Blog Archives

New PR Pros, Listen Up!

I don’t pretend to be an expert on getting jobs in PR – what I present below is a bit about how I got my job, where I am focusing over the next few years, and advice I received from my PR mentors. Hopefully this is a timely post with postsecondary graduation ceremonies coming up in the next few weeks!

What’s your field?

Remember that working in PR could mean working in media relations, internal communications, writing, government relations, investor relations, social media, or some or all of the above. Think carefully about what skills you’d like to work on, and what are most important to the career you have in mind.

Once you have a field in mind, find an organization you would like to work for who hires people in that field. Then, find out who runs the show over there. If you can, get some time to chat with them and find out what you would need to make it in their department. Congratulations – you now have a roadmap to your ideal job in your industry.

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Tim Hortons Gets Hammered in Steeltown For Pretending to Be From Toronto

TimHortonsIt’s hard to get more Canadian than Tim Hortons and Toronto-bashing. This story has both!

Canada’s number one double-double destination marked their 50th anniversary recently, giving all customers on May 17 a special free doughnut and throwing a 1960’s themed party in downtown Toronto complete with a replica of their original store. Pretty cool, right? A video of the party was then released on YouTube, where it currently has over 400,000 views (and counting).

There’s just one problem, and until some folks added the positive comments you see in the accompanying screen cap they appeared to be the vast majority.

Tim Hortons’ first store was actually located in Hamilton. And boy were there some angry (Hamilton…ians? Hamiltonites? We’ll go with Hamilton residents) Hamilton residents who reminded Timmies of their past, and shared their unhappiness about this little stunt. Guess for Tim Hortons, coffee isn’t thicker than water.

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Certified for Social Media

You meet a lot of people these days claiming to have knowledge in social media because they use it personally, but photos of your potential employee’s lunch or their outfit probably won’t gel with your clients and customers like it would with his or her friends. How do you make sure the social media person you could be hiring can tweet with the best of them? Should they be certified for social media? Here’s a few ways to gauge their knowledge level:

There are a lot of great programs offered at colleges and universities these days which include social media in the curriculum, and even some whole programs dedicated exclusively to social media. Consider checking the program out online, or speaking to the coordinator of the program to gauge how much social media knowledge they impart in the program. And it doesn’t have to be a social media program. Public Relations, Advertising, Journalism, and even Broadcasting programs typically include social media in the mix.


If you have the knowledge yourself, or you know someone who does (preferably in a professional setting or even your own office if possible), ask your potential hire to draft some posts and tweets and see how they do!

PD Events, Books and Webinars

There are lots of great networking and learning opportunities going on every day for social media users and enthusiasts – find out how much time your prospective employee spends on developing their skills!

Hootsuite University

Hootsuite University is not a terribly difficult certification to earn, and most of the features they cover are either self explanatory or only come in handy in rare circumstances. At best, it demonstrates a familiarity with Hootsuite and a desire to learn more about social media. Visit for more info.

Radian6/Marketing Cloud Training

I’ve always been a fan of the robust training offered by Salesforce, but I admit I haven’t fully checked out their Radian6 training options (details here). My suggestion would be to ask if they have familiarity with enterprise level social media tools, such as Radian6 or Hootsuite, especially if you are using them or intend on bringing them in. Even if you don’t, it is worth asking as it may drive your potential hire crazy to be driven back to the stone ages if they were to lose access to these tools!


The difficulty I find in recommending books on social media is that many are out of date by the time they hit print. I know that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but I guess to dive a bit deeper on that I would say the problem is that some social media books are too insistent on being about social media and not just about communications theory and practice in general. The only books which should be exclusively about social media should be case studies and how-to’s.

Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point presents interesting ideas on what is basically virality, before the phrase was coined, so I recommend that. This 2010 paper from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, titled “Social Transmission, Emotion, and the Virality of Online Content”, is another I recommend as a good starting point.


What do you think? Are there good social media books? What other resources do you use to learn about social media? Leave me a comment!

Using the Second Screen Effectively

David Hall called the second screen the trend to watch for 2012. Since then, there has been a lot of talk over how organizations can use ‘the second screen’ – your smart phone, your tablet, or your laptop – to enhance your enjoyment of an event, and I get the feeling there are still many organizations wondering how exactly they go about doing it. Recently, I participated in Huffington Post Canada’s #TrudeauWalkInTheme ‘poll’ of sorts ahead of the Liberal convention, as just one example of how second screen content can be created even if group organizing the event had their own stream going. Campaigns can be limited to an established Twitter hashtags, or they can be more robust with guidelines set in place ahead of time and participation of key event participants. Ultimately, it can be used to shine a spotlight on what you’re doing…but someone else could also use it to capture your audience by beating you on content.

Obviously having your audience hijacked by a rival feed is a missed opportunity for your organization, so you need the tips and tricks to maximize the effectiveness of your content. So, how can you use the second screen to enhance the experience of your audience?


Use a post scheduler to ensure a steady flow of content through the event. Make sure you include a ‘starter’ message to let people know about the ground rules, like which hashtag to use. Also schedule a thank you message. Try to remember to include content for people not able to attend as well, such as a link to a live video stream or to more info about the event. However, you don’t want to solely rely on scheduled content…


If it is all scheduled posts, you can’t adapt to things on the go and it may seem like you aren’t actually at the event! Make it a point to work photos and other live content from the show floor into your social media stream.

Disney has been a big adopter of the second screen.

Disney has been a big adopter of the second screen, offering interactive content, galleries, access notes from the filmmakers, and even more content for the kids such as puzzles!

Bake it in

Your second screen effort has to be a part of the event, not just a neat extra. Using Twitter walls, having your emcees contribute, and even just ensuring there is signage at your event and mentions in your reach out ahead of the event (invitations, reminders, etc.) is a must.

Respect the event

There is nothing worse than trying to speak before a crowd of heads looking into laps. Make sure you are reinforcing the importance of tuning in to the event and participating beyond just tweeting. Save your best content for the ‘commercial breaks’ and you may even want to encourage people to put away the phone for a bit – in a positive way – before key moments. I know some sports teams in particular are leery about tweeting too much during games so fans don’t miss the best moments and forget to cheer! And obviously movie and TV content has to be mindful of keeping the audience engaged so they don’t miss plot points, while also respecting their advertisers. So be mindful of what you are asking your audience to look at instead!

Offer something new

If I am at the event and I’m turning to social media, it is because I expect to get more content that way. That means it is your job to get the behind- the-scenes photos, to encourage the speakers to participate in the live tweeting, to give me facts I am not getting elsewhere, and otherwise prove to me that my decision to pop open my phone was a good one (no pressure!).

Be first, be foremost

To go back to my Huffington Post example from the beginning of the article, if you don’t create a second stream of content for your event someone else will. And even if you do, someone else might do it better. The important thing is to try, and use any advantages you have to promote your stream to your advantage. This could include the previously mentioned invites and signage, though a Twitter wall, etc.

What great examples of second screen content have you seen? And how will you use the second screen to your advantage at your next event?


Don’t Correct Your Social Media Manager…in Public

Your social media community manager is probably a very hardworking person. He or she may have to deal with many unique and challenging situations on a daily basis. Sometimes, in working through those challenges, they’ll make mistakes. That’s why you should make their job easier by correcting those mistakes in private.

It always bugs me to see others within an organization correcting a social media manager through either the comments section of a Facebook post, or a tweet, or any other form of public posting. Why?

  • Because it undermines the social media manager: Even if they’re incorrect, there’s no need for your entire social media audience to know that!
  • ¬†Because it can confuse your social media userbase: While getting the correction out there is obviously important, your social media manager will likely need to remove the post so you could end up confusing people instead – better to tell the poster¬†offline that they need to remove it and post a correction.
  • Because it makes your organization look uncoordinated: Even if that is the case, and I note here that the social media manager made a mistake for a reason, there’s no need for your entire social media audience to know that!

It may seem like a small thing, but it’s far more effective to tell your social media manager via email, Twitter DM, phone call, or in-person visit about the mistake and they will likely thank you for it!

Now, if you’re the one who has made a mistake, here’s what I would do:

  • Delete the old post
  • Put in a new post with the correct information and possibly also an apology if the post was up for a long time: Make sure to reword the post so it appears like a new post.
  • Follow up privately with anyone who ‘interacted’ with you on the post (retweet, comment, etc.)

Incidentally, sorry to anyone who received an early draft of this – I blame WordPress for Android. I wish you all a Happy (Canadian) Thanksgiving!


You’ve got Content – What do you do With it?

You’ve created a video showcasing your business. You’ve compiled an infographic to highlight last year’s accomplishments. You wrote up an article or other document outlining a new initiative. What do you do with it now?


Sometimes, it’s easy to rest on our laurels after creating content and think it will get out either because it’s on our website, or we’re posting it to social media. But in today’s internet landscape, people demand that information be pushed to them. To ensure you’re reaching the right people, sometimes you have to submit it to a lot of different places. Consider this a checklist for the next time you create a really stellar piece of content.

Get it online: If you’re producing great content with an external audience in mind and not posting it online, you’re missing out! While this seems like a ‘duh’ message, too often people are afraid of criticism and don’t want to take that next step to expose their content to the internet. Take a deep breath, and take the plunge anyways! Whether it’s a company site, a blog, or some other site – get it out there!

An RSS feed or email subscription: Seems again like a no-brainer, but consider what your existing online subscription options are. If people want your information, are you offering a way for it to be pushed right to them?

Your personal social media channels / your co-worker’s social media channels: While submitting it to the public via your organization’s profiles makes sense and should be your first stop, if you truly believe in what you’ve created then you should share it within your networks and add that little extra touch of a personal recommendation. Granted, you may not want to do this too often as your friends may become sick of seeing news about your company.

Stumbleupon:StumbleUpon is the easiest way to find cool new websites, videos, photos and images from across the Web”, or so their website says. It’s certainly a way to gain exposure if you make use of their tags system to match up your content with people interested in it. Install the toolbar, and start “Liking”!

Reddit:While Reddit can be very anti-marketing and ‘troll-y’, as David Hall would put it, if it’s a legitimately cool piece of content you could get plenty of interesting feedback and exposure. Even if Redditors hate it, you can guarantee a boost in your site traffic! Just be sure to search out the appropriate and relevant sub-reddit to submit the link to and consider watching the subreddit’s etiquette, ie. how their users interact with one another, before posting.

Influencers, and industry blogs and publications:Find some thought leaders in your industry and share your content with them. Don’t beg for a retweet or reblog, but impress them with the quality and leave any action up to them.

Respond to related content: Find other content about a similar topic and leave a comment about it. Work in a reference to your content. Your comment should not simply be a plug for your content – that is bad netiquette!

News makers / news sources: While what you’ve produced may not be newsworthy to you, let the media company be the judge of that. You never know what stories they might be working on already. As I mentioned in last week’s post about the news cycle, your time window can be short on this so act fast!

It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in – there is always another way to get your content out. I was advising some young, aspiring journalists this past week about ways to get exposure for their work to make a name for themselves. Whatever your goals, exposure is a key part in the growth of your organization and of your career.

What are some other ways to get your content out? Leave a comment below!



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