Monday, 17 December 2012

America's gun obsession

I have nothing to add to the words that have already been written and will continue to be written about the most recent massacre of children in the United States. Linked below is a piece by the CBC's Neil Macdonald which sums up my thoughts quite well.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Festival of Lights

It's holiday time for many of us. In my case, that holiday is Chanuka (however you spell it) and for us it's an opportunity to lavish attention and gifts on our two wonderful children.

I am not sure, by the way, if I'm okay with all of the messages from the Chanuka story but no matter, it's about festive and seasonal celebration and not religous observance for my family.

It is our multicultural "Festival of Lights" and all are welcome to join our celebration!

And whatever holiday you wish to celebrate, I wish you best of the season.

Thursday, 6 December 2012


Like many others, I've been getting a lot of my news from my SmartPhone. Sure I still read the papers, but I also read a lot of "newspaper" articles on my phone. And I've noticed - and that means you, - a lot of articles include updates for correction. Is the rush to be "first" making online journalism sloppy? Just asking...And I will continue also to read print newspapers for as long as they're making them.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

This post pre-empted by (yet another) bike theft

Good morning, all. I had originally intended to write about yesterday's court decision which found Toronto's ignorant and incompetent mayor Rob Ford guilty of conflict of interest charges. However we woke up today to discover that a thief (or thieves) had entered our garage - again - had a look inside the car and stolen my brand new bicycle (which was itself a replacement bike for one which was stolen over the summer.) So that is what's occupying my thoughts right now. If you are reading this, please wish for some good fortune to come my way. A blog post about the Rob Ford situation is sure to follow. Thanks for your patience!

Thursday, 15 November 2012

This Hour Has 22 Minutes

What would you do if you were suddenly confronted by a comedian with a television camera and microphone? Toronto mayor Rob Ford recently provided a perfect example of what not to do. When confronted outside his home by well-known comedian Mary Walsh, he beat a hasty retreat back into his house and called the police!

Now I suppose it's possible that Ford didn't recognize Mary Walsh from her popular TV show, This Hour Has 22 Minutes (possible - but highly unlikely.) But Walsh, in the guise of her comedic character Marg Delahunty, has surprised many Canadian public figures with a sneak ambush. Others, like filmmaker/activist Michael Moore, have made a career of trying to embarass public figures with on the spot interviews. Almost all of them - the smarter ones (this excludes Mayor Ford) - have just played along and enjoyed the moment. This approach BTW, is what I would recommend to my clients if they ever find themselves in that situation. Nothing looks worse than hiding from the camera or giving the impression that you can't take a joke. Just suck it up, folks.

A final note - I may have to take issue with Mary Walsh/CBC for confronting Rob Ford at his home. Public officials - even Rob Ford - have a right to a reasonable amount of privacy when at home. But had they buttonholed Ford outside his office that would be totally fair game. You've been warned!

Monday, 5 November 2012


Like almost everyone else I know, I've been following the US presidential campaign quite closely. Almost all of my friends and associates are firmly in the Obama camp. I must confess that I don't see a great deal of difference between the two candidates except for their pigment.

Actually - I must admit that I too find Obama slightly better on social issues (gay rights, women's rights, abortion, etc.) but for various reasons, I find it impossible to be an enthusiastic Obama supporter.

How would I vote if I were American? A lot would depend on whether I lived in a "swing state" or not.

In any case, we will know the outcome soon.

November 7th update. Now we know!

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Aftermath of "Sandy."

I'm pleased to report that Hurricane Sandy which over the last few days has devastated parts of the U.S. eastern seabord had virtually no effect on the Klein household whatsoever (in case you were worried) even though other parts of downtown Toronto were affected.

In the past, this neighborhood seemed particularly prone to power blackouts, but we didn't have even a temporary blip without electricity. No flooding either.

My sympathies to others facing more difficult challenges due to the storm.

And tonight is Halloween. Here's hoping it stays dry long enough to let my sons collect their candy in comfort!

Monday, 22 October 2012

Don't lie

One key rule of crisis communications/media relations is - never lie. The public will forgive honest (and even occasionally dishonest) mistakes. But they will not be so forgiving of a lie that's meant to cover up a mistake.

That applies to you too, Lance Armstrong.

Monday, 15 October 2012

My Home, My Castle?

Update - Today (October 22) Toronto police have just announced the arrest of a suspect in the recent spate of sexual assaults in the neighborhood. Apparently the suspect is fifteen (15) years old. OMG.

I live in a "good" neighborhood in downtown Toronto. By "good," I mean that it's considered a desirable neighborhood to live in for those seeking a "downtown lifestyle." Housing prices start upwards from about $600,000 and a lot of urban professionals (young and not so young) choose to live and raise families here - if they can afford it.

Nonetheless - bad things also happen in "good" neighborhoods. Media are reporting that a sexual predator is making the rounds, attacking women in and around nearby Christie Pits park. Houses, garages and cars are being broken into with increasing frequency. Just the other day from my living room window, I personally witnessed an old woman walk into my backyard, into my garage, where she helped herself to the empty beer bottles that were in there. I have no problem donating my beer empties to those who are less fortunate, but it creeped me out to discover that my family's personal space could be violated so easily, and apparently so regularly.

The moral of the story? Bad things happen these days, even in "good" neighborhoods. And to my neighbors in Seaton Village, be mindful and take care of your possessions and of your loved ones.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

"Work-Life Balance"?

A lot of people talk about it, but how many actually can find it in their daily lives? I'm a full-time hands-on father of two beautiful kids (ages 8 and 9) and have struggled with attempting to maintain a career along with active child rearing. Right now my focus is on finding a new job, but my summer was filled with early evening baseball games and practices, mid-afternoon summer camp pick-ups, birthday parties and other things that seriously eat in to one's "leisure time."

When I think about it, I don't know a lot of parents who can maintain successful careers, successful marriages (or relationships) and be great parents and role models at the same time. Are you one of them? I'm interested in hearing your stories. And if you have any leads on communications, PR or media relations projects, feel free to send them my way!

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

On losing my wallet

I seem to have this nasty habit of losing stuff. Sometimes it's due to the fact that I don't always zipper pockets properly. In any case, my wallet fell out of my backpack yesterday. This has happened before, and I'm pleased to say that on every occasion, my wallet has been returned - intact - by a good samaritan.

Sure I had to cancel my credit cards, but I've been spared the hassle of obtaining a new driver's license, health card and other stuff. What a lucky break! There are still a few honest and decent people in Toronto, thankfully!

Kudos to "Joy" the woman who found and returned my wallet yesterday. I hope you enjoy your bottle of wine!

Monday, 24 September 2012

Vive le Québec indécis

I promise not to post too many political things here, but please indulge this rant on the threat (or lack thereof) of Quebec independence. The recent election of a Parti Quebecois government has many all riled up (again) about the possibility of Quebec leaving Canada.

Here is my 2 cents on the subject, for what it's worth.

Fifty percent (more or less) of Francophone Quebecers support the idea of an independent Quebec. Another 50 percent +/- oppose it.

Anglophone and ethnic ("Allophone") voters in Quebec overwhelmingly (about 95 percent) support Quebec remaining in Canada.

The tiny victories of the pro-federalist forces during provincial referendums were due primarily to the near-unanimous Anglo/ethnic voting pattern (yes, Jacques Parizeau was right about that.)

For the most part, people in the ROC (rest of Canada) simply don't care one way or the other.

In other words - "Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose."

Quebec, it's time to move on now.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Bike theft - Up close and definitely personal

As you can probably guess from the images on this blog, I am a cyclist. A "serious" cyclist, in fact. I ride my bicycle 12 months a year, including through Canadian winters (that's what makes me "serious" about cycling.)

Like almost all serious cyclists in Toronto, I have suffered from numerous bike thefts over the years. Most recently, it happened about two weeks ago in the heart of the downtown core. I locked my bike in the public bike racks of a major office tower to go to a business meeting. Imagine my surprise when upon my return, my $1,000 bike was missing and all that was left was my shattered lock (apparently snipped with bolt cutters) and my helmet lying on the ground.

Of course the crowds of people in the immediate vicinity noticed nothing suspicious about someone snipping a bicycle lock with bolt cutters...

Anyone who has ever suffered this (numerous times) is aware of the profound sense of violation and anger one feels when something as personal as a bicycle gets stolen from a public and visible place.

Well - now I have a brand new bike. And to the pathetic thief who stole my primary vehicle - enjoy your fix!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Media Relations 101 - But Definitely Not For Beginners

I'm in the PR and Media Relations business and I work mostly a combination of contract and fee-for-service (freelance) projects. This is not always an ideal arrangement, but given the rapid turnover and short shelf-life of PR practitioners, it has given me the opportunity to be part of many different industries and sectors. Through it all, I have learned a number of important lessons. Call it Media Relations 101, the list below describes some basic truisms about the PR and Media Relations world.

Lesson #1 - Journalists, media outlets and bloggers do not work for me.

  • You'd think this would be self-evident, but frequently it isn't. Sometimes my clients are unhappy that a news release or story pitch either didn't get covered or worse - was covered poorly, with factual errors and contradictory and/or negative messages. Like it or not, journalists are responsible to their editors or to their audiences, but they certainly aren't accountable to me. Sometimes and in a perfect world, journalists give my clients excellent and accurate coverage, but only when it suits their needs and they certainly are under no obligation to do so. They don't call it "earned media" for  nothing. Want a 100% guarantee that the media captures every word you wish them to say? It's called a paid advertisement and it can be expensive.

Lesson #2 - Playing in the media sandbox has its risks.

  • Did a media article make my client look stupid or harm their reputation? That's an occupational hazzard of playing the media game folks and if you want to know why, repeat Lesson #1. There are dangers and pitfalls in making yourself available to the media, but the potential benefits can be enormous. Can't stand the heat? Stay out of the kitchen.

Lesson #3 - While that "news"  may be of interest to you, others may find it boring.

  • Story pitches can be like children. Our own fascinate and entertain us, but other people may find them boring or even annoying. That new electronic widget or policy annoucement may be the most interesting thing in your world, but will it be of interest to an editor at ? Maybe not so much. Try looking at it from their perspective.

Lesson #4 - The news media are looking for compelling stories.

  • The good news here is that every organization - yours included - has a number of compelling and interesting stories. Sometimes the most interesting ones are not even what you may think they are. That new electonic widget that your company is flogging may be of limited interest, but maybe its inventor escaped to Canada on a ramshackle wooden life-raft from North Korea. A good PR/Media Relations person can help to identify your organization's stories and tell them in a novel and compelling manner.

Lesson #5 - Your organization's stories are not the only ones out there.

  • And I'm far from the only PR person pitching news releases to on any given day. There's plenty of competition for media space and your pitch needs to stand out from the rest in the cluttered media market. A good publicist will know when, where, and how to pitch your story for maximum impact and pick-up.

Lesson #6 - Be available and anticipate tight deadlines.

  • It's pointless to issue a news release if no one from your organization is available for a media interview. And when and if the media come calling, be sure you respond promptly because journalists have to meet deadlines. Enure you have a designated spokesperson and ensure that this person has been media trained. I can help with that.

Having said all this, a proactive and professional media relations campaign can be a fantastic and cost - effective way of enhancing your organization's or product's reputation, increasing exposure  and achieving your marketing objectives. But don't go into it blindly or with unrealistic expectations. Good luck!