Steinlager Pure Deep Dive

Since I've been in New Zealand, I've been working with my colleagues at DDB on a really neat campaign for Steinlager Pure: a sponsorship program for William Trubridge as he attempts to break his own world record by free-diving to 102m. This is an incredible feat, as William attempts it without weights or oxygen, and has to hold his breath the entire time while also making it back to the surface. Check out and scroll down to check out different information about what William's body goes through as he does this dive. There are also audio messages of support from Kiwis and fans around the world, added to the website via neat mobile integration.

Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 9.40.41 am


The actual dive took place on December 3rd at 8am New Zealand time, and you can watch the recap video below (a video that was amazingly put together just a few hours after the dive):




Punk Rock and Bird Watching

What do Punk Rock and Bird Watching have in common? Paul Riss. That's because he has just finished a "big year" (birdwatching lingo for seeing as many bird species as you can in one year) and is making a documentary about it. He's also getting a tattoo of every bird species he spotted, and there's punk rock involved.  Paul is a creative and talented individual at DDB Canada (my employer), so I'm really interested in seeing how this will turn out. Here's what he says about the project:

"I'm most excited about the fact that younger people might take a second look at birding because they always thought it was just for retired people. If they get interested, it generally leads to a love of the environment on a grander scale. "

Follow Paul on Twitter (he's @ThePaulRiss), support Punk Rock Big Year on IndiGoGo or just check out his blog (it's got lots of interesting notes on his bird watching travel and info on ways you can support bird conservation.

The Garden Isle and The Valley Isle

A month ago, I wrote a blog post with some photos that I took while I was in Puerto Rico using a GoPro Camera. Over the Christmas break, Heather and I went to Maui and Kauai and used that same camera to make a video. Enjoy!

I edited it using iMovie, and the song playing is Cloud (Plastic Plates Remix) by Sia (I snagged it off of this blog post by Vacay Vitamins).


StumbleUpon and TELETOON Retro

The following post was written partially by me and partially by my colleagues at Radar DDB in Vancouver. It also appeared on the DDB Canada blog.

If you've seen the impressive stats in the StumbleUpon infographic that has been floating around recently, this DDB campaign to promote TELETOON Retro's line-up of Super-hero programming using StumbleUpon's Paid Discovery Service will be right up your alley.

The campaign uses Paid Stumbles to drive Cartoon, Comic Book, and Animation fans on StumbleUpon to a few pieces of content, including a promotional video that TELETOON created, and blog posts by various comic book bloggers who've written posts about their "Top 5 TELETOON Retro Villains." While driving traffic to third-party sites may be a tough sell for some clients, TELETOON recognized that these sites could give their campaign greater credibility, and were willing to experiment.

With the appropriate campaign, StumbleUpon can be an amazing way to drive relevant, targeted viewers to content directly through a medium they're already using.

T-Dot Comics - Top 5 Retro Cartoon Villains

TELETOON Retro Promotional Video

The One Thing is a result of the daily 10am meeting held in DDB Canada's Vancouver office, where our digital team meets to discuss new online trends, tools and technologies.

For an archive of the 10am links, visit our Delicious account at

Radar on Twitter:

Good Foot is a Good Idea

I've met a Jon Gauthier a few times and while I  knew he was an entrepreneurial fellow, I didn't know he was starting up his own courier company. The company, Good Foot Delivery, "provides a personalized point-to-point delivery service on foot or via public transit as well as employment opportunities to people with developmental disabilities."

I think this is a great idea, and while I don't want to downplay the hard work that Jon probably put in to get Good Foot off the ground I also think its a great example of how easy it can be to get a project like this off the ground with the help of social media. Its great to see that Jon was able to use his skills to do something he was really passionate about while also giving back to the community.

Read more about Jon's company, Good Foot, in the Toronto Star and then vote for them on the Pepsi Refresh Project website.

Keep up the good work, Jon!


CBC G20: Street Level Blog

I have been given an amazing opportunity to guest blog with the CBC's G20: Street Level blogging team. The blog launched yesterday and covers street level events and issues in and around the G20.
My main goal is to reach out to as many Torontonians as possible and listen to their experiences and insights surrounding this event. If you have a story to tell or want your voice heard let me know! Im hoping to hear from all sides and perspectives. Are you happy to host the G20? Has the G20 disrupted your day to day life? If so, how? What do you want to say or share?

Microsoft's Take On Video

Online video undoubtedly plays a significant role in emerging media. Video is nothing new, but its use on a growing variety of devices (smartphones, tablet PCs, laptops etc.) has sky rocketed in the last few years. YouTube alone reaches upwards of 2 billion views per day, doubled from one year ago. Video is obviously here to stay, but it isn't a static format. With our ever-growing needs, it is constantly evolving to be clearer, simplified and easier for developers to work with.
I was recently given the opportunity to interview Peter Farfaras, Emerging Video Specialist for Microsoft. He spoke at SES Toronto last week and had the following to say about emerging media and Microsoft's role in the development of online video.
Q: Can you provide some insight on Silverlight vs HTML5? Adobe has had a lot of push back lately (Apple war) and HTML5 is being touted as the next major platform for video. What are your thoughts on how Silverlight compares here?
A (this first answer came from Senior Video Product Manager Matthew McKenzie):
Microsoft ships the world's most popular HTML client. Despite the HTML5 specification being a work in progress, we implemented several HTML5 features in our most recent browser. Microsoft has co-chaired the HTML5 working group in W3C since its inception, and we remain active participants. Our browser will continue to be the dominant HTML standards implementation for the foreseeable future.
Likewise, we continue to invest heavily in Silverlight development and deployment. There is no one-size-fits-all, perfect tool for every development job. HTML5 will be fantastic for some scenarios, while Silverlight will be great for others.
Q: Coverage being distributed via Silverlight? Are more developers using it now?
A: Yes, more and more developers are using Silverlight, and we have a DPE team dedicated to Silverlight evangelism. As for results from our collaboration with CTV for the Olympic video coverage, below are some impressive statistics worth noting provided by our DPE teams:

Q: Do you think large-scale production videos are going to be replaced by more web-ready compact video?
A: No, I don’t see large-scale production videos being entirely replaced by web-ready compact video. I do however see the changes or improvements being made to optimize the production of Video.
Definitions of video content types are always changing but the core question is around production and type.
There will be times when video production will either be less, the same or more complex to create than TV; but as I stated earlier, this will be dependent of the type/genre of content or event. We have millions (even billions) of examples of compact/low cost production—"handycam" or mobile video content—being created and uploaded to the web all of the time.
It really comes down to what environment the video viewer is in. Think of "a day in the life" scenario: do they want to watch premium long-form video content that has high production quality in the evening, short-form premium video on demand while they are at work or travelling, or low-res —UGC or viral video content—for a laugh. Context matters. We will still have large-scale production video, we’ll just have them optimized and create and distribute them more efficiently; that’s where the evolving world of video technology comes in. (Attached is a condensed version of our Context Matters by eMarketer.)
Q: Where do you see the video industry five years out?
A: Based on global statistics, Canada continues to maintain one of the highest levels of video usage as a percentage of population: currently 88%+ (according to comScore Video Metrix, April 2010).
I expect to see continued growth, especially if online video adoption, viewing, usage continues at its current trajectory.
It’s really exciting to think about how dynamic this environment will be. It’s always evolving and there are several forces at play, a few being:

  • Increased PVR/DVR adoption
  • More and more content shifting online (globally)
  • Viewers continuing to want a choice of how they can access either long-form or short-form content
  • What viewers can do with that content (stream, download, share, etc.)
  • Networks wanting to capitalize on a growing/shifting audience—to meet the ‘convenience factor’
  • Technology companies wanting to provide the vehicles for viewing this content (software, hardware)
  • ISPs/cable operators needing to scale accordingly to this demand and perhaps even change their revenue structures

The perception may be that video is still in its early days when you compare it to TV, but we have this perfect environment where users will continue to demand access to video content online, especially as more and more short-form and long-form TV moves online. Just take a look at the Vancouver Olympic stats referred to above, those are some unprecedented numbers. Video isn’t going away.
Q: What are some ways that Microsoft is planning to use video and stay ahead of the curve?
A: Video will continue to be a key pillar for Microsoft: delivering premium video content to our users via the most reliable and cutting edge technology. Our new MSN Video destination site improves on previous versions. The end-user experience is paramount, and the new player takes the UX to the next level.
Features like:

  • Dim the lights—cinematic experience—where users can dim the background of the site and content making the video player standout
  • HD content: Full-screen in HD content
  • 14 different sharing features and options
  • Unique URLs for each video
  • This is key for Video Search as the metadata is improved/more robust

What are your thoughts on the emerging role of video? What would you like to see companies like Microsoft introduce into the market?

The Guardian: Taking the Guards Down

Chris Thorpe, Developer Advocate for The Guardian presented one of my favourite sessions at Mesh this year. He spoke about The Guardian's open platform program which opens their API, data, and content to developers. This is a stark contrast to the many newspapers in North America that have started charging for content, placing it behind pay walls and forms. Chris believes this will ultimately decrease their influence, reach and engagement, leading to lower traffic and ad revenue. He explained that the longer people spend browsing on your site, the more pages they view and the more likely they are to click through on ads, increasing revenues overall. If you block off your content, you can kiss those extra eyeballs and advert dollars buh-bye.
Before you get the wrong idea, Chris and The Guardian aren't giving away the farm for free. They are implementing developer agreements (revenue sharing, syndication, etc.) on data and API codes to build businesses with developers. The four stages of newspaper production are creation, production, monetization, and distribution. Chris says to put a "co-" in front of each stage. Involve the public and the audience in the process.
Why is this a good thing?
First, it gets people engaged in the journalistic process, using the engagement of the audience and the readers to bring out more information and news. He cited the example of G20 "protester" Ian Tomlinson who was killed by police. The police told one story, but the pictures and video sent in by other protesters told quite another. Time has come for the public to take back some of its power in bringing truth and justice to the forefront. By empowering the world's citizens and bringing them into the process, trust in mass media as a source, and newspapers as a medium, can be restored.
Second, it allows developers to use The Guardian's data to develop new websites, microsites, and apps weaving The Guardian into their fabric. This will put The Guardian in front of new audiences and increase traffic to the newspaper's website. It will also increase ad revenue and provide information needed for more targeted ads both on the partner sites and The Guardian's own website.
Third, most developers are creative and entrepreneurial. By working with, instead of against, developers The Guardian will reap the benefits of new and innovative business models.

Chris sees The Guardian as an online business, not a print business, and he believes that in order to survive, news entities must restructure their business models to work with the online shift, not against it. He believes that by opening up their content and data, The Guardian can one day be the world's leading liberal source. With already more than 40% of their traffic coming from outside the UK, this certainly seems to be within their grasp.
What do you think?

Hired Guns Get The Job Done

A few days ago, Jevon MacDonald wrote a post on StartupNorth advising startups to avoid using Public Relations agencies or Marketers to contact him on their behalf. While he was speaking about his site specifically, his statement suggests that hiring a PR firm means a startup's priorities are "out of wack". I disagree. I don't think that every startup needs a PR firm, but there are certainly many that do. Getting some early coverage can be key to getting investors, and PR firms can help with reaching the right audiences and helping the startup founder tell an interesting story about the company.

While some founders are probably great at writing and communicating, there are equally as many that aren't. A PR agency can help draft emails, arrange interviews, and develop collateral. These are all things that PR pros excel at, and that would take away from time that a startup founder could probably spend working on the key element of their company.

Tim Lee wrote about a similar topic in a post titled PR Firm as The Anti-Signal, and I followed that one up, too.

What do you think? Should startups be hiring PR companies, or are they a waste of time?


BlogCampaigning: Movin' On Up

Congrats to a few members of the BlogCampaigning crew: The official notice of Heather Morrison's new position at Sequentia Environics went out (over the newswire, no less) last week, saying that she'll "supervise the daily operations and performances of client service teams." A good move indeed; Sequentia is  a digital communications firm that "focuses on the online relationships between companies and their customers." It's also part of the Environics Group.

In other celebratory news, Jens "Schredd" Schroeder sent me an email last week to say that he handed in his doctoral thesis last Monday. "I can't really believe it's over... " he wrote. "But I suppose you never reach the point where you're convinced that it's the right moment to hand in a project of this size." The paper is titled 'Killer Games' versus 'We Will Fund Violence' :The Perception of Digital Games and Mass Media in Germany and Australia, and Jens is hoping to make it available here on BlogCampaigning sometime soon.


Everything I Need To Know About Social Media I Learned From The Globe and Mail (THE VIDEO!)

A few months ago, I gave a presentation as part of the Canadian Institute's Managing Social Media Conference titled "Everything I Need To Know About Social Media I Learned From The Globe and Mail." A few weeks ago, the good folks from the Canadian Institute were kind enough to give me that presentation in video format so that I could share it with my readers.

I pretty much walked straight from the presentation to a job interview at MAVERICK PR, where I now work.

For more on this presentation (including my explanatory notes and the slides), please see this post or visit

Anyways, it looks like the Canadian Institute has another Managing Social Media conference coming up in Calgary in March. I'm sure it will be good, so if you're in town you should check it out.


PS: You should totally follow BlogCampaigning on Twitter. It is twice as easy as RSS, and all the cool kids are doing it.

Tricky Flacks, Slippery Slopes and Lazy Hacks

A few days ago, I wrote a post about the case of a journalist that had posted a copy of my friend's news release as if it was his own article. This got me thinking:

The smart newspaper editor (or whatever the title of the guy who is in charge of the copy on a newspaper's website) might see this and start to look at his website traffic more closely. If he was really smart, and had the right information, he'd begin to find out whether it was the articles written by journalists or the news releases written by PR pros and simply posted by journalists that got the most traffic.

The smart editor would also have to pay attention to the types of traffic he was attracting. 1000 visitors that don't click on ads or otherwise generate revenue are worth less than the one visitor that buy's a print subscription to the newspaper, clicks on an ad or otherwise helps them keep the lights on and server running.

The smart PR pro might then realize that they could tilt the balance of things in their favor by writing news releases that can be easily re-purposed by journalists, and that will also result in revenue-generating traffic. It is probably easier said than done, but that doesn't mean it is impossible.

And is it a slippery slope, as Todd Defren writes? Definitely.


Watch Out iTunes and Amazon, Here Come HMV and Wal-Mart?

HMV Digital I recently read an article in the Globe and Mail discussing the hot battle for online book sales. For the last decade, Amazon has enjoyed a cushy spot on top of their competition—wait, did they even have any real competition? If I had a penny for every time I proclaimed my love for Amazon, I'd probably have enough to order at least one more book.  Over the last few years, Amazon has moved beyond paperbacks into other retail markets, including a broad offering of consumer goods. (I ordered a hair straightener from their site just last month.) Their offering is a no-brainer: a trusted site + quick delivery + great deals on goods =  happy consumers. Other online and retail giants, namely Wal-Mart and Google, have been eyeing Amazon's success for some time. In the Globe article, Forrester analyst, Sarah Rotman Epps, notes:

“Amazon and Wal-Mart have been competing for that consumer for a long time. The reason why this is important now is that whoever has a strong relationship with the book-buying consumer today is well-positioned to keep that customer tomorrow."

The battleground is heating up. Amazon and Wal-Mart are now in a fully fledged price war, selling many popular books and e-books for under 10 dollars. While they may not be turning an actual profit on book sales, they are able to promote other items and sections of their site leading to increased sales overall.

In similar news, HMV, a store that up until a few years ago I visited weekly, has finally decided to enter this century and offer their content online—gasp! Since most people have already become accustomed to using iTunes or just downloading everything for free, is this move too little too late? The new site (HMV Digital) offers all MP3s free of digital rights management (DRM) and includes a "My Downloads" section which stores recently downloaded songs and allows users to access them remotely. The site also aims to make customer service a top priority with a visible help section, a comments section on their blog, and by providing contact details of the editor. Time will tell, but I feel that even with these features HMV will have to make some serious marketing and advertising efforts to gain back their market share.

No matter who comes out on top, a little healthy competition is good for the soul, and great for the consumer. Let the games begin!

Accepting Swine Flu (The Good Ol' Days?)

I remember that when I was in high school and university, people still smoked in bars. When going to a restaurant, the hostess would ask you two questions: how many people in your party, and whether you wanted to sit in the smoking or non-smoking section. When I speak to student groups these days, I tell them that when I was in university, I didn't have a mobile phone. They're shocked by this, and don't really understand how I got in touch with my friends. (And c'mon, I'm not even that old: I graduated in 2004, which was right on the cusp of when university students started using mobile phones.)

Ten years after 9/11, and the security theatre at airports is part of our culture and threat levels of various colours are part of our vocabulary.

In all three of these cases, we almost look back at the recent past and laugh about how we used to live our lives. "I can't believe people used to smoke in restaurants!", "How did I ever meet up with friends without a cellphone in university?", or "Remember when you only needed a driver's license to cross the Canada-US border?" are all pretty common comments about "the good old days".

Is our current state of pandemic panic going to persist as well? Will I be telling future generations that they used to send out memos to people reminding them to use hand sanitizer?


PS: If anyone has suggestions for a brand of swine-flu preventing face masks that look good with a suit, let me know.

Coffee Time

For the past few weeks, my employer CNW Group has been hosting a series of informal "Coffee Break" webinars aimed at educating people about our various products. (CNW is WAY more than just a newswire.)


Laurie Smith, CNW's VP of Culture and Communications hosted all of theses sessions, and I joined her to talk about Social Media Releases and CNW's MediaRoom product. I kinda like to think that if we'd done more of these we could have had a chance of becoming the Regis and Kelly of the newswire circuit.

Most of them are now archived on the CNW Group website, and you can access them in the Events section.

Stop Reading PR Blogs

Earlier this year, I suggested that PR students wanting to get involved in the online world should avoid starting a PR-focused blog. Now, I'm going to suggest that we all stop even reading PR blogs. They aren't that representative of the real world—the wilds of the internet.

Rather than focusing on how this tightly knit community (I believe David Jones referred to it as a "circle-jerk" on Inside PR) does things and communicates, why not spend that time getting more involved in understanding the way actual people use the internet?

Learn how your clients' audiences look for things online. Learn about what they're interested in. Become passionate about what they are passionate about, or at least try and understand their passion.

I'm willing to bet that most of you don't spend your evenings re-reading your old PR textbooks (nor do you buy the latest version every year), but that you probably do browse your region's daily newspapers on a regular basis.

Do you have any idea how few people care about RSS feeds? How many of your friends (outside of those involved in the communications industry) actually care about Twitter or even understand what it does?

Forget case studies. Forget best practices. When is the last time you did something truly new and interesting?


Have A Coffee And Learn About Social Media Releases

header-eng Starting next week, CNW Group will be hosting a series of coffee-break webinars every Wednesday at 3pm EST.

The topic of the first one will be Social Media Releases, and I'll be stepping up to the mic (handset? speakerphone?) to tell you everything I know.

There will be plenty of time for questions, but are there any you think I should specifically address?

I promise that I'll try and make it both informative and entertaining, so grab a coffee and log in from your desk. It'll be like hanging out with me for a few minutes, but you can count it as doing work.

CNW Group Coffee-Break Webinar Series


Did Mainstream Media Win The Online Journalism War Against Bloggers?

Like Christie Blatchford before him, David Olive is one newspaper reporter that really doesn't understand blogs and the internet. In his recent article on ("Bloggers hitch wagons to the traditional media") he argues that... you know what? I'm not really sure what his argument is. He seems to be critical of bloggers and seems to be trying to defend traditional media.

The problem is that he doesn't do a good job of either.

After dismissing bloggers as nothing more than "Internet diarists," he applauds Newsweek, The Atlantic, Maclean's, The Nation and even his own Toronto Star for either hiring bloggers or turning their journalists into bloggers.

Just one paragraph later, he says that the reason these bloggers are turning to newspapers is because "there is little 'stumble upon' factor in blogs—strangers who come across a website by accident and become fans. You won't stumble across the website of prolific blogger Mark Steyn at the dentist's office as you will Chatelaine."

I find fault with this statement for a couple of reasons. The first is that if the major problem for bloggers is the lack of "stumble upon" traffic, why would writing for a newspaper website get them greater visibility than writing for their own website? Similarly, if blogs result in such little traffic, why is David Olive so happy to let us know about the prestigious print publications that now have their journalists spending time writing blogs on the publications' websites?

I'd also argue that blogs DO get a lot of stumble upon traffic—both from the fact that they link to other blogs (something David Olive doesn't seem capable of doing) and because of a little something called StumbleUpon. Most of the blogs I read today I read because I've come across them via a link from another blog. Either that, or I've found them via StumbleUpon—a tool that plugs into your web browser and lets you stumble around the internet.

I also question the validity of his statement that "the lifespan of the average blog is two to three months." I don't know where he got this information, and I'm not doubting it. I've got plenty of friends that have thought it was a good idea to set up a blog and given up after only a post or two. However, that's because the barriers to entry are so much lower for starting a blog than for starting a newspaper. If you honestly want to compare failure rates, how many people have given up trying to start a nationwide print publication after coming up with an initial idea and perhaps drafting one or two articles?

David Olive might declare that the war is over and that the mainstream media have won it, but I disagree.

I don't think there was a war in the first place. I think there was an evolution, and that the media everywhere is changing. Bloggers are thinking more like journalists, while traditional journalists and editors are thinking more like bloggers. If anything, the borders between the two are blurring.

For a guy writing an online article with a comments section (despite the lack of links), he's doing a pretty good job of not understanding what a blog is or how it works.


SEO and The User Experience

I'm not a Search Engine Optimization expert. I enjoy thinking about it,  and I have a pretty good idea about SEO best practices but I'm not a pro.

The real SEO pros who live and breathe the stuff all day, every day.

I'm talking about guys like Rand Fishkin at SEOMoz because he writes amazing posts like a recent one about How To Build A Perfectly Optimized Landing Page.

In that post, he walks through his thoughts on how a page should be built in order for it to have the best chance of ranking well in search results. I won't repeat it all here, but he provides well-researched data for some of the reasons he gives, and explains it all in easy-to-understand terms.

Near the end of the post, he asks the question "Why don't we always obey the rules (when it comes to optimizing landing pages)?"

The gist of his answer is that the reasons SEO pros don't always ignore these landing-page optimization rules is because they are focused on other strategies, such as link buidling, to achieve search engine dominance.

Although he lists both Content and User Experience as other priorities one should have when building a landing page, I don't think he ranks them highly enough. To me, it seems like having good content and ensuring that is easy for your users to navigate should take precedence over any other work.

Its fine to rank well in search engines, but that's not going to do anything for you if users aren't interested in what they find on your page, or if they have trouble doing anything with it.

As always, plan and create for users first, search engines second.


CNW Goes Big On Twitter

CNW Group has always been committed to getting our clients' news in front of journalists and the media. For years, the only way to really do this was via the news wire. When fax machines became an accepted way to send and receive news and information, CNW Group embraced that technology to reach members of the media. Similarly, when email became a popular form of communication, CNW offered interested parties the ability to subscribe to our clients' news via portfolio email. The same, too with our categorized RSS feeds. The point is that as technology has changed, CNW Group has changed with it in order to make it as easy as possible for both members of the media and the general public to get news and information from our clients.

That's why I'm excited to announce that we've officially launched hundreds of unique Twitter accountsto distribute our clients' news over Twitter. The accounts are based on our existing news categories, and all releases posted on our website and over the wire will also go out on anywhere from one to four of these accounts (depending on how the release is categorized).

By breaking the news into these seperate categories, we're making it easy for interested parties, be they members of the media or the general public, to find and follow the type of news they are interested in. Similarly, by offering news via the traditional wire, by fax, by email, by RSS and now by Twitter we are making it as easy as possible for people to get news from us.

Read the official news release from CNW Group about this, or check out the full list of accounts at


(note: Although I am an employee of CNW Group this post, like all my posts on BlogCampaigning, reflects only my own personal views and opinions and not those of my employer)