Deep Think and Creating Space

I just read this insightful post from Richard Huntington, on ‘Deep Thinking‘ and couldn’t help but read with a tremendous sense of relief. That I’m not the only one who struggles with this is refreshing, but also paralyzingly frustrating.  The compression of so many roles into both managing the day to day grass fires that plague many organizations while at the same time, also having to foresight every possible outcome as a means of predicting the future with forensic accuracy is no small task.

Managing all of this for any of us is a complex task; a daunting one to say the least. This is why I like what Huntington has to say here. His recommendation to ‘create’ the space you need to think, is powerfully undervalued.  My strategy is to as often as possible, embrace the Pareto principle’s core at least, through my own lens.    Pareto’s construct, the ‘law of the vital few’, or ‘the principle of factor sparsity’, observed that “80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes” which has inspired many a business author to report that 80% of the results come from 20% of the effort, or in sales, that 80% of your sales will come from 20% of your clients.

I have my own take on Pareto’s now infamous 80/20 rule is now evenly spread across a multitude of applications and disciplines. For me, in trying to manage (or cope some days), I try to the best of my ability to render my work week by the 80/20 rule. In its simplest form, I resolve to keep one day a week, typically a Friday (like today) for my own version of ‘deep thinking’ where I can reflect on the week ahead, think about the week behind, map out what is coming in the next 30-60-90 days and help ensure I’m focusing on the right things. I have found this to be infinitely helpful to me, and with Huntington’s piece, I can take it even further.

Always happy to hear your thoughts on the subject. How do you create the space you need? Do you do carry around a file folder that’s an inch or two thick of things you are forever needing to read? Do you always promise you’ll get to it on airplanes or on the train home? What are your tricks – let me know below.

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Key Messaging

Don’t under-estimate the power of solid key messaging as a tool to influence stakeholder opinion and creating a new narrative.  Governments tend to be very disciplined on this, and it serves them well.  President Trump’s team refers to the development of ‘alternative’ facts in crafting his government’s story.

It is not uncommon and often quite desirable to offer one’s own version of a situation within the the context of your organization’s or personal situation. Most recently we witnessed Jody Wilson-Raybould detailing her accounts of the history between her and the Prime Minister by ‘speaking her truth’, and the impact it had on the electorate.

It is important in defining a public narriative to get your version and account into the media ecosystem and social media as a means of influencing and offering alternate perspectives.


While sometimes it can be seen as manipulation or be discredted as ‘fake news’ often it is just the varriablity of narriative crafted through a different lens. That can be the most difficult to navigate, but often can be fundemental in helping to win public opinon.

I have to tip the hat to journalist Stephen Taylor for this rather embarassing truth caught on film. In the clip below, Federal Minister of the Envrionment, Catherine McKenna describes how easy it is to construct your own reality by defining your narriative and sticking to it.

Some real advice, I said that if you actually say it louder, we’ve learned in the house of commons that if you repeat it, if you say it louder, if that is your talking point, people will totally believe it.

Catherine McKenna explains her career as the minister of carbon taxation.

— Stephen Taylor (@stephen_taylor) May 26, 2019


I’m just not sure what this says about McKenna’s push on her own government’s Climate Change agenda for example. How much does it undermine the value of your messaging when you pull back the curtains on your process, as McKenna has done.

The hyper connective world today provides countless opporurnities for anyone to craft and concoct any reality they so chose as a means of pressing forward with their own agenda. Whether it is a business group advocating for change or the envrionmental lobby rallying against a specific issue, there is always a substantial amount of grey between opinion and fact, which makes it increadibly diffiult and frustrating for the public to decipher.


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This is how to stay fulfilled at your job, even as the years go by – Fast Company

Even jobs have a honeymoon phase. Here’s how to keep the excitement alive.

This is how to stay fulfilled at your job, even as the years go by
[Photo: DavidZydd; mapodile/Getty Images]

A lot of us love our jobsat first. But as time goes on, it’s natural to be less and less happy.

“Performing the same tasks repeatedly can become boring and too routine, or an increased workload can affect job satisfaction, causing too much stress and burnout,” explains career coach Hallie Crawford. But that doesn’t mean we still shouldn’t seek happiness at the office.

“Happiness is essential to your overall sense of fulfillment and well-being in life,” Crawford says. As she explains, “Because our careers are such a big part of our lives–and we spend a lot of hours at work–it’s important that we enjoy what we do,” and how we’re doing it, too.

Here are six ways to stay happy at work, both at the start, and as the years (and years) go by.


You may have to do the same things, but try not to do them the same ways. “Try to work on different tasks or use different strengths in your job instead of always doing the same thing in the same order,” Crawford says. “Using different strengths are important to fulfillment.”


According to millennial career coach Jill Jacinto, “Sometimes it helps to pay it forward to remind yourself why you fell in love with your career when you did. Helping someone with her career will energize you and give you a chance to learn from a younger generation too.”


Before boredom–and dissatisfaction–can set in, it’s time to learn something new, says Crawford. “Take an online course or learn about new software that would be beneficial to your line of work,” she says. “Stay up to date. Staying in the know helps keeps you sharp.”


“Sometimes meeting with fresh faces can inspire you,” says Jacinto. So, attend a conference, reach out to your LinkedIn network, or send an email to a former coworker. “Sharing your career story and hearing [another] perspective can help spur creativity and partnerships.”


It might be easy to wait for annual performance reviews to talk to your boss. But don’t, says Crawford. “Let them know your professional goals, and ask to take on new projects and for feedback about your overall performance,” she says. “They will keep you in mind, and plus, this provides the opportunity to work on tasks that contribute to your overall happiness.”


Self-care is very important and something that is too often dismissed,” says Jacinto. And so to stay happy at work, “make sure that work isn’t getting in the way or preoccupying your thoughts–take that beach vacation, attend weekly Pilates classes, get a massage, or go on a hike. By regularly making self-care a part of your routine, you are allowing yourself to check out, but also to feel refreshed and inspired for when you get back to the office.”

This article originally appeared on Fast Company

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Why Using Social Media is a Thing of the Past


Shama Hyder, CEO of Zen Media

Using social media to promote and advertise for brands used to be a forward-thinking strategy. Social was the future, and early adopters were rewarded for jumping on the bandwagon when they did.

In the good ole’ days of early social media marketing, it made sense to “use” digital advertising in order to reach “wired” consumers. It also made sense to “use” social media to reach consumers who were discovering social media platforms. Back then, before widespread adoption of the internet and the advent of billions of Facebook users — that is, back in the days of interruptive advertising where campaign lifecycles and consumers’ journeys could be clearly identified, neatly segmented, and accurately assessed — it made sense, and was frankly quite easy, to “use” social media to reach consumers.

But to thrive in the age of the connected consumer, marketers need to understand why “using” social media is a thing of the past. Today, it’s important to shift from a mindset of “using” social media to a mindset of adapting and thriving in an ecosystem where a highly connected, social, empowered consumer is now the norm, and traditional econometrics and data are no longer adequate to measure and track the success of content and campaigns.

Social media is a shrinking piece of a much bigger digital pie that requires rethinking consumer’s sociality, and relationship to brands. 

Consider that 77 percent of marketers rely on at least one dedicated social media platform, but less than half generate ROI from this strategy. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Millennials and Gen Z are annoyed over brands targeting their social media feeds and in response, a third of them have permanently deleted their Facebook account.

What’s more, social platforms are changing the way they operate, making it harder for brands to show up to the audience they want without paying to do so. Twitter deleted more than 70 million suspicious accounts in less than 60 days, and Instagram switched to a non-chronological algorithm that has limited the appearance of organic branded content in users’ feeds. With this in mind, marketers need to redefine their understanding of “social” to extend beyond social media.

To clarify, it’s not that consumers are becoming less “social,” it’s just that this sociality — which can be understood as digitally-enabled “connectivity” to other consumers and to brands — appears to be increasingly migrating from social media platforms onto aggregation, social, mobilization, and learning platforms. (Think, for example, of how “social” consumers are on sites like eBay or Amazon in terms of sharing product reviews and interacting directly with sellers and other consumers.) Said differently, though the number of consumers who can be reached through social media channels may be shrinking, the digitally-enabled “sociality” that characterizes today’s connected consumer is expanding.

ROI is an insufficient metric for assessing success that requires rethinking the nature of the consumer journey.

The expansion of today’s connected consumer across multiple digital touchpoints means that ROI is no longer a reliable default for accurately assessing campaign success. Marketers need to move beyond ROI and adopt metrics that are more sensitive to the complexity, ambiguity, and dynamism of the consumer journey correspondent to the category in question. Without this sort of approach, it’s impossible for brands to identify their particular challenges and to develop targeted strategies for overcoming them.

Integrating social data and metrics with other KPI’s affords brands much greater visibility into the customer journey across multiple channels and digital touchpoints. In order to integrate social media strategies with other critical marketing practices — web analytics, CRM, and so forth — marketers must cease to view social media platforms as simply a marketing channel and leverage it instead as one prong of a larger strategy and source of customer insight.

Metrics for measuring a campaign’s success require rethinking what “value” means in the digital age.

Determining if, how, why, and under what conditions a particular marketing strategy or campaign has value to a consumer requires rethinking what value means in the digital age. It also requires equally nuanced and sophisticated metrics for measuring this value. Depending on the variables, value can mean many different things — things that are invisible from the limited perspective of ROI. By adopting more nuanced and sophisticated metrics for discerning the subtle shades of value that nonetheless represent significant points of leverage, marketers can tune their content accordingly.

While the concept of “using” social media no longer makes sense, the expanding sociality of today’s connected consumer offers new opportunities for defining, measuring, generating, and reaping value in ways that will continue to advance the digital age and benefit brands and consumers alike.

Shama Hyder is a visionary strategist for the digital age. A web and TV personality, a bestselling author, and the award-winning CEO of Zen Media, she has aptly been dubbed the “Zen Master of Marketing” by Entrepreneur Magazine and the “Millennial Master of the Universe” by …

Original Article – Forbes

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Government Launches Ontario News Now.

Now that the dust has settled on the ‘outrage’ over the Ford government’s launch of Ontario News Now (ONN), it’s time for some objective analysis.  


As a new government digital communication tool, ONN irritated activists who claimed this was a partisan vehicle for promoting the government’s own objectives.

Let us start with the facts. Premier Ford did not invent the internet, nor did his late brother. Those who follow the subject will appreciate that it was non-other than Al Gore.  More to the point, why has the development of ONN generated such widespread scrutiny?

From the ONN’s first moments, Premier Ford and his political team came under fire for developing a vehicle designed solely to share the governments perspective. It is a corporate communications tool that uses social channels (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) to promote the interests of the government and subsequently the Ontario PC Party.  Is it news? Of course not. So why are so many people upset?

Pundits and antagonists were enraged that the Ford government were so keen to communicate their agenda.  The CBC suggested that “the Progressive Conservative government’s production of a TV-news-style video (Ontario News Now) is eroding democracy”.  Frankly, anyone who thinks what Premier Ford is doing is either new or unique is just uninformed or ignorant to the facts.

Partisan Messaging is Exactly What Governments Do.
While the specific vehicle (Ontario News Now) may be new, the objectives are really no different than what any other government has done or continues to do. Let’s not let our short political memories forget that other governments in Ontario have done similar things with exactly the same intent.

Columnist Christie Blatchford reminded us that during the 2007 Ontario election we saw former CityTV and CBC news personality (turned senior Liberal insider), Ben Chin host a series of YouTube ‘news features’. Embracing a full newsroom format, Chin’s visibility as a newscaster had an impressive impact. The content unfailingly promoted the Liberal agenda while attacking the Conservatives.

There is ample evidence of this type of creative content strategy throughout our history to level the playing field on this. All this to say that no one’s hands are clean in this regard, but the question remains is it wrong? This is the new political reality and one that sees political parties using the channels that mean the most to their constituents. Isn’t that what we really want from politicians, engagement?

Digging even deeper, former Toronto Star reporter Richard Brennan also highlighted on Twitter that Bob Rae’s NDP produced a broadsheet newspaper (below) that mimicked the Toronto Star’s look and feel and presented the content as actual ‘news’. Why did Bob Rae’s government create their own vehicle? According to Brennan, “…because they complained the media was unfair to them and needed their own voice”.

 Bob Rae's NDP Government produced their own broadsheet newspaper "... because they complained the media was unfair to them and needed their own voice”. 

Governments Must Demonstrate Communications Discipline
Now, more than ever, the election cycle begins with the new governments very first day in office. Higher rates of public awareness, social media and the media have turned an election cycle from being a few months to a never-ending process. The simple answer is that governments have to must demonstrate unfailingly and unwavering discipline when it comes to public communication.

The reason for this level of management shouldn’t be foisted upon the shoulders of any one individual, however some clear examples come to mind as exemplars of the requirements for strong regulation. Former Harris era cabinet minister Dave Tsubouchi gives us a great example of why political communications are often controlled tightly from the centre (especially with new governments). In the early days of the Harris government, Tsubouchi’s demonstrated a particular lack of skill when working with the media. He quickly gained a reputation for public gaffs that were embarrassing to the government.

Then, as a newly minted minister of community and social services, he was tasked with substantial cost reductions. Perhaps most notably his off-handed comments that those impacted by social service benefit reductions ought to perhaps shop more carefully, for example by purchasing marked-down cans of dented tuna. And thus, ‘Tuna-fish Tsubouchi’remains in the frontal lobe of every political leader’s mind when considering public communications. Success in government really is about consistently and continuously controlling the narrative.

Tax Dollars at Work
Although this digs into the weeds a bit on political operations I will pile on a bit. To some, the premise of using taxpayer dollars for partisan messaging is outrageous and an unfathomable blight on our heritage. Let’s be clear. The development of the internet and social media have created are a wealth of opportunities for politicians to promote their (or their parties) own views and it is not limited to those in power.

Sure, the premise of the government promoting their political agenda doesn’t sit well with the uneducated, but there is a stark reality that the antagonists are missing. Every single time an elected official takes to Twitter, they are in fact using public dollars (they are compensated from the public purse) to promote their own political agenda. This is not limited to the premier or cabinet ministers, it’s true of every parliamentarian irrespective of political stripe. Each time a communication is sent out, it is partisan. Each interview given to the media, every press release, every piece of direct mail you get, every public event… you get the point. It’s all partisan. And the majority of it is taxpayer funded. That is how democracy works, at its most operational core.

There is also concern that Ford is scuttling ‘access’ and democracy by filling up press conferences with staffers is also demonstrative of a lack of understanding of how politics works. This is an exceptionally common tactic, in particular for new governments. Some journalists have complained about a lack of access, and again, this is a communications strategy to ensure politicians remain on message and to minimize early term PR disasters.

Ultimately, the new Ford government have shown significant discipline in public communication, something we have come to expect at all levels of government. The current president of the United States isn’t the subject of ongoing and constant scrutiny because of his public policy agenda, it is because of his never-ending stream of communication failures (and a series of moral, ethical and legal entanglements). The tightly controlled messaging of any new government doesn’t diminish democracy if anything it should encourage more effective governing.

What can we really learn from this?
The reality is that the Ford government has done little more than develop and deploy a content strategy. This is a strategy I deployed while working in Hamilton for the local school board in 2006. While at the earliest days of social media, the city only had two traditional print outlets, a talk radio channel and a TV station that had just transitioned into a ‘superstation’ (mostly movies). When I arrived the coverage of the Board was both minimal and unfriendly. I needed to reframe the Board’s activities by re-focusing our public messaging and revitalizing the website and all collateral material to create consistency and alignment. And, it worked.

When brands (including politicians) can’t get the attention they want or need, they often have to create it. Given the overall contraction of the news media across North America, there isn’t the same depth or breadth of coverage. Many organizations have turned to ‘content strategies’ to generate the interest and coverage they want, blending with executive visibility and other marketing techniques to deliver what can no longer be achieved with traditional PR.

Three solid takeaways:

· Control your message

· If you can’t get your own coverage, create your own

· There is no such thing as ‘too much’ communication with your stakeholders

There are many who have argued what Ford is doing is contrary to our democracy, but from a PR and Communications standpoint, adding in some political context, it’s actually smart quite smart.

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How vast is the social media universe?

There can be no denying the value of a strong social strategy, but have you ever wondered exactly how vast the social universe is? Visual Capitalist has created an outstanding graphic to help wrap your brain around the extent of the digital ecosystem.  When thinking about your social strategy, let us help you craft a surgical approach that helps you align your messaging with the right audiences.

social media universe
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The Value of PR

More and more we’re seeing a lot of public debate about the value of PR (public relations). There has been substantial scrutiny about its value as a transformative business tool. I think we all know just how transformative bad PR can be. We’ve seen some major crisis hit companies hard, with the #metoo and #timesup movements, as well as a litany of poorly performing politicians, business and community leaders etc. So why do companies question the value of PR as a critical element of business?  Why do leading minds think that automation and mass proliferation is the answer?

Perhaps a sign of the times, firms are trending towards a re-imagining of public communications deeper into the digital realm; in particular social media. So, could AI replace the PR professional? What AI can’t deliver the kind of trust it takes to realize exceptional engagement and value. Many senior executives however, see the (dare I say) the ‘avant-garde’ nature of digital communications, in particular when combined with the instantaneous nature of reporting metrics as particularly sexy. Business leaders salivate over tantalizingly easy analytics can be quickly spun into definable ROI.  Simple. Clear. Efficient. But effective?

Alternatively, traditional PR purists have turned to their own digital platforms, including blasting out press releases to the unwashed masses. It’s cheap(ish), and also demonstrates the immediacy of metrics. This format can return significant volume of impressions and outlet pick up, but often not real engagement. PR firms often wave these figures around as a statement of effectiveness, traction and return on investment. However, this too has met with limited meaningful impact. Organizations often want big bang for limited investment. To some, this provides that and more. In reality though, it’s very minimal sizzle, and definitely no steak.

Some argue this openly – such as this recent article in which, Kevin Akeroyd, CEO of Cision suggests “The overall volume of press releases both in the U.S. and globally, as well as price per press release, is at an all-time high.”  This means there is a lot of noise out there and while there are some metrics that show a mirage of pick up, firms are likely not getting the meaningful engagement they are hoping (and paying) for. Just this morning, I got an email that outlined how “press release performance continues to be a pain point and gaining meaningful ROI is a key goal.”

Operationally, we’ve seen how shrinking PR budgets, compromised resourcing and staff reductions combined with dramatically increased skepticism around things like ‘fake news’ have resulted in operational changes against marketing and PR budgets. Complicating things is the decade-long destabilization within the news business itself. More than ever before reporters are covering multiple sectors (beats) which means they are often chasing deadlines for stories across multiple industries and more often than not have limited meaningful understanding of a unique business. As such, the opportunity to generate real meaningful engagement with reporters continues to diminish.

So what is a firm to do? Demanding more for less is always an option. This is the very premise of the quote “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” There are no silver bullets in generating outstanding public communication and engagement. It requires investment in the right people/team, resourcing them and generating great content. There are no simple solutions. Create a budget, a plan and execute ferociously.  There are really no shortcuts to generating meaningful engagement.

An effective strategy doesn’t favour one or the other, it embraces both the digital and traditional. The best asset you can deliver is a strong strategy that has defined executional elements and that can return strong ROI however, that ROI must be considered across multiple veins.  A strong relationship with a reporter takes time to cultivate. A good strategy needs time to mature.   While the promise of social media’s instant returns may get you likes and shares, will it get you shareholder confidence or sales?

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The Ontario Election is over: Now the work begins

The past six months have provided Ontarians with an entertaining, terrifying and action-packed election campaign. Many who follow politics regard the time in advance of an election as the ‘silly season’ and with no exception, the political parties and candidates in this 2018 campaign have certainly lived up to the hype.

The pre-writ period saw tremendous support and energy from the Ontario PC’s. The November 2017 launch of ‘the People’s Guarantee’ that, while light on detail provided a brilliant strategy that positioned the PC’s in the middle of the political spectrum. The package included a host of progressive nuggets of public policy, enough to court frustrated Liberal voters and ensure the PC base in Ontario. Consuming this middle ground also forced the governing Liberal’s to scrape away further at the left, which continued to reinforce the PC’s positioning them as ‘tax and spend’ and poor managers of the public purse. Perhaps more significantly, the strategy helped the very likable PC Leader Patrick Brown create distance between comparisons to conservative leaders like Trump, Harper and Harris.

As we watched 2017 come to a close, there was a strong sense that voters in Ontario wanted a new government. The Liberals went into full damage control focused their legislative agenda on delivering incentives to court voters. The spring budget included a host of financial and public policy leavers they felt necessary to win the election. The cornerstone of the agenda hinged on revised labour legislation that included a historic 32% increase in minimum wage and more than 60 changes to labour and employment law. The Liberals strategy sought to use public spending to drive a wedge into the political narrative, as a means of overcoming diminishing popularity.

The Liberals had previously committed to balancing the books for the 2018 election however Finance Minister Sousa’s ‘Fiscal Recovery Plan’ proved to be a sharp U-turn with massive increases in spending and projected deficits well out to 2025. Ontario’s debt to GDP ratio was projected to balloon to 38.6%, and firmly cementing Ontario’s status as the most indebted sub-national jurisdiction in the world. While the Liberals were ready to hand out ‘free daycare’, ‘free prescriptions’ and more, all polling indicated that the voters clearly just wanted to be ‘free’ of the Liberals.

Not to be outdone, the Ontario PC’s have a history of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Just weeks into the year, Brown faced a scandal that resulted in the leader resigning in January 25th, just five months from the election. Four candidates quickly emerged in the leadership contest, including the first to enter the race, eventual winner Doug Ford. The leadership contest was held March 10, and despite some concerns over the voting process, the party remained focused and united on defeating the Wynne Liberals.

The uncertainty of a new PC leadership and redevelopment of a winning campaign for Team Ford, provided an opportunity for the Andrea Horwath led NDP to gain significant ground. Ford’s own lack of popularity both within the party and amongst the electorate at large created a significant window of opportunity for the NDP who remained predominately an afterthought until the 11thhour of the election. The NDP saw a considerable surge in support in mid-May as Horwath performed better than many anticipated in televised debates and found some momentum. In fact, 70+% of declared Liberal supporters indicated that that would consider throwing their support to the NDP as the next best alternative.

The second debate provided a unique moment for the Premier and her team launched a ‘Sorry, Not Sorry’ campaign that sought to distance personality from electoral record, but this had little influence over voters. Support for the Wynne Liberals eroded so quickly during the campaign’s final days, that the Premier publicly announced on Saturday June 2nd, that a Liberal loss was inevitable.  In January, the Liberals were polling as high as 32% in a solid second position behind the PC’s and well ahead of the NDP. The incumbency of government is a natural advantage, however the Liberals declining fortunes met with a ‘change’ minded electorate as popularity dipped to less than 20%. The late-stage projections for the Liberals even had many within the campaign worried about retaining party status in the legislature.

The results of the June 7 election to many, were unpredictable and provided for a wide array of predictions. Would the NPD win a majority? Would there be a minority government? Would there be a coalition? Could the PC’s and Team Ford possibly pull out a majority?  The PC’s early leads eroded into a statistical tie with the NDP within days of the election provided significant trepidation for volunteers and organizers in all camps.  The only thing that was absolutely clear, was that after 15 years of Liberal governments, Ontario votes were voting for change.

In the end, the Ontario PC party pulled out a clear majority delivering 76 seats with the NDP doubling their presence at Queens Park with 40. The decimated Liberals suffered their worst defeat in the history of Ontario politics, and will now officially lose party status managing only 7 seats.  Wynne immediately resigned as leader, setting the stage for a complete party rebuild. And, for the first time ever, the Green Party will have a seat in the Ontario legislature thanks to a convincing win in Guelph by leader Mike Schreiner.

The circus atmosphere of the 2018 election campaign provided no shortage of mystery, wonder and its fair share of WTF moments.  The election results will be poured over by strategists and political sciences for years ahead. The challenge however for most organizations is to move beyond figuring out what happened and into the realm of how to deal with it. The new Ford government’s agenda will respond to the votes call for change.

For many organizations this will mean retooling government relations and communication strategies. This will require re-engaging the array of new, untested and unproven MPP’s and political staff on all sides of the legislature. Ford is likely to move quickly to announce his cabinet, likely before the end of the month, and it is likely to be a smaller cabinet. Their agenda will be focused on creating quick wins by increasing economic opportunities and reigning in spending.

Premier-elect Ford and his transition team will be quick to will open the books and look for efficiencies. The question remains for you and your organization is how to influence the new dynamic at Queens Park. How does your organization maintain a presence and focus with a narrow economic agenda? What will Ford and his government’s relationship with Ottawa look like and how can your organization benefit from that?  Give us a call, we can help.

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Media Relations

I’ve spent most of my professional experience listening to business leaders provide me with arguments as to why they don’t need or want media training.

  1.  “I’m not the company spokesperson”
  2. “It isn’t my job to speak with the media”
  3. “I’m too busy”
  4. “We don’t have the resources for media training”

One excuse after another as to why you would never, ever need to be a spokesperson. Unfortunately, you never know when or what circumstance may thrust you into the spotlight. Just ask these business leaders, no one really needs to be prepared.

Media interviews can often go sideways very quickly – and while most people think the media is out to get them, but in reality, interviews most often go wrong, because spokespeople go in unprepared.

Executives often look to their communications team to be spokespeople, the truth is that it is far easier to train someone to speak to the media than to educate a PR team on your specific discipline and the sensitivities that go along with that. In particular, in the midst of a crisis. Get prepared, you never know when the media is going to be on your doorstep.

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Playing it Safe…


Over the years, I have had the opportunity to meet some intriguing and inspiring individuals.  Some from politics, some from business, some from community facing organizations but all with a common perspective on taking on strategic risk. Whether politics, business or community leadership, a strong and well-calculated risk can be the difference maker between progress, growth and awareness versus doing what everyone else is doing, or worse yet, not keeping up.

At a marketing summit a few years ago I was introduced to Jonathan Mildenhall, previously VP of global advertising strategy for the Coca-Cola company. His brilliance in marketing strategy left quite an impression on me. His position on leveraging risk was profound and energizing. In his mind, organizations regardless of size, output or stakeholder group, should align resources around the 70-20-10 rule for dividing your marketing budget. While Mildenhall didn’t conceive of the 70-20-10 ratio, it most assuredly is a space he owed through his own promotion of the Coca-Cola marketing presentations (here).

To Mildenhall, 70% of your marketing should be the low-risk stuff. This is where you park your bread and butter marketing. This is the ‘the way we’ve always done it; steady as she goes’ type stuff that you know works but, no doubt yields with diminishing returns year over year. That next tranche of 20% should push the boundaries of innovating on the 70%. This is where you are comfortably uncomfortable, but still be within earshot of your traditional planning and execution. This will bring higher engagement and interest in products and brands while adding a new channel or something beyond what you may have considered previously becomes an important part of bridging the old and the new. Then, there is that final 10%.

In conversation, Mildenhall lights up when he talks about that remaining 10%. This is where your creative energy diverts from the path of complacency and can re-energize a brand with a single campaign. These are the ‘what if’ campaigns that while having higher risk profile, can deliver exponentially higher returns if leveraged properly. Organizations in this day and age who refuse to take on some risk, especially those who are barely keeping up in the marketing game are not only highly complacent, they are actually losing ground.

From our perspective at HOWE&WYE we see countless organizations who have given up ground to their competition, detractors or the media simply by not keeping up with the times. Strong creative, digital and interactive campaigns are the norm these days while remaining absent is actually abnormal. Gone are the days that you could launch a cool new website and watch your traffic numbers grow. Now, consumers, clients and stakeholders not only want more, they demand more.

We would enjoy talking to you more about how to build out your convention marketing program into something unexpected.

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