The Bachelor offers JU-AN valueable lesson in PR.

(Meant to post this weeks ago! lo siento)

If you were not fortunate enough to be a spectator of this, the most “dramatic season ever” of The Bachelor …. s’okeh.

This will be quick and painless, I promise.

All you need to know is that no one got engaged and that everyone now despises the once loveable, La Vida Loca-living, soccer ball bouncing, Venezuelan bachelor – Juan Pablo.

After a few post-rose debates with frien…I mean…colleagues, I started asking was he really all that bad – or did he just have some severe communication issues?

I think I can boil down Juan Pablo’s demise with a couple of simple PR rules: 1. Know your audience and 2. Culture Communications 101.


1. Know your audience: more importantly, know what page they are on and how they need to hear from you. The phrase “s’okey” (#itsok or other versions)  will go down in dating guidebooks as the most despised phrase of indifference to ever be uttered in a relationship.

Juan clearly wasn’t taking into account his female partners reaction to this phrase. While he may have meant it to come off as easy-going and non-invasive; when uttered repeatedly during a heartfelt confession or emotional revelation, it was in fact, making the girls feel devalued, deflated and patronized. s’not okey.

Use your key messages JP; here are some sample phrases that you could switch out on your next dating show:

‘I understand’

‘I hear you’

‘That makes sense’…. or even the old stand by…

‘Fine by me’

2. Culture Shock

Now, I enjoyed playing devil’s advocate in some of these discussions and thought to myself, is he really the world’s biggest douche bag, or is it perhaps a culture barrier?

The truth is that culturally, people’s reactions and inferences are quite different. Anyone who has dabbled in marketing or distribution overseas could speak to this point. The gestures, tone and inferences of someone who might be born in another country don’t often ‘come off’ as they would from an individual who has been brought up in that same country.

To me, Juan wasn’t really being any more of a jerk than he was when the show started – his demeanor, attitude and actions remained fairly consistent while I found the girls needs, perceptions and interpretations changed as they became more emotionally involved.

In the end – they came to the same realization that we could all plainly see from the start;

this ain’t gonna work honey. In any language.

From Ju-an PR pro to another – hope you’ve enjoyed this playful pun of a blog.

What the Polar Vortex teaches us about business

… not much really, just wanted to stay relevant … but seriously, what do you do if everything shuts down for a day, a week, a month? Power’s out, roads aren’t letting people through, you’re snowed in, neighbours are just as bad off as you…. what do you do?

Get back to basics, I guess. Make sure everyone knows how to build a fire, eat wieners and beans for a while, share stories, reach out to loved ones … not bad business advice.

When business gets hit or is thrown off schedule due to things like sudden illness, departure of figurehead or key employee, shutdown of facility/plant, financial hardship – it can feel like things come to a dead stop. Here are some tips on how to not to let a set back FREEZE you to a standstill.

build a fire

Make sure everyone knows how to build a fire. There is nothing worse than being the ONLY one with your corporate passwords, usernames and knowledge of how to post a tweet. Take some advice, if you have one person in command of this area – be sure that you can involve at least one other person in these daily affairs. Send a link with quick tutorial or just let them look over your shoulder for an hour one day. You will be grateful and it will ease some pressure.

Eat wieners and beans for a while.  Well, if your circumstances are dire or strained, take some pressure off of being ‘Julia Child’ for a night and just eat what’s in your cupboards. Corporately speaking, if you find yourself in less than ideal circumstances financially or internally, it may not be the best time to hit the ‘launch’ button or start any new endeavours. Focus on doing what you are currently doing, but perhaps direct tight resources to improving or making it better. You may appreciate having the extra time to let things ‘digest’.

Share Stories. Do you have any good ones? Are there people who have a better delivery than you? The best way to get more comfortable telling your stories and sharing news and information is to just start! Start that blog you’ve been meaning to get to, look at how and what others are tweeting about, think about how you can share your expertise with others, check out how businesses are using Facebook. If you have nothing ‘going on’ with your business – you can at least start telling people what you’ve already done and accomplished!

Reach out to loved ones. This is never a bad idea in the wake of a storm. If there has been a shift or stall at your company, it may be time to re-think your approach, systems or service model – and talking to others is a great place to start! One cup of coffee is FULL of potential. Start with colleagues, referral partners and even past clients. Asking others about their progress, goals and business can sometimes light fires and link bridges that get you back on the road!

#PRVortex. You’re welcome🙂

Putting the ‘Public’ back in PR

I said pubLIC….

So I’ve been reviewing a lot of articles about “why PR is important”, “what is PR”, etc.

Most offer a good understanding of this diverse area of expertise but often only touch on tactics like Media Releases, Press tours, Trade shows, Product shots (and sometimes) Social Networking … but what I found interestingly lacking was mention of the word PUBLIC when describing PR?

As per my website (soon to be refurbished btw) a crucial part of Public Relations for many SMBs is actually centred around your corporate image and relationship with your immediate public, neighbours and community.

In addition to reaching “as many eyeballs as possible to get the word out about how your product is the greatest” !!!…. PR may also be micro-tailored to include strategies that support an organization’s foundation and its roots.

Let’s say your company’s intention is to gain (or sway) support of a specific group or outlet upon which your success depends (investors, government, industry, community leaders) . A PUBLIC Relations campaign may include things like:

  • Developing a multi-level outreach strategy to specific persons or organizations.
  • Create a mini-campaign or separate event (socially, internally) to build following and likeability among similar groups to the one you are targeting.
  • Maintaining a consistent image and message in front of key audiences – speaking, media, other.
  • Fostering relationships / setting up meetings with influencers and change makers in local communities.

The word ‘public’ is also the number of different “audiences” on which your organization depends for its success, such as:

  • Thought leaders
  • Activists
  • Sponsors/Investors
  • Partners
  • Customers…

Each requires their own key messages to be driven home in order to gain their respect and support.

(… and we wonder why it is SO hard to answer when someone asks – “PR – so what does that involve.” … Got an hour?)

What do you think? Do you often consider these micro-publics in your PR strategy? Or are you focused on the big three – MEDIA, FACEBOOK and TWITTER?

Good Articles Come to Those Who Wait

waitingWhen I build my media lists, I always include monthly and industry magazines that are published around the clients area. Although at times it is much harder to get the attention of these highly targeted publications, I view the additional time to tailor a pitch worth it, for three reasons:

1. It allows the client to see how his/her product or service can be translated to ‘fit’ in front of different audiences (readership base) – giving them better appreciation for PR and messaging approach.

2. These publications often have a longer shelf life as well as ‘shareabilty’ due to their quality, targeted demographic and visual appeal – therefore more chances for client to be seen.

3. Because of longer lead times and editorial schedules, it’s always fun to call a client after you have finished up a contract to let them know that they have yet another interview/article.

This happened most recently for a client of mine who was approached by a widely read lifestyle publication out of Georgian Bay area, four months after her initial launch took place.

Why PR people like this:

  • Allowed me to deliver value to the client MONTHS after our partnership.
  • Keeps my services on the radar for further engagement
  • Great reminder for client to give a referal😉

Anniversary post – 2013 checklist

Happy Seven Years, Catalyst Communications Choreography!


It has been a great journey so far, and one full of learning, excitement, challenge and maturity.

I’d like to reference a post from earlier in 2013, called Walking the Talk and it was a time of great inspiration for me and my company. I called it my Shiny Shoes Take Over because I needed to get a new pair of shoes, I needed to BeDazzle my company in order to accomplish my goals, I needed to start walking the talk!! – Something had moved me, stirring a wave of creativity, knowing I had to aim for bigger and better things.

Here was a few of my “To Do”s for the remainder of 2013 and how it went:

1. Get more Followers: that was it. I needed to get on top of building my professional profile on Linked in and Twitter in order to showcase talents, increase credibility, and get on radar of potential clients. I also used it as a source for B2B networking, which has been a challenge for me.

  • Status: I increased my twitter following by approx 64% as well as made a monthly list of ‘top PR people to follow on twitter’ by the fall – small but satisfying accomplishment. Also, beefed up my Linked in Profile with some helpful expertise. and added about 80 ppl to my network in a few months.
  • How’d she do it?: 1. Better blog posts 2. Commenting on blogs and Linked in Group posts 3. Following more relevant and like-minded PR, marketing and media folks on twitter.

2. Beef up my BLOG: I wanted to increase my influence among professionals and gain credibility using real life client case studies. I have a TON of knowledge and have gained so much experience that it would be a shame not to document and share it.

  • Status: I now have a blog that I am proud of. Each post is relevant, timely, uses real life examples and paints a good picture of my company’s knowledge and expertise. I am still working on more link sharing, following other blogs (sorry!) and related articles but all gets easier and better – and faster. If you’re waiting on this – just START! I also have created a small following – which tells me people are reading, and liking.
  • How’d she do it?: 1. Frequency. I posted more regularly (save December) – and tried to publish on Tues or Thurs at times that were most-read. I’m not saying I could do wayyyy better, but for me, it was a huge step to be able to commit to an average of 1 blog per week – this was my goal🙂 2. Quality. I do not use my blog for drivel, or rants (ok, maybe the odd rant) but I always try to turn it to something meaningful that people can use, share or take away. Quality over quantity. 3. Audience. I tried to write posts so that they would be relatable for PR professionals, but could be of value to business owners who were looking to understand PR. It also gives clients (present and potential) a feel of ‘what I do’, ‘how I think’ and ‘what my company does’. I now almost direct more people to my blog than my website – (yikes! i know… that’s next)

3. Update My Website: I always knew I needed some updating on my site, but it really hit me when I ran into a former colleague/client and after chatting about the stuff I’ve been doing and the steps I’ve made she said simply, “You need to update your site!” Which to me meant, ‘your site no longer reflects you, and doesn’t speak to how you’ve grown or what you can do for people.’ HUGE!

  • Status: still working on this one BUT have made much progress behind the scenes and may be as early as Feb 2014.
  • How’d she do it?: 1. Engaged with designers and video production people, asking questions and getting ideas of how my company could be better reflected online. 2. Found an affordable and edgy web designer who I think can capture my needs 3. Researched other sites and learned what I liked and didn’t like. Exploring the use of infographics, social media and video to remain more current in portraying my services to visitors.

4. Time to Walk the Talk: This basically means that I had to start leading by example. If I thought I was the expert in using social media to communicate a clear directive and message, I had to be better at it myself. If I knew how to get a news story published, I had share some tips. If I was telling people what wasn’t working for their website, mine needed to do the same. If I was reading and researching the latest PR and marketing practices and expanding my knowledge and being DAM good at what I do – I needed people to believe it!

I have now adopted ‘Walk the Talk’ as a company motto for how I service my clients, and I hope that I can continue to lead by example in 2014.

Happy New Year everyone🙂

Coca Cola Journey – Why the press release ain’t dead yet!

ScreenHunter_01 Nov. 27 13.59

Coca Cola has developed a new digital magazine hybrid which was built to support and eventually replace; corporate website, corporate blog and social media channels – called Coca Cola-Journey. In a recent seminar introducing the new platform,  Ashley Brown, Digital Communications Social Media for Coca Cola, stated “If there is one mission I have at Coke, it’s to kill the press release”…. Finishing up in the clip with “we have committed to cut the amount of press releases by half in 2014.”

OK PR and marketing reps, Insert “Grain of Salt” here.

I agree that we are in a time and place where it is imperative for PR reps to think ‘beyond’ a press kit, static website, launch package, and media release for their client. (But then… I have always operated under this belief). I also think that if there is anyone to explore and introduce this innovative, brand-interactive platform it would probably be Coke. But I do feel that language Brown uses in the intro such as “the corporate website it dead” or “the age of Press release PR is ending” … needs to be taken in context and seen in light of individual corporate goals and corporate brand placement.

So before you create all-interactive-all-the-time strategy for your client, take this into account;

Sure, kill the press release – Easy to say when you have had brand domination for over 100 years….! Everyone knows Coca Cola’s story, history, brand, image, not to mention they are one of the most recognizable symbols in the world! (besides the holy cross) Yes, you can probably afford to cut down your releases by half and people will still be talking about you.

But there exists a place for rich storytelling through media, perhaps now more than ever. Every story has been already told (sold), but it’s up to us as PR experts to find the innovative, moral and socio-economic relevance of our clients and tell their stories in a new way. It can’t be on the journalists shoulders to find those angles, nuances, and myriad of possibilities. Too much already, we are bogged down by headline inertia and everything ends up reading like a tabloid – bite sized, shock worthy, sharable and desensitized.

Are we just wanting to ‘hear the facts’ or do we want to learn, grow and be challenged and engaged with our news? I think Coke has been a giant so long that they don’t know what it’s like trying to get your neck out above the fray in this day and age…. and why should they? They’re Coke!

But for the rest of us – I would argue that the press release is still very much alive and an important tool in the spectrum of outreach and creating touch points with customers.

What do you think? – Is social media a means to an end or the end itself, if so WHEN does it make that fundamental shift in a brand’s journey to take on such a life of its own?

Take the poll PR pros and marketers!🙂