New Bathroom etiquette?

toilet

Have you noticed the “flushing signs” popping up in public bathrooms? With the gradual switch to electronic toilets, we seem to be a bit confused these days about bathroom etiquette.

The slow introduction of new technology can have unintended consequences. Just in case you conclude this piece is about Monday Motivation only, read my post on the gradual introduction of a new brand identity  and how this may have unintended consequences.

To flush or not to flush?

My most recent example (left) comes from the wonderfully renovated Robertson building on Spadina Street in Toronto.

No-touch taps, no-flush toilets, no-touch hand dryers, automatic soap dispensers — it seems to be a trend. What’s the end goal, I ask? Will it cut the spread of germs? Suggestions?

Please send me your photos of similar signs! I’ll eventually share my growing collection of these types of signs that help us navigate the brave new world of hi-tech bathrooms.

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Do junior staff outperform on social media?

old computerIf you wish, call this post Confessions of an Older Communications Consultant.

Often, organizations hire young staffers to fill social media jobs.

Is this an example of ageism in the workforce?

I used to think so.

After reviewing media consumption logs maintained by a Canadian university class recently, I gained a different perspective.

The average student self-reported six and a half hours of media consumption in a typical 24-hour period. This included three hours on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube  and Instagram.

Apparently, for many young people, social media is in their DNA; it’s a lifestyle.

Employees with family responsibilities, jobs, commutes, community commitments, and after-hour Inbox overload can’t spend hours a day, every day, on social media.  Moreover, would they have any desire to do so? (And, here is my confession: I certainly do not have the desire to do so.)

Does it take 180 minutes daily to become truly social media savvy? Probably not. Can older individuals successfully invest significant professional time into social media? Understand how it interacts with other tools in the communication toolbox and can help to build customer loyalty, brand and bottom lines? Absolutely.

But, to be fair, a young employee who routinely invests 180 minutes each day into social media will likely be highly qualified to accept social media responsibilities, and, more importantly, love the job.

One footnote: When a business wants to target Boomers and older consumers, the online strategy and content should likely to be driven by a content writer who understands this cohort. A person who engages in new media consumption and “hangs out” on Facebook like other middle-aged consumers.  After all, almost half of those over 65 who use the Internet now have a Facebook account according to a recent Pew study.

 

Cash and content are king in our digital world

cartoonby Nandy Heule

An SEO marketing company recently plastered simple flyers on telephone poles to advertise their services in mid-town Toronto.

One of their offers included “content bundles.” For example, three articles and 40 social media posts each month will cost you $99 for 1,500 words.

Maybe it sounds self-serving, but I’m concerned about this service offering.

The general consensus now suggests “content is king.” Your online info will be read if it is of serious interest to the readers you are targeting as well as SEO-friendly. Moreover, such content needs to be free of grammatical errors, typos and plagiarism.

A steady trickle of new, quality content will improve search engine performance. Such blog posts and news updates showcase an organization’s experience, creativity, and commitment to excellence. Quality content helps build influence and reputation, not just web traffic. It builds brand and bottom lines.

It makes sense to hire an experienced freelance writer who can work with rough notes, industry research, client success stories and other materials. She can turn such information into compelling copy — content that tells a brand story, demonstrates positive impact, and builds influence. Please plan to pay more than $99 for 1,500 words for this process. But, be confident that what you look like online matches the quality work you provide.

If the content marketing budget can’t exceed $99 a month, talk to a good writer who can produce 1 or 2 pieces of quality material. Less may very well be more!  A client testimonial, an industry event, an inspirational quote, a staff bio, an image with a caption, or a factoid can all provide strong content on a limited budget.

Don’t hesitate to contact me if you need a Toronto-based freelance writer to have a look at your content and evaluate its effectiveness.

Google key word search: How Federal parties label Canadians

NDP-cloud“The Conservatives refer to Canadians primarily as taxpayers, the NDP talks about the working class, and the Liberals like to say we are citizens,” said Liberal candidate Rob Oliphant recently at an All Candidates Meeting in Toronto.

Sounds good. It seems like a neat way to summarize the core difference between the parties.

Can we confirm Mr. Oliphant’s observation? We informally reviewed party platforms and websites for the type of key phrases they use. We used widely available online tools.

The Conservative platform refers to tax, taxes and taxpayers almost 200 times. The term hard-working family and hard-working Canadian is also used over and over again.

In contrast, the NDP platform refers to taxpayers four times, mentions citizens eight times and makes numerous references to working parents, working moms and dads, and the working poor. We could not find any references to the “working class” as a group.

The Liberals refer to taxpayers twice and refer to our role as citizens six times. Working parents are barely mentioned in the lengthy platform. (Then again, all parents contribute to society and work hard, including stay-at-home parents.)

What about the websites of the leading parties?

If you need more evidence the Conservatives like to control communications, here it is: several widely used online tools to analyze key words were unable to search www.conservative.ca.

In contrast, identical tools applied to www.ndp.ca and www.liberal.ca  reveal some interesting points. “Tom Mulcair”, and not much else, seems to matter most to the content writers of the NDP site; very few additional key words are used. The Liberal site uses key words such as “real change” and, as expected, the phrase “Justin Trudeau” pops up regularly. Middle class is also a key phrase on the Liberal website. Neither key word search produced our desired terms: citizen, taxpayer or working class Canadians.

So how would you prefer to be labelled, if you needed to make a choice? The Conservatives seem to have hijacked the term (hard) working (class) families while the NDP fails to claim its roots as a party fighting for the traditional working class. If the Liberals want to appeal to our pride as citizens, neither their platform nor website make much of an effort.

So, take your pick on October 19. What would you rather be: a taxpayer, a citizen, a member of the working class, all of the above, or just a middle class Canadian who wants to protect the economy while bringing real change to Ottawa during a time when we all worry about health care and the environment?

Selfies smart PR strategy for campaigning politicians

Selfietripper

Illustration by Paul Faassen first published in Vrij Nederland, 11July 2015

At a recent campaign event, Justin Trudeau was giving lots of kids the opportunity to take a selfie with him. Smart move by our Liberal Leader.

If nothing else, he validated the parents’ decision to drag their children out to a political event early in the morning. And, these kids may well boost voter turn-out among youth in the near future.

At times, it must be painful for our national party leaders to suffer through endless selfie assaults by the party faithful.

But it’s also a great PR strategy.

The selfie has become a mandatory tool to illustrate our success in life, says Dutch writer Els Quaegebeur, in her recent article in the weekly news magazine Vrij Nederland. She adds, when we send these pictures we no longer need to explain our success, we demonstrate it.

(Are these images are our new postcards? Forget putting a piece of cardboard on the fridge. We can now Tweet, post, share, email, text, and Snapchat the evidence of our latest adventures.)

Once posted on social media, our selfies are the new show ‘n’ tell: Look, I met a famous Canadian! Hey, I met Trudeau (or fill in ____ for your favorite politician).”

In the process, these innocent pictures turn into powerful brand building tools for political leaders. The selfies we share on social media turn into thousands of public endorsements. “Me and my smiling MP”; last time I checked, that’s free, positive PR and leverages the exhausting, costly campaign events politicians must attend across the country to get (re)elected.

Go ahead then, do your share to build the brand of your favorite politician – try to grab a selfie at the next rally you attend, enjoy the moment, and hit the social media circuit.

T

Social media’s selfies become legacy media’s sustenance

Wai Young, MPThis July 14 was an exceptionally heavy news day. The historic nuclear deal with Tehran, the Pan Am games, and the first photos of Pluto competed for airtime.

Yet, an obscure fur trader in St. John’s, NFL, and Conservative backbencher Wai Young in Vancouver made the editorial lineup on CBC’s The National.

Why?

Blame the “celebrity factor” for our furrier’s moment of fame. Bernie Halloran is a smart business man. One of Rod Stewart’s entourage asked him to rent some of his fur coats for the women about to accompany the singer on an outdoor stage in chilly St. John’s. Instead, Halloran offered to loan the outfits at no cost. Pure PR instinct, I suggest. The decision earned the merchandiser a selfie with the celebrity wearing a sealskin coat. Of course, the savvy Halloran posted the shot on his Twitter feed. Next, anti-fur activists responded by lambasting Stewart for wearing seal fur. In this case, all publicity is good publicity. “It’s the middle of July, people are talking about fur. It’s pretty cool,” concluded Halloran in an interview with CBC’s Ian Hanomansing.

Let’s blame the complete absurdity of our MP Young’s comments about the Air India disaster for her spot on The National. She delivered her talk at a relatively small church at the fringes of main stream Canadian Christendom. The pastor shared his selfie with the MP with his very modest number of Twitter followers. Next, the MP’s comments spread into the wider, secular world.

First, no matter who you are and where you are, watch those selfies.

And, of course, the two stories  demonstrate once again the fascinating interdependence of legacy media outlets and social media even on a day when history is made in outer space and right here on earth.

Gradual introduction of new brand may flush “Wow! Factor” down the drain

Have you noticed the improvised signs popping up in public bathroom? (see illustration!)

With the gradual switch to electronic toilet flushing, we seem to be a bit confused these days about bath031room etiquette. To flush or not to flush? The slow introduction of new technology can have unintended consequences.

How could this possibly be related to introducing a new visual brand identity – a new logo?

In 2008, with the launch of the Beijing Olympic Games, Bell launched a new corporate brand. Except, someone apparently decided it was either too expensive or logistically impossible to re-paint hundreds of service vehicles – billboards on wheels, all of them. In fact, the Bell vans on the road undermined expensive billboard advertisements along the road. The “wow factor” of the new brand was compromised, I thought.

More recently, a neighborhood non-profit in Toronto repeated the Bell story. The charity adapted its name and introduced a new logo. The move was overdue and well done. Again, I noticed that the organization’s vehicles driving through my neighbourhood still carried the agency’s original logo and name. So did a large sign displayed on their building.This continued for at least a full year.

Unfortunately, reinventing an organization’s visual identity is an expensive proposition. Before an organization considers going ahead with the project, it may be wise to make a complete list of absolutely every customer touch point: biz cards, baseball caps, vehicles, social media platforms, displays, printed marketing collateral, packaging materials and, likely, many other items. Can the organization introduce the new logo everywhere within a reasonable amount of time? If not, what items need to be prioritized and why?

Some other questions an organization may wish to ask: Have we really done an honest cost/benefit analysis for the brand project? Does it make more sense to make this change during an upcoming anniversary year and build some general PR around the new brand launch? How much would it hurt to wait a few more years so budget can be set aside to cover all associated costs? (Meantime, existing marketing materials can be used up or re-produced in much smaller quantities.)

A gradual introduction of a new brand identity may be necessary to spread costs, but it can threaten the very reasons for doing the exercise in the first place.