Peak Communicators
March 7, 2018

Shawn Hall

Specialties

Communications strategy; reputation and trust management; issues, crisis and change; training; media relations; social media management and governance; content development.

Sector experience

Newspaper reporter and editor; corporate communications, most recently national Director of Social and Media Relations for TELUS; PR consulting in sectors including real estate, aquaculture and food production, mining and resource development, biotech, technology and health care.

Education

BA in journalism.

Farthest flung city you’ve been to

Charlottetown, PEI, for the 1989 Scouts Canada Jamboree.

Favourite part of Peak life:

Collaborating with great clients.

Career highlight:

Taking on a New York hedge fund trying to disrupt TELUS’s merger of voting and non-voting shares into a single class in order to profit from short trades.

Favourite B.C. pastime:

Skiing, backpacking, camping with my Scout troop.

Favourite social media site:

LinkedIn.

Random fact:

I won third place in the Agassiz Fall Fair celebrity goat milking contest when I was editor of the local newspaper. The mayor and MLA beat me to the gold.

February 10, 2017

Want to reach everyone at once? Call a news conference

Take the case of the Sunshine Coast Health Centre, a well-respected addiction treatment centre in Powell River where 20-year-old Brandon Jansen died of a fentanyl overdose last March. The centre was getting a lot of bad publicity with family members saying it was easy for Brandon to get contraband drugs within three days of entering treatment.

But investigations by both the RCMP and the regulator – Vancouver Coastal Health’s Community Care Facilities Licensing authority – determined there were no contraventions of rules and regulations.

In fact, the facility had consistently maintained a low risk rating with no other critical incidents or any drug-related incidents reported since the facility was first licensed in 2004. Yet, the centre’s reputation was taking a beating.

CEO Melanie Jordan has much to say about what treatment is – and what it isn’t. Addiction treatment centres are not prisons or lockup. Clients have rights and freedom.

Accredited staff members treat people for many types of addictions including alcoholism and prescription drugs abuse. Root causes of addiction are addressed including mental health and physical issues. Melanie Jordan wanted to speak publicly about the tragic death in her facility and have a voice in the search for solutions to stop the unprecedented number of deaths caused by fentanyl.

She enthusiastically embraced the concept of being front and centre at a news conference to be held November 14th. A Media Advisory was sent out inviting reporters and videographers to attend.

As the news conference got underway, news cameras quickly swung to the doorway where three visitors had appeared: Brandon Jansen’s mother Michelle, her son Nicholas and her lawyer.

They politely listened as the news conference went forward with Melanie Jordan providing reporters with the written investigation reports that found her centre was operating within the regulations.

But her most important message was aimed at the government and the medical profession.

Staff at the centre had not been permitted to administer the opiate antidote naloxone and it was possible that could have saved Brandon’s life.

Since Brandon’s death, the centre has received permission to train staff to administer naloxone and the staff physician can treat clients with Suboxone that takes away the craving for opiates.

With more than a dozen news organizations present at the news conference, this important information was received by the public across Canada. The record was set straight. The way forward was articulated. The news went out – all at once.

And the voice of Brandon Jansen’s family was also heard. They held their own media briefing following the news conference so as much information as possible surrounding this tragic death would be in the public forum.

Melanie Jordan and the Sunshine Coast Health Centre have standing at an inquest into Brandon Jansen’s death scheduled for January. This will be another forum where voices will be heard.

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February 10, 2017

Want to reach everyone at once? Call a news conference

Take the case of the Sunshine Coast Health Centre, a well-respected addiction treatment centre in Powell River where 20-year-old Brandon Jansen died of a fentanyl overdose last March. The centre was getting a lot of bad publicity with family members saying it was easy for Brandon to get contraband drugs within three days of entering treatment.

But investigations by both the RCMP and the regulator – Vancouver Coastal Health’s Community Care Facilities Licensing authority – determined there were no contraventions of rules and regulations.

In fact, the facility had consistently maintained a low risk rating with no other critical incidents or any drug-related incidents reported since the facility was first licensed in 2004. Yet, the centre’s reputation was taking a beating.

CEO Melanie Jordan has much to say about what treatment is – and what it isn’t. Addiction treatment centres are not prisons or lockup. Clients have rights and freedom.

Accredited staff members treat people for many types of addictions including alcoholism and prescription drugs abuse. Root causes of addiction are addressed including mental health and physical issues. Melanie Jordan wanted to speak publicly about the tragic death in her facility and have a voice in the search for solutions to stop the unprecedented number of deaths caused by fentanyl.

She enthusiastically embraced the concept of being front and centre at a news conference to be held November 14th. A Media Advisory was sent out inviting reporters and videographers to attend.

As the news conference got underway, news cameras quickly swung to the doorway where three visitors had appeared: Brandon Jansen’s mother Michelle, her son Nicholas and her lawyer.

They politely listened as the news conference went forward with Melanie Jordan providing reporters with the written investigation reports that found her centre was operating within the regulations.

But her most important message was aimed at the government and the medical profession.

Staff at the centre had not been permitted to administer the opiate antidote naloxone and it was possible that could have saved Brandon’s life.

Since Brandon’s death, the centre has received permission to train staff to administer naloxone and the staff physician can treat clients with Suboxone that takes away the craving for opiates.

With more than a dozen news organizations present at the news conference, this important information was received by the public across Canada. The record was set straight. The way forward was articulated. The news went out – all at once.

And the voice of Brandon Jansen’s family was also heard. They held their own media briefing following the news conference so as much information as possible surrounding this tragic death would be in the public forum.

Melanie Jordan and the Sunshine Coast Health Centre have standing at an inquest into Brandon Jansen’s death scheduled for January. This will be another forum where voices will be heard.

November 25, 2016

How to Spot Fake Online News

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.

October 26, 2016

Timothy Cuffe

Sector experience

Investment banking, finance and private equity, technology, real estate, telecommunications, mining and natural resources, corporate and retail.

Career background

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.

Education

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Political Science and Government from Simon Fraser University

Career highlight

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

Random fact 

Was recognized in PR Week’s 2015 Power Book, which names that publication’s list of the most influential PR professionals around the world.

January 15, 2016

Kelowna PR

All the services of Peak Communicators are available in Kelowna.

No matter what your public relations needs, we can help through Kelowna-based Senior Consultant Chris Olsen.

Chris spent 30 years in radio and TV and is best known as an award-winning CTV consumer reporter, “Olsen on Your Side.” Chris knows what stories media like to tell and helps clients find the stories that will get them noticed. More about Chris and other Peak people.

Chris specializes in getting clients positive news coverage. It often starts with media training for individuals or groups, teaching you how to take advantage of all positive opportunities and deal with any crisis, then developing a public relations strategy and plan to deliver continuing positive news coverage, including social media.

If you’re facing a crisis, Chris is a calm presence who can guide you through the media minefield.

If your needs are more modest, we do that too. Peak does it all, from a single news release about an event or issue to ongoing work to help you build a powerful brand.

At our core we are storytellers, and we’d like to tell yours.

Peak Services

We offer a wide-range of public relations services to Kelowna including:

  • MEDIA RELATIONS; Peak knows how to generate a buzz about your business in traditional and social media.
  • MEDIA TRAINING; Peak has trained thousands of people in cost-effective half-day or full-day sessions. Media training can be individual or groups, even different businesses in the same session.
  • CRISIS COMMUNICATIONS; Let us help you develop a crisis response plan before an incident happens. If you are currently in the midst of a crisis situation, do not worry — we can manage the communication from start to finish.
  • ALL SERVICES; Yes, there is more. A lot more — browse and see how we can help you.

To contact Chris Olsen please email Chris@peakco.com or KelownaPR@peakco.com.

Call 250-808-4910 or Peak Vancouver at 604-689-5559.

November 4, 2015

Media + PR tips and tricks from Canada’s “First Lady”

A recent CTV interview with Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau filmed days before the Canadian federal election, reveals much about the woman who stands “shoulder to shoulder” with the newly sworn in Prime Minister. The interview was not only a window into the family’s core values, it also revealed why she’s a rising media star.

Across generations, Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau has struck a chord. She carries the type of authenticity that doesn’t require age to connect.

In watching the interview, it’s apparent that Sophie’s style of openness and ability to make a connection with people is precisely what makes her so appealing and relatable. You see she’s human.

At Peak we often prepare our clients for media interviews. Whether it’s for print, radio or TV, interviews can be intimidating if you’ve never been put in the hot seat.

Through media training, we help people feel confident and in control of their conversation before they speak with media. There are a few things we could learn from Sophie’s CTV interview. Here’s what she got right.

Know your key messages

While the media may ask the questions, it doesn’t mean they dictate the conversation. In fact by knowing your key messages, which is an essential statement, thought or idea you want to get out in your interview, you remain in control of the conversation.

For Sophie, her key message throughout the conversation was that regardless of what changes around them, “within we’ll stay the same”.

Offer sound bites

By keeping her language simple, short and without jargon means her message is easy to understand.  By doing so, Sophie adds more power and credibility to her response.

Here are a few sound bites, which reflect her key message:

“whatever things you go through, you stay true to who you are, and your core values”

“how you grow out of adversity is a reflection of who you are and who you can become”

Talk like a human

While none would mistake Stephen Harper for talking like a human (watch him talk about his love for TV shows), Sophie speaks with a natural tone, and it never sounds like she’s reading from a script.

When the reporter asks about her children’s reaction to the potential change to their lives, she repeats her key message, “I answer honestly. Inside we’ll still be the same people.”

Open body language

Crossed arms, shifting gaze and fidgeting are just some of the non-verbal cues of someone who is uncomfortable. This could translate to public mistrust and leave doubt in the message that is being delivered.

From the way she leans forward in her chair, to her open legged-stance, warm smile and animated gestures, Sophie exudes an easy openness, which translates to trust. Not only do you want to hear what she’s saying, you believe her.

 

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July 27, 2015

Avigilon

Client Objective

Avigilon designs and manufactures high-definition video surveillance solutions. In 2012, Avigilon was named the fastest growing technology company in Canada on the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 and Cantech’s TSX Tech Stock of the Year.

Peak was brought onboard in early 2012 to raise Avigilon’s brand awareness in the business communities across Canada.

Campaign

Peak developed a media relations campaign that showcased Avigilon’s superior surveillance solutions and products in tier-one Canadian business titles.

The campaign centered on news hijacking, which involved identifying stories or hot topics in the media that Avigilon could comment on. For example, the anniversary of the Vancouver riots or the surveillance needs of retailers in the run-up to Christmas. The news hijacking was complemented by a creative features schedule and sourcing and securing profile opportunities for executives.

Peak also worked with Avigilon to promote its core product announcements. The major launch of 2012 was a new surveillance software system called Avigilon Control Center (ACC) 5.0. To make this news mainstream, Peak tied the futuristic technology into the 10th anniversary of the Tom Cruise film ‘Minority Report,’ demonstrating how the technology featured in the film had now become a reality.

Key Results

In 12 months, Peak achieved the following:

  • 54 pieces of coverage in top-tier Canadian business outlets
  • 4 million impressions among key audiences
  • Coverage equating to the Advertising Value Equivalent (AVE) of over $421,000
  • Coverage in the Financial Post, Globe and Mail, Global TV and BNN

 

July 27, 2015

Alyn Edwards

Specialization

Media training, media relations, issues and crisis communications, video production

Career background

Newspaper and TV reporter for 30 years, followed by 18 years in PR

Education

Bachelor of Arts in English from York University

Volunteer experience

Director and Chair of the Communications Committee for the Boys and Girls Clubs of South Coast B.C.

If you wrote an autobiography, what would you call it?

I didn’t do it all but I sure tried

Furthest flung city you’ve lived in?

Toronto

Favourite part of Peak life

The team attitude that delivers amazing results

Career highlights

Starting Peak with my two co-partners and winning the PR Daily Award for crisis management

PR role model and why

The late Tom Butler was a master of the PR stunt. He once organized a tourism promotion tour through California with a beaver from the Stanley Park Zoo. It created front-page headlines across the state, and I covered it for Global TV at the time

Favourite B.C. pastime

Restoring classic cars, and writing about them too

Favourite social media site

I keep in touch with friends and relations through Facebook

Secret talent

If people can make it, I can fix it!

July 3, 2015

Shael Gelfand

Specialization

Crisis communications, strategic consulting, media training and campaign management

Sector experience

Oil and gas, energy and utilities, mining, retail, automotive, real estate, environmental and hospitality

Education

Diploma of Applied Arts in Broadcast Journalism (SAIT), B.A. History  (University of Calgary)

Volunteer experience

Numerous not for profits including UNICEF,  Dragon Boat Foundation, HKCBA, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Calgary Interfaith Food Bank, Boy Scouts of Canada, Royal Alberta United Services Institute, politics and campaigns

If you were going to write an autobiography, what would it be called?

Tell Me More  

Furthest flung city you’ve lived in?

Lethbridge, Alberta

Favourite part of Peak life

Working with great people on great projects.

Career highlight

Documentary production in remote exotic locations including India, China and the NWT

PR role model and why

Peter Lougheed – He was a great leader and campaigner.

Favourite social media site

YouTube

Languages

English, a little French, Spanish, Hebrew, and Yiddish

Secret talents

Remembering lyrics from obscure songs

Random fact

Ate Muktuk with Inuvialuit trappers north of Tuktoyuktuk NWT