, Belle Alvine, James W. Cook, Michelle Human, Nick HJ, Sanna, Tamara and me.  (all mentioned are profile names for our Meetup Ottawa Writer’s Circle Group)

      Writers periodically dropped in and introduced themselves and we did have a discreet ongoing conversation; politely asking how it was going when we caught someone blankly staring at their screen. Averill did forewarn me that there were no outlets or wifi at the world exchange plaza foodcourt, so I had made a game plan in advance. I went with my trusty fully charged MacBook Pro and I used my iPhone to call up any images that I needed to play with. Airdropping stuff from my phone to my computer has become a regular practice for me— way less grunt-work!

“Can’t edit a blank page,” is one token of writerly wisdom that Averill left me with: short, sweet and to the point.

       Same day, different location…

45 minutes after leaving the world exchange food-court?  Yeah… I managed to haul myself and my amazing computer all the way home with a quick, portable fre-fab food that I picked up at Sobey’s with roughly 5 minutes to spare.

       When I initially signed up for this online event, I thought that it might have video or some sort of interactive discussion.  They’d been reminding me via text and email and I’d even built it into my calendar as a backup.   I’ve done a whole lot of reading of a whole lot of books and listened to audiotapes with these fine fellows.  Luminaries and philosophers and authors all rolled into one: they have distinctively different appreciation for social media.

DSETChaos

So, I rushed home and plugged my trusty MacBook pro into my television so I could see everything hi-def… and then, it turned out that their ‘BEAUTIFUL CHAOS: How to find meaning in a messy world’ (link for encore presentation) was audio only via internet that combined the sharing power of Deepak Chopra with Eckhart Tolle’s Power of Being perspective.  Bummer.I sucked it up and listened and took notes anyway.  The simplicity of the presentation worked well: zero technical glitches or distractions throughout.

Common narratives revolved around the power of transformation on the other side of catastrophe and their usual ‘this is how you can build power from powerless’ mantra.  The one super interesting part of their presentation talked about the tole of social media in our society at large and how it can be used to make a positive impact.

Eckart made an interesting analogy to Narcissus, touching on the superficial, facade based practices of social media.  Admittedly, he doesn’t really use it much at all.  On the other side of the coin, Deepak Chopra sees the power in social media for human creativity: becoming  “a catalyst for collective awakening.”  He brought an interesting perspective to the conversation.  Talking about the power of luminaries to share their knowledge and experience with the world, Deepak sees social media as the opportunity to have more luminaries present on the world-stage.

Left exhausted and inspired by the onslaught of creative input and my own interpretation of how challenging and rewarding this social media rich, professional developmental day could be for me: my plans for a luminescent empowering career path took shape.  I’m continually proving to myself that I am willing to try the impossible.  Let’s face it, in my world ‘Impossible’ is what a scaredy cat says when confronted with something that seems too big to conquer.  Giving up the ‘im’ part of that equation is what transformation is all about–

Transform the IMPOSSIBLE into a POSSIBILITY!!

 

 

 

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.

 

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