Sports, Corporate and Social Enterprise
I spent two seasons working for the Vancouver Canucks. In my second year with the Canucks I joined the Media Relations Department, where I honed in on my passion for the industry.
Bachelors of Arts (B.A.) Majoring in Communications with a Minor in Print & Digital Publishing and Co-operative Education Distinction from Simon Fraser University
I currently volunteer with the Canucks for Kids Fund.
If you were going to write an autobiography, what would it be called?
The best is yet to come: a tale of pushing yourself to achieve your dreams.
Profiling families who benefit from the Canucks for Kids Fund (CFKF) in order to raise awareness and funds for the cause. Meeting these deserving families and sharing their stories was a heartwarming experience.
Favourite part of Peak life
The people! Peak nurtures a positive and collaborate environment, with ample opportunity to develop and grow professionally.
Favourite social media site
Favourite B.C. pastime
I have a great memory when it comes to song lyrics, my friends call me a walking karaoke machine.
Identify your social media goals
Having a clear direction or end goal to your social media plan is key to determining your strategy and how you measure your return on investment (ROI). To set this up, you need to understand your company’s overall business goals, as well as their marketing / PR objectives. Ideally, a social media plan plays a part in achieving your company’s overall business goals (eg. increasing ticket sales, generating online transactions on an e-commerce website, or breaking into a new market).
Create a content calendar
Keeping your social media accounts active with relevant and quality content is key to being noticed in densely populated platforms. More than 60 million businesses worldwide now have a Facebook page, and each and every one of them are aiming to grow their following. A social media content calendar is an easy way to organize your content strategy and ensure that your company is publishing new (and relevant) ideas regularly.
To judge how well your social strategy is working, monitor the activity around your accounts and listen to how audiences are engaging with you. Firstly though, make sure you know what you know what you want to listen for. There are approximately 6,000 tweets sent in the twitter world every second, so understanding the language around an issue will make it quicker and easier to find the relevant ones.
Using social media listening tools helps you understand what is being said about your business, your brand, and popular topics within your industry. You can even listen in on what your competitors are saying, how they are engaging with their followers, who their followers are, and how their followers are responding to their content.
Now that you’re listening and monitoring your conversations, don’t forget the most important part of social media — engagement. Social media is a powerful communications tool and has revolutionized the way business and brands reach their customers / stakeholders. Engaging with your followers or audience goes towards boosting your brand and reputation in the social sphere.
Analytics and Reporting
Arguably, the most important part of any social media plan is the analytics and reporting. The only way to show value in your social media plan is to demonstrate ROI. For example, if your social media goal is to drive traffic to your website, keep track of these numbers using Google Analytics. Try your best to track absolutely everything based on what your ROI would look like. Report on what social users like and don’t like. Generating reports periodically will help you evaluate your social strategy on an ongoing basis, and guide you to tweaking it so you can achieve your social goals.
Tags: brand journalism, Digital + Social Media, media relations
Most of the world now knows about the “United Airlines incident” after a video of a 69-year-old passenger being forcibly removed from his seat went viral earlier this week.
The video, shot from another passenger’s phone, showed clearly the screaming man being dragged down the aisle, leaving him bloodied and terrified – along with the over- booked flight of witnesses.
Within hours of the video being captured, #United was the leading hashtag worldwide on Twitter. Even in China, where Twitter and Facebook don’t exist, more than 97,000 comments had been recorded on one Weibo post by the end of the day, along with a new hashtag #Chineselivesmatter.
Following the Twitter (and Weibo) eruption of the United Airlines incident, we’re reminded us just how vital a solid social media communications strategy is to any business, particularly in the event of a crisis.
When a crisis does hit a business, social media excels as a way to spread news in a quick and efficient manner. Bad news will always travel fast, and these days it’s likely to gain traction on social platforms before the traditional media get to it. It’s important to have steps in place to manage reaction in the midst of a social media storm and how monitoring early warning alerts of any change in volume or sentiment around your brand will give your team a chance to prepare for what’s coming.
When tackling a social media crisis, I believe there are 5 essential steps that need to be included in any PR plan:
- Plan ahead.
Even if you can’t predict what might set off a social media meltdown, the steps you will need to take are the same: Respond, reassure, research, respond again, and react. Your plan needs to state how you will do this within the tight time demands of social media. Who gets notifications? Who can access the Twitter account? How slow is your approval process? Who has final sign off? Contact details for spokespeople? Have pre-approved statements available, this will make the reaction process far more manageable.
Every business should have social and media monitoring set up to capture what is being said about its brand so that if there’s a spike in negativity, or an emerging issue, you can react instantly. Frankly, a Google alert isn’t really sufficient. For effective monitoring, you need to pin point what it is you want to listen for. There are 6000 tweets sent every second, so understanding the language around an issue will make it quicker and easier to find the relevant ones. Successful monitoring should include daily reporting, early warning alerts if there is a change in volume or sentiment, or mentions from highly influential critics.
- Prepare your posts.
When something happens, you need to be out, publicly, with a response in about 10 minutes. Have a holding tweet at the ready, or a post that acknowledges that something has happened – even if you can’t give out specifics, being the first to acknowledge a situation can go a long way. Even a post that says “We understand an incident has occurred. We are finding out more information and will update in 10 minutes” is better than nothing.
- Pick your platform.
Twitter is the place for breaking news. Facebook is the place for connecting and seeking feedback. Instagram should not be used anywhere near a corporate crisis. Understanding the difference of your social media platforms and having sufficient followers to ensure you can engage when needed is important.
- Respond swiftly and carefully.
It is essential that in any situation involving your business, you are the first person to weigh in and that you have the right information on hand. If you do something wrong admit, apologize, and accept responsibility. The sooner you do, the less likely that your original stuff up will spiral out of control. It’s important to not add fuel to the fire. Understand how your situation is being reacted to on social media and plan your responses accordingly. Even if you do believe your actions are justified, pause to think about how they are perceived.
Chances are, your business is not in the habit of dragging people out of plane seats while being filmed on a smartphone, but there are lessons in United’s response for everyone.
Tags: brand engagement, business, crisis communications, issues management, leadership, media relations, social media
At its core, public relations are about storytelling and now more than ever brands need to have a powerful and compelling story to engage and mobilize their audiences.
The trouble is, storytelling has its limitations. In today’s saturated communications marketplace, where information is digested in smaller sizes and competing against more channels, the ability for a story to engage and retain an audience is becoming increasingly difficult. Furthermore, technology has expanded the ability of audiences to digest information, so brands must find a more meaningful means to deliver a coherent and credible message.
Moving beyond storytelling
Brands today must move beyond segmented campaigns and episodic storytelling and develop a narrative, an central thematic that is the basis of the brand’s identity and strategy. A foundational idea that encompasses and forms all areas of a brand’s engagement across its myriad of channels and stakeholders, be it employees; consumers, traditional media, social influencers, policy makers, etc. A company’s narrative should tell everyone what it stands for and offers an idea for those stakeholders to connect with and align behind.
Today, public relations, corporate relations, publicists and marketers are all competing to engage the same audiences through more integrated means – paid, earned, social and owned – meaning that messaging needs to be not only engaging but also consistent across the various streams, and most important of all, in real time.
Brands must lead conversations
Digital and social media platforms have changed the way brands engage with their audiences. Communication no longer flows in a single direction; audiences are now feeding back to companies on a constant basis. Brands must now lead “conversations”, interacting with their audiences in real time, which has quantifiable impact on their reputation.
Proactively driving engagement is now an absolute. While engaging with audiences across these various channels, brands need to utilize a coherent narrative, one that provides clarity and consistency of that engagement. The ability to communicate a compelling, inclusive and consistent narrative has the power to inspire, energize and mobilize an audience in ways our industry never thought possible.
How to develop a strong narrative
- Have a real understanding of the brand’s purpose and its values. Consumers today are more value driven than ever before. How a company is trying to achieve its objective, is as important as what it is trying to achieve. Ensure your narrative seeks to explain what the brand stands for and what is it is seeking to achieve.
- The narrative must be relatable and easy to explain. To maintain the attention of audiences, a narrative cannot be bogged down in jargon. A strong narrative is based on fact and is not only persuasive but also easily repeatable.
- Be inclusive and insightful. Narratives need to evoke an emotional connection and invite participation. It presents an idea for an audience to believe in, support, and ultimately recommend.
In our hyper-completive, over-saturated communications environment, being able to portray a potent and authentic narrative has the power to genuinely connect with an audience, inspire them to action, and lead them on a journey.
Tags: brand engagement, branding, business, marketing, Media relations vancouver, Public relations, Vancouver PR, Vancouver social media
With the New Year fast approaching, many of us are already getting ready for the holidays. However, before saying goodbye to 2016 – thankfully! – we at Peak decided to take a look back at what’s taken shape in our industry over the last year. Here is a flashback to some PR breakthroughs that set the stage for 2017.
Changes in the digital world
When acknowledging the benchmarks of 2016, it is difficult to overlook the skyrocketing popularity of Snapchat, or what is now Snap Inc. By launching its Spectacles (sunglasses with a purpose built integrated camera), Snap Inc. ceased being just a social app and became a “camera company”. Snapchat changed the way we shared pictures, now they are changing the way we take them.
Tess Flanders said, “A picture is worth a thousand words” and that idiom has never been more appropriate than it is today. With pictures lasting a maximum of 10 seconds, Snap Inc. is the embodiment of “fast and visual” – a new trend that seems to be catching on. In 2016, the world of news continued its evolution to the visual, but it has also gained velocity. Images are circulating faster as the means of sharing and reposting grows exponentially, meaning opportunities can be squandered more often. Something to keep in mind when creating a new PR campaign in 2017, be ready for snapping!
How to deliver your message
2016 has seen some extremely strong digital campaigns created by both conglomerates and non-profits alike. Disney’s #ShareYourEars, West Jet’s Mini Miracles or 7-Eleven’s Reverse Day are only a few examples of 2016’s successfully carried off digital campaigns. For brands to be relevant, they need to create exclusive content specifically designed for social media; the days of simply repurposing traditional media content are over.
Paid social ads
Increasing use of social media for promotional content is linked to the appearance of another phenomenon that strongly influenced the way PR professionals planned their campaigns in 2016. The digital evolution led to the rise of paid digital and social content, and those efforts are increasingly proving to deliver results. To stay ahead of the pack, PR and communications professionals will have to come up with new strategies to best leverage paid content.
We thought the digital age had already reached its peak several years ago, but technology seems to be as good as its word, and has continued to innovate, challenge and shape the way our industry works and thinks. H.G. Wells said it best, “adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature’s inexorable imperative.”
As we look back at a very interesting year, for the world at large as well as for our industry, we can’t help but wonder what 2017 will bring us. Stay tuned and come back in January to read about our predictions for 2017.
Happy Holidays everyone!
As the world’s knowledge grows exponentially, the challenge to sort through the information clutter gets more difficult. We have been bombarded with fake online news stories that are sometimes difficult to differentiate from legitimate news. A proliferation of fake online stories during the recent USA presidential election made decision making even more difficult for American voters, as they tried finding out the truth about who to vote for. Recently USA Today College posted a story on seven ways to spot fake news stories. It’s an important list that all online news consumers should remember.
Some of the seven ways are obvious but worth repeating. For example, check the date of the news story to make sure that it has not been repackaged or reposted, which is usually an attempt to generate new “clicks” and start the story trending. The original news story may in fact be true and accurate, but repackaged it may be taken out of context and turned into misinformation. Take a look at the publication date as soon as you load the story.
Check the source of the story and find out what other articles they have posted. Does it seem legitimate with a history of good posts or do most of their articles read like a checkout counter tabloid. After that, do a quick Google search and see if any other legitimate news sources are running similar stories. If you can find it on www.cbc.ca or www.cnn.com it’s probably real news. Another simple way to determine if a news story is fake is to do some fact checking and find out the source of any accompanying images. Websites like Snopes, Factcheck.org, and TinEye allow you to compare the information to the facts or determine where images, that often add great credibility to a story, come from.
Finally, don’t get trapped by Clickbait – headlines, stories, articles and images that are so funny, so scary or so frustrating that you feel compelled to read or even re-post. After a minute of reflection, ask yourself if this story is too funny or too scary to really be true.
There are other tools available to check news story sources, but it’s also important to use good common sense and a healthy dose of skepticism about anything you read from an online news source, at least until you are certain it is real and credible.
Investment banking, finance and private equity, technology, real estate, telecommunications, mining and natural resources, corporate and retail.
Prior to moving home to Vancouver and joining Peak, I spent 15 years in Asia, most recently as Head of Corporate Communications for Barclays, Asia Pacific. I started my career initially as a financial correspondent, before moving into banking, first on the trading desk at HSBC, and then joining what was then Barclays Capital in 2008.
Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Political Science and Government from Simon Fraser University
Joining Barclays only weeks after its purchase of Lehman Bros at the height of the Global Financial Crisis, and working to promote the firm as it was expanding its footprint of the business across Asia.
Favourite part of Peak life
The diversity. After 15 years working in finance it’s fantastic to work with such a wide array of clients from such different industries.
Favourite social media site
Twitter. The democratization of information has fundamentally changed the nature of how the world understands and views itself.
Furthest flung place you’ve lived?
Tai Kok Tsui, Hong Kong
Was recognized in PR Week’s 2015 Power Book, which names that publication’s list of the most influential PR professionals around the world.
Arts and Culture, Non-profit organizations, Corporate
During university, I worked with multiple student associations on diverse cultural events. After that I was at the Alliance Française of Vancouver, where I worked in a communications and events coordination capacity.
BA in Languages and Literatures and MA in Multilingual Communication from the Université de Louvain, MA in General Management from the Louvain School of Management
I currently volunteer for the Canadian Public Relations Society, the Alliance Française and the YMCA on their major annual fundraising event
Favourite part of Peak life
The people and the company’s culture. No matter how stressful work might be, a touch of humour is always present!
If you were to write an autobiography, what would it be called?
The day I decided to move to the other side of the world
While working at the Alliance Française of Vancouver, I organized a conference about Simone de Beauvoir and the history of feminism in France. A few days before the event I received a call from CBC Radio-Canada asking if I would like to be interviewed. The next morning I was in their studio speaking about my conference for the ‘Boulevard du Pacifique’ show.
Favourite B.C. pastime
Rollerblading on the Seawall around Stanley Park
French, English, Polish, Spanish
Singing terribly, I sing so badly that my friends once bought me a ‘dislike’ stamp
Furthest flung place you’ve lived?
Brussels, Galway, Madrid, Warsaw, pick your favourite!
When I was travelling through Ireland, I met a gentleman carrying a big boar (a stuffed animal, not a real one). Marc (the boar) had his own Facebook page with pictures from all the places he has visited. I ended up on his Facebook page as a ‘boar travel companion’
Chelsea Clinton at the National Democratic Convention 2016
Both of the Presidential candidate’s daughters spoke a week apart at the respective conventions. Both are young and attractive women and mothers. Both spoke with praise about their parents. For both it was the most important speech of their lives and in front of the biggest audience ever.
Chelsea Clinton talked of her mother’s love for service and her great skills and love as a mother and grandmother. In contrast Ivanka Trump’s speech was about her dad’s focus on his business career.
If you were reading the text of each speech, they both supported their parents and described what they are well known for. But that is not how TV works.
Back in 1964 Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase: “The Medium is the Message.” He wrote all about it in his most widely known book, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, published in 1964. McLuhan proposes that a medium itself, not the content it carries, should be the focus of study. McLuhan said that a medium affects the society in which it plays a role not only by the content delivered over the medium, but also by the characteristics of the medium itself.
Invanka Trump at the Republican National Convention 2016
So put the content of the speeches aside, and think back on how the ladies presented. One person had a clear advantage and expertise performing on TV. That was Ivanka Trump. She has co-hosted her dad’s national TV show “The Apprentice” and spoke with ease to the thousands in the stadium and the millions tuning in. She was confident, paused when she needed to and looked like she had made dozens of similar speeches before. She definitely has the training and like her dad she knows how to put on a show.
Chelsea Clinton, not so much. Chelsea has made speeches before, but she’s more tentative, not a commanding presence as all. While pleasant, she is not a forceful personality. Subtly, she came across as lacking confidence.
Donald Trump does not have a lot of substance in what he says, but his bombastic, argumentative and dominating presence his taken him to the top of the Republican ticket. None of his competitors work TV the way Trump does.
One of the big knocks on Hillary Clinton is that people don’t know who she is – they don’t know her; therefore they don’t trust her. Even when TV media are friendly to her, the TV medium is not.
Does the top TV performer always win? The Trumps hope so.
Fun to watch.
Last year I was invited to be a keynote speaker at the Canadian Public Relations Society’s (CPRS) AGM to share my public relations CSI experience on the African continent. This is my story….
Before we get started let’s clarify the definition of CSI and CSR, which are sometimes used interchangeably. CSI, or corporate social investment, is the organization’s contributions (either monetary, employee time and resources, or gifts in kind) which bring benefits over and above those directly associated with the core business activities. CSR, or corporate social responsibility, on the other hand is a corporation’s initiatives to assess and take responsibility for the company’s effects on environmental and social wellbeing such as companies “going green”.
Companies need to invest in CSI as it ensures their contribution towards building and enhancing the quality of life for the people in the communities that they operate in, both internally and externally. When companies involve themselves in CSI programs it improves the recognition of their brand and can contribute towards brand loyalty.
CSI provides a social return on investment
Corporate social investment is more than just financial spending; it can also intensify a company’s commitment to its own mission. Global pharmaceutical company, Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS), for example, launched the “Secure the Future” program in 1999 offering grants to countries in Africa for women and children living with HIV/AIDS. To date, this has made a positive and lasting difference in the lives of more than 1 million women and children. The information that BMS has access to in the pandemic, as a result of their social investment, may also prove to be helpful in their on-going research and product development.
CSI initiatives have to be sustainable to be effective
In order for a CSI initiative to be sustainable, it needs to be treated like a business initiative. It cannot merely be an investment with no financial return. Even the most innovative, well-received CSI initiatives will eventually fizzle out if not directly tied to the business motives of the company. It will only continue for as long as the company has the appetite for spending money. As soon as the economy suffers or profits drop, CSI will be the first thing to be cut from a company’s budget. CSI program stand a much better chance of survival if they are tied to the profitability and sustainability of the company itself. Therefore, due diligence should be performed on all CSI initiatives: there should be a strong business case, and like all businesses, there should be a business plan with clear, measureable outcomes.
One company that has succeeded in proving a sustainable CSI campaign that is tied to its organizational goals is McDonald’s McHappy Day. In South Africa, for instance, this is a global charity event that aims to raise money for HIV/AIDS orphanages in South Africa. In the past, celebrities have enthusiastically worked at McDonald’s restaurants nationally over one weekend to raise the targeted amount of money while customers flooded the restaurants to meet their local celebs and to buy a meal.
CSI campaigns have to be authentic to survive
CSI activities cannot be a smokescreen for an organization’s real social or environmental impacts. For example, a company that sells designer clothes that runs an excellent CSI programme aimed at looking after HIV orphans, while most of its clothes are made through child labour in textile factories that use and pollute water unsustainably and foster corruption, is not accomplishing anything but setting themselves up for scandal.
While companies can contribute through CSI initiatives, the impact is far more significant if it is integrated into its core business at a local level, such as its procurement and employment practices.
At the end of the day, a well thought out and executed CSI campaign can work wonders for one’s brand identity and help the brand achieve PR exposure far beyond their expectations. Combined with public relations, a good CSI campaign can take a company to a completely new level and even establish it as a leader and innovator in its industry. As such, companies should consider investing in a reputable CSI campaign to share the love, spread the love and organically boost their brand identity too.
Tags: Corporate social investment, corporate social responsibility, CPRS, CPRS Vancouver, CSI, CSR, Public relations