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!