"Our Food. Your Questions." = My Summer

If you're a regular reader of BlogCampaigning, you might have noticed that we often slow down our posts during the summer months. Normally it's because I'm outside enjoying the great weather, but this year it was because I was working on an amazing project for McDonald's Canada called "Our Food. Your Questions." You might have seen this video that was part of the campaign:

Or you might have just seen the site,

Or you might have just seen some of the great answers that my team of writers wrote in response to the thousands and thousands of questions that Canadians asked about food at McDonald's Canada:

No matter how you saw it, I hope it gave you new appreciation for the food that McDonald's Canada serves. I also hope that all of the hard work by an incredibly talented Tribal DDB team was able to shine through.




Social Media Work (DDB is hiring) #Toronto #Jobs #Hiring

The company I work for, Tribal DDB, is hiring for a number of  social media positions in the next few months. Although they are for 8-week contracts, they will be a great experience and there are both junior and senior positions available. Plus, you'll be working with me. For more information, see the careers section on the DDB Canada website.


Fashion Friday: Hoi Bo and Mjolk

If you you live in Toronto and you're into awesome design collaborations, head over to Mjolk in the Junction tonight (October 21st) for the launch of a new bag by Hoi Bo. You might recognize that name because I've blogged about the company on BlogCampaigning before. Or because you read about them in the Globe and Mail recently. My roommate Annie works for the company, and to see what they are about you should really watch this video on the Toronto Standard about them.



Say hi to Hoi Bo on Twitter or check out their website for more at

More Fashion Friday on BlogCampaigning


Evolving the Presentation

The other day I saw Nick Parrish of Contagious Magazine speak here in Toronto. While I thoroughly enjoyed his talk, one thing struck me: Here we are celebrating whole new ways of communicating, marketing and advertising, yet the way we talk about them hasn't changed. When is the last time you went to a presentation that was something more than a guy (or gal...or even a Guy Gal) behind a podium (or holding a microphone) and standing next to or beside a screen displaying their slides? Sometimes there is video. Sometimes, cool demos.

The last big change to the way we presented was with Twitter. Rather than having to wait until a more formal question and answer period, or leaning to the person next to you to whisper your opinion, you could take to the internet and communicate with the rest of the people in the room about what was being said on stage. For many conferences, this Twitter backchannel was as important was what was going on at the front of the room.

However, it still feels like an add-on, and has changed the audience's way of experiencing a presentation rather than the way the information is being presented.

Prezi shows promise as an alternative to Powerpoint and Keynote, but it is still just another way of putting information up on slides (it's the unique transitions between slides that makes it stand out). Plus, I've heard Prezi gives people motion sickness.

Live streaming and the TED-like practice of putting everything online has given more people access to presentations, but it certainly hasn't changed the presentation format.

So what's the next big step for presenting? We know our content is interesting, but how can we utilize some of the new media technologies we talk about to deliver it in a more interesting way? How can we engage the audience while still sticking to script and not getting distracted? If the content is the problem, how can we make it better?

I definitely don't have the answers, but I'm going to look for them.


Fashion Friday: Is It Too Early For White Shoes?

Last summer, I went to a Bachelor Party in Las Vegas and I knew that the must-have accessory for the trip was a pair of white leather loafers and matching white belt.

After returning to Toronto, this combo earned a regular spot in my wardrobe. At least until about mid-September. Then it got colder, a bit rainier, and my shoes and belt seemed out of season.

Now that the weather is getting warmer again, I'm wondering when I can break this great look out. Can you wear white shoes on the first sunny day, or do you have to wait until after the long weekend in May?

And while we're on the topic: socks or no socks with white shoes?

Fashion Friday: Christmas Cheer

The following Fashion Friday post was written by Yuri Park, an Account Executive at MAVERICK PR. Although the shades in my closet are better suited for the mafia, I’m certainly not shy around my holiday reds and sequins. Then it got me thinking: ‘tis the season for sequins, sparkles, Cosby sweaters, and in a train wreck scenario, all of the above. Now, I’m no fashionista, but I thought I’d put together a few of my personal tips on pulling these loved looks off this holiday season.

The Cosby Sweater Say what you will, but these bad boys are cozy and warm as hell. You could even use the excuse that vintage is back. That being said, it’ll probably make a better hit at a family dinner than a work function. Mostly because your family’s obligated to love you no matter what. I kid. Best paired with: a white men’s Oxford shirt and dark jeans or casual slacks for guys and a pair of tights, knee-high boots and a chunky knit scarf for girls

Sequins and Sparkles They’re fun, they’re glitzy and they’ll absolutely make you stand out. But please, for the sake of preventing an aneurysm, try to stick to one or the other and leave it as a statement piece. If you’re wearing a sequined dress, it’s really not necessary to wear sparkle tights, rhinestone jewellery and an animal print overcoat. If you’re a stickler for matching, match the colours, not the texture. Best paired with: Anything neutral. Sequins, sparkles and prints can be worn as a cardigan, dress or statement accessory but to make it stand out (after all, that’s why you’re wearing it), tone down the rest of your outfit with neutral shades like black, grey, beige and white, and keep other exciting textures to a minimum.

Risky Business We’ve all been to that corporate function where the one girl decides to wear a skin-tight, open-back, deep-V slinky dress and everyone is staring for one reason or another. If you can pull it off, I’m not shy to acknowledge my jealousy for your hot bod. If you’re out with friends and really tight colleagues, go for it. If you’re out with family, that’s just weird.

But please remember that at a corporate function where your CEO/supervisor may be present, most people are nervous that you might pull a Janet Jackson after your next glass of wine. More importantly, it may affect your credibility at the next Monday meeting. I know, it’s a party, but it’s not a college gongshow. You can still keep it PG sexy without looking like a lot lizard. I’m not the biggest Le Chateau fan but something along these lines would work

What advice do you have for holiday fashion?

Yuri Park is YPark28 on Twitter.

Fashion Friday: Traditional German Drinking Hats

On Thursday afternoon I joined my Toronto Tribal DDB/Radar DDB colleagues at a local pub to wind down the work week. After ordering a pint of Labatt Blue, the owner of the bar brought over some samples of a German wheat beer, and told us that if we ordered a pint we'd be entered into a draw to win an authentic German drinking hat as well as a sausage on a bun.

I liked the sample, and was planning on ordering a pint of the beer anyways when the waitress told us that the owner was mistaken: I wasn't entered into contest to win the sausage and hat. They were included with the beer!

As Ed Lee pointed out, this is one particular case where these types of free promotions were worthwhile for the brewery: I Tweeted about it (mentioning Jens and Malte in my Tweet, two German friends who are probably likely to at least try drinking this beer if they hadn't already), and Ed posted a picture of the deal on his influential and widely-read gastronomy/business blog "Marketing Chef."

So how was it?

The sausage was well cooked, with a great sauteed onion and mustard topping.

The beer, Weinhenstephan, was amazing.I'm a fan of these "Weiss" beers and this one was particularly good. I'd definitely order it again, even without the promise of a hat and sausage to accompany it.

And the hat? Pretty awesome.

It might not become part of my everyday wardrobe, but I like to think I pull it off pretty well.

What do you think? When is the right occasion for wearing a traditional German drinking hat? And what do you think about theses types of give-away promotions? Are they worth it?


PS: Thanks for reading another edition of Fashion Friday on BlogCampaigning!

Advice For Anyone Who Wants to Start A Blog

A few days ago, a friend of mine mentioned that she had begun PR school and asked for advice about what to do for the blog she was obligated to do for one of her classes. If you're one of those die-hard BlogCampaigning fans, you probably already know my thoughts on adding another PR blog to the over-saturated sea of PR blogs.

Back then, my advice to my young friend would have been that she should start a blog about something she cares about.

Now, my advice would be that they avoid starting a blog altogether.

Instead, she should start a Facebook Page.

Right at the start, she can populate this Facebook Page with information about herself (or her project) and what the page is about.

Since I'm pretty sure students in these PR classes are encouraged to read each others' blogs, she can then ask her follow students to 'Like' the page (a much easier task than subscribing via RSS).

Instead of daily blog posts, she can write daily status updates for the page. Facebook's newish tagging ability makes it easier to link to other pages, and isn't really that different than the traditional HTML links you'd include in a blog post. These tags have the added ability of ensuring your post is visible on the page that you tagged, potentially increasing your audience. Interactions on these pages (Likes, Comments) will be spread across the social network of her and her friends, encouraging further interaction and becoming much more visible than if these same interactions were made on a blog.

If she does all this, she'll have the framework for a 'blog' that has the potential to be more popular than any of her classmates. She'll also learn a lot about an increasingly relevant tool in the communicators' kit.

She'll still have to ensure her posts are interesting, resonate with her audience and encourage interaction. A supporting website with basic contact information and direction to 'Like' the Facebook page couldn't hurt, either.

What do you think? Is this good advice for a PR/communications student? If you're a teacher, would you give a passing grade to a student who did this instead of starting a traditional blog?


Summer Slowdown

It happens to me every summer. The sun comes out, and all of a sudden I'd rather be playing soccer, riding my bike or sitting on a patio instead of working on BlogCampaigning.

Don't worry, though. I'll be back soon enough with some stuff here. Expect updates about my new job, thoughts about the advertising industry, why I think Toronto is Canada's #1 Second Class City and lots more. I'm also big on the idea of those infograpahic-type things that you see everywhere these days, so maybe I'll even try and put one together.

Until then, follow BlogCampaigning on Twitter to stay in the loop. Or just get outside and spend some time enjoying the good weather.


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?

Mesh 2010: Hits and Misses

The Mesh 2010 Conference was in full swing last week. Overall, the organizers did a great job of gathering some of the finest digital marketing and social media minds under one roof to share, collaborate and learn from one another. That said, there is always room for improvement. Below are my Mesh Hits and Misses for 2010:
Miss #1: Swag bags x 2

I arrived at Mesh bright and early on Tuesday morning. After picking up my name tag and agenda, I was handed a big bag of swag. Two bags actually, one laptop bag (similar to the one I received last year) and a second smaller lunch bag. Both were filled with a bunch of swag that I'll probably never use, and definitely don't need. Not to mention I had also brought my own bag, so I was now left with 3 bags to cart around and no coat check or drop space to leave them in. I am definitely down with receiving free goodies from sponsors, but why not introduce the concept of digital swag (this being a digital media conference and all). It would have been so much cooler to receive a login and user code where I could peruse and select free digital gifties online. I wouldn't have had to cart any extra gear around with me all day, and I would probably have actually made use of and paid attention to the sponsors' freebies.
Hit #1: Keynotes

Great Keynote presenters and topics on Day 1! Day 1 was all about privacy and security. The first keynote was Chris Thorpe from The Guardian, who spoke about their decision to open up their content and data to developers. Great session (expect a detailed blog post in days to come). The second keynote was Joseph Menn, who spoke about his new book Fatal Systems Error, and went on to tell gangster stories of  digital crime lords—very cool!
Miss # 2: No visibility

You couldn't actually see any of the presentation if you sat toward the back of the main auditorium rooms. Mesh set up large screens behind the speakers and then just projected the Mesh logo. Great as it is, it would have been so much better to project the speakers onto those screens. It's so much more engaging when you can both see and hear the panels.

Hit #2: Food and drink

There wasn't a break that went by that didn't offer snacks, meals, drinks, and tasty treats. Everything from ice cream sandwiches to giant pretzels were supplied along with your choice of juice, coffee, and even Red Bull. Mesh organizers did a great job to make sure us meshies never went hungry or thirsty.

Miss #3: Sessions and Tracks

Mesh would benefit and keep people coming back for years six, seven, and eight if they divided tracks and sessions geared toward beginners and more experienced digital marketers. I totally understand the need to have 101 and base-level sessions, but unless Mesh sessions continue to expand and geek out as we do, numbers will start to drop off. One thing I heard from a five-year mesh goer was that the first year it changed her life, her entire career path, and way of thinking, but five years on the level of education she was receiving was really tapering off. DON'T LET IT TAPER OFF! Offer some more in-depth, geeked-out sessions next year!
Mesh Hit #3: Mesh Live

Mesh Live encouraged people to share their Mesh experiences, photos, and videos online, direct to the Mesh website. This feature was a great idea. Hopefully going forward there will be more photos and videos of actual Mesh presentations; sometimes it was hard to choose between sessions, and it would be amazing to have access to the sessions we missed (hint hint).
Did you go to Mesh this year? What did you think? Any suggestions of how to improve the experience for next year?

Wanted: Toronto Bloggers

Some of you may have noticed Ive been quieter than usual on BlogCampaigning. This is because I was neck deep in a site redesign and overhaul of my blog, Toronto Uncovered. Check it out if you haven't already, and let me know what you think. I'm still working out a few kinks, but suggestions and feedback are always welcome! Toronto Uncovered!

One of the main features of the new design is to add visibility and prominence to different categories on the main page and in the menu bar. I'm hoping to grow out different sections and increase the amount and variety of content that readers have to choose from. I can't do this alone—I need help! I'm looking for Torontonians who have something to say and need somewhere to say it. Come forward and help me uncover Toronto's good, bad, and ugly. If you have a unique idea for a section that you want to take charge of, or just have a lot to say on one current category, let me know!

This is open to anyone who lives in Toronto, newcomer or born 'n raised; all opinions and perspectives are welcome. You can contact me at or via Twitter at @hmorrison.

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?


Start Your Thirsty Thursday Years On April 15

Just like Carlsberg describes itself as "probably the best beer in the world," I'm pretty sure that Thirsty Thursday is probably the best PR meet-up in Toronto. Maybe I'm just saying that because I recently turned 28, and I think I've entered my Carlsberg years. Or maybe I'm just in the middle of my Thirsty Thursday years, and that means you probably are too. If you come out to Pauper's Pub (372 Bloor Street West) on April 15, we can debate the whole thing.

From the official invite:

Spring is here and so is the latest edition of Thirsty Thursday! Hot on the heels of our Talk Is Thirsty event last month, we're back at our usual venue of Pauper's Pub. Join us for a few extra-casual beers as we talk about billable hours, best practices for media relations and how glad we are that we didn't go to med school.

We'll also be raising a few pints to welcome Rick Weiss into the fold as a co-organizer of Thirsty Thursday (mostly because he's the one that reminds us we should do another of these events and because Cathy and Scott don't help out anymore).

Feel free to show up with friends, or by yourself. Chris Clarke will be at Pauper's "holding down the fort" around 5:30 pm, while the rest of us will show up around 6:00.

RSVP to the event on Facebook so we know how many people to expect and join the Thirsty Thursday Group on Facebook so you won't be left out of our May event (its going to be awesome).


PS: We need a logo for Thirsty Thursday - anyone want to give it a shot?

The TTC Needs a Marketing Makeover

If you live in or near Toronto you've undoubtedly heard about the Toronto Transit Commission's (TTC) recent blunders: sleeping employees, rude drivers stopping traffic and commuters for a coffee break, leadership problems, and raise hikes. The public is angry, and rightly so. It's hard to find anyone who speaks highly of the service they receive in any capacity from the TTC. As public sentiment reaches an all time low, the TTC marcomm team and the newly formed Customer Service Advisory Panel have a serious uphill hike ahead of them. While the climb may be an arduous one, it is not impossible, and the rewards at the top are well worth the ongoing efforts. Think of how much the commission would stand to earn if the public actually believed in, and wanted to use, its services. Below are some ideas that the TTC (and the panel) should consider as they strap on their climbing gear:

1. Take advantage of the public's desire to communicate their frustrations. Tap into the channels they are using, listen to what they are saying, and actually respond, taking their ideas, comments and frustrations into account. Showing a little bit of genuine empathy can go a long way.

2. Be more transparent. Give an honest and ongoing account of where the TTC fees are going. Be honest about hikes, wages, and time lines for improvements. I don't mind paying a little bit more or being slightly inconvenienced if I understand the reason behind it. Include a section on the website that shows what is going on—think graphics and visuals. I don't want to read heavy text. Seeing is believing.

3. Use mobile communication applications and programs to highlight and reward the best drivers and penalize the worst. With the popularity of smartphones and location-based apps, it is easy for riders to weigh in on their drivers and experiences in real time. I have had some amazing drivers who absolutely deserve to be rewarded, and others who really shouldn't be allowed to deal with people at all. Why not set up a public system to track this?

4. Nominate someone to be the official "Face of the TTC". This figure should be someone the public trusts as a liaison between public needs and the inner workings of the commission. The customer service advisory panel is a great start, but there is a need for something longer term.

5. Make your marketing programs cost-effective. Use social media platforms and online sites to distribute communications and facilitate marketing programs. I want to know that my money is going in large part to improving the service, not the image.

These are just a few ideas; other cities like New York have set up multiple social media platforms and actually respond to questions and interact with their audience—check out New York City Transit's Twitter feed and Facebook page, which actually has discussion and feedback. They have also opened up their data so that community members can design apps. They host contests for best apps each year and feature different ones on their website regularly. In contrast, I can't even find the TTC social sites on their website (@TTCnotices and @bradTTC - Director of Communications).

What do you think? How would you change the TTC if you were given the ability to do so?

We're Getting The Band (website) Back Together

A few weeks ago, my friend asked me if I could help him build a website for his band, A Northern Drawl. They've already got a MySpace page and a Twitter account, but they wanted another presence on the web that they had more control over.

Rather than just setting them up with a blog and saying "have fun", I wanted to make sure it would be something useful. My friend and I went out for coffee, and talked about what they'd be using it for and what they wanted.

Some of the initial things that we agreed the site needed were a way to advertise their upcoming shows and a way for people to contact them for bookings.

My roommate Micker ("a sustainable designer") gave me some ideas on how it should look, and I used Artisteer to put it together (well worth the $50 if you ever design Wordpress or Joomla sites).

I also convinced them that it would be great for them to post any tracks they record and make them available as a free download. As a band that is still building up a fan base, giving away MP3s for free is a great way for people to easily learn about the band without having to put down any money. Its also a great way for existing fans to share the music with their friends, potentially growing their fan base.

A newsletter plugin (via Satollo) was also added, and I've encouraged the band to tell people to sign up for this newsletter. Rather than just sending all their posts like Feedburner might, a news letter plugin like this instead allows them to capture the names and email addresses of their fans so that they can send them more personalized, relevant updates later on.

While all you social media types that read BlogCampaigning might be hip to the RSS scene, I don't think the average music fan is, and I think a newsletter like this will be a good way to reach their potential fans. Later on, I'd like to expand this newsletter function so that it captures which city the subscriber is in, as well as their name and email address. That way, the band can reach out to fans in different regions when they go on tour.

They asked me if I could set the site up so that any updates they made on the blog would be posted to their Twitter account and MySpace page, but I advised against this. It isn't because I didn't feel like doing it (setting up a feed to Twitter is easy, one to MySpace a pain in the ass), but because I think they'll have different audiences on each of the different sites. As a new band, they've got a huge opportunity to start connecting with fans, and automated messages across different social networks isn't the way to do this.

I also added a plugin that would enable users to vote on the comments. In my discussions with the band, one idea we came up with was that before a show they could ask their fans which song they should cover. Fans would be able to make suggestions via the comments, and then vote on the suggestions that they wanted to hear. Its a great way for the band to get feedback about what kind of music their fans want to hear. I think it is also a great way to draw people to shows, as people might be more interested in going if they think that the band is going to play one of their favourite songs.

Once the band makes merchandise, I'd like to add some sort of system so that people can order it from their site. I'm sure that as the band's needs change, so will the site, and I look forward to working on it with them for the next little while.

If you've got a few minutes, check out, and let me know what you think of the design. I'm particularly interested in hearing what you think of how the background image shows up on your monitor. I certainly wouldn't describe myself as a "web designer", but I do like making and designing sites like this.

They haven't started posting anything yet, but if you like Pearl Jam-inspired alternative music, it might be worth your while to subscribe their RSS feed or follow A Northern Drawl on Twitter to get updates from the guys. They frequently play shows in Toronto, and are worth checking out.

What sort of things do you expect your favourite artists to have on their websites?


Gorley's Other Gig

Adam Gorley is BlogCampaigning's copy editor, and the one responsible for scheduling our posts.

Sometime he doesn't get a chance to edit one of my posts until a few hours after I send it to him.

That's because he also has another (read: real) job that keeps him busy. Part of this other job involves writing articles for the First Reference blog, a site about "Business, Payroll, Employment Law, Internal Controls & You!"

For an example of one of his recent posts on the First Reference Blog, check out Workplace human rights: Overt racism in the workplace – it's still here.

A few weeks ago, he also wrote a post about what to do about the problem of employee theft in the workplace that I thought was hilarious, but only because I read it a few hours after finding out that April 15 is Steal From Work Day. (I probably won't be adding that to my calendar.)

Thanks for your work, Adam.


Outrage Over Hockey Fighting Outrage

While BlogCampaigning posts about a pretty diverse range of topics, we don't normally stray into the realm of local news and politics. I'm going to make an exception in this case, and that's because Robert Cribb's recent article about "locker room boxing" in the weekend edition of the Toronto Star made me sick.

The article talked about the recent controversy surrounding a video of two 14-year-old hockey players boxing wearing hockey helmets and gloves while other players and a coach watched.

The reason it made me sick was that I couldn't believe anyone, from parents to newspaper reporters, could be so naive as to think that this sort of thing doesn't happen or that it is a problem. I mean, what did they think these kids did before and after games? Play chess? Help each other with homework?

Does it matter that the coach was there? Maybe. If he tried to stop it, the kids probably would have done it later when he wasn't around. If he encouraged it, he probably encouraged a fair fight.

In the video (via The Star website), you can clearly see that the fight is stopped part way through when one of the players loses a glove. To resume the fight, the pair tap gloves like gentlemen. Yes, one of them gets clocked pretty hard but nowhere near as hard as he's likely to get hit in an actual hockey game. Keep in mind, they're also wearing helmets.

Cribb's article makes it sound like a bare-knuckle fight to the death.

This isn't a case of a group of guys teaming up on another and beating him senseless, as one of the parents quoted in the article seems to suggest. These two guys probably play on the same line and are having some fun. Or they're working out their differences in a constructive manner.

Some actual investigative reporting would have also revealed how harmless and widespread this type of thing is. Any guys that have grown up playing organized sports know that pre- and post-game roughhousing like this is part of being on a team. I grew up playing lacrosse, and battles like this were pretty much par for the course. I'm 27 years old now, and the guys I play soccer with still try and occasionally knock each other down on the sidelines.

The point is males have been roughhousing and causing trouble while growing up for hundreds of years. This isn't going to change. As soon as there is a blanket ban on "locker-room boxing," I guarantee that these kids will figure out both another way to cause trouble in the dressing room and a way to continue fighting each other outside of the dressing room.

These kids are playing on an organized sports team. They're hanging out with their peers and socializing as athletes in a constructive environment.

There are plenty of actual problems in Toronto that are more deserving of front-page news than this.

I feel sorry for the players and coaches that got captured on video and dragged into this mess. They did nothing wrong.