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Preview: Mutually Inclusive PR

Mutually Inclusive PR

Eric Eggertson on communications, marketing, and life in Canada

Published: 2007-11-02T07:04:23-06:00


Conducting PR in the Million-channel Blogiverse


There's a better way. That's what the social media early adopters keep telling their counterparts in public relations and marketing. Obviously, the message isn't getting through to the brainiacs who keep churning out key messages, the same old news releases and following them up with pitches for things that aren't news, to the wrong people, in the wrong way. I was speaking to a class of Regina public relations students last night with my notes about engaging with the entity formerly known as the blogosphere. This theme/meme is being repeated over and over again, often with great clarity: Thanks to Brian Solis' response to the recent Chris Anderson dust-up, here is an excellent list of some related posts. Promoting Change: Geoff Livingston, Plasticbag Organgrinder Jeremy Zawodny Copywrite Commercial Archive PR. Differently darrenbarefoot Common Sense PR PSFK BoingBoing AccMan AR&D Bad Pitch Blog Jeremy Pepper Cartoon Barry Blog JackieDanicki Marketing Begins at Home

Social Media Suggestions for High School Reunion?


My 30 year reunion is coming up this fall, and I've said I'd pull together a website. Any suggestions for a good combination of web tools to help people post information, sign up for events, share photos, and generally stay informed about plans? I'm looking at various wikis as possible platforms for most of the information. And I was assuming I could possibly piggyback on a platform like Facebook, a photo sharing site, or something like that. Any suggestions would be gratefully appreciated! Leave me a note here, or e-mail me at eggertson (at) gmail. (dot) com. Tags: reunions, wvss, high school, wikis, blogs, websites, west vancouver

Tod Maffin, Video Star


My favourite geek is coming to a screen near you. Starting June 1, Tod Maffin is hosting a live video show on According to the Todster, it's about personal technology, and will feature 45 minutes of live call-in (via computer) every Friday night. Tod says he has funding from Alliance Atlantis for the web TV show, which will include visits to various technology companies across Canada. One thing's for sure: there's nothing on regular TV Friday nights to compete. Good luck, Tod. Tags: tod maffin, tv, video, canadian, tech, gadgets, todbits, webtv, live,

Prairie Drama this Week: The Red Truck


We got back to the house at 1:30 this morning from our road trip to Meacham to see James O'Shea's The Red Truck. For a play about rural Saskatchewan, the setting is just right. Dancing Sky Theatre operates out of a converted community hall in the village of Meacham, east of Saskatoon. There is room for just over 100 seats, plus a restaurant where you can get a meal before the show. The silences and pauses are the best part of the play. As funny as many of the lines are, the unspoken disagreement between the farmer and his son say more about their relationship. O'Shea puts a new twist on the story of passing on the family farm to a new generation. In this case, the father wants his son to escape the financial burden of keeping a farm running, but the son prefers farming to anything else he's tried. Of the staged readings, productions and broadcasts I've come across on this subject, most are way too earnest or melodramatic. Nice to see a professional cast breathe life into a good script. O'Shea's first play Dogbarked started at Dancing Sky and progressed to the Prairie Theatre Exchange and the Globe Theatre. That's precisely what a theatre like Dancing Sky is supposed to do: allow Canadian plays to prove there are stories written here that can make good theatre. The Red Truck, by James O'Shea, directed by Angus Ferguson. Patricia Drake, Tom O'Hara and Rob Roy. Music by Ernie Kurz, lighting design by Denise Hansen. See also: For Love, not Money, Canadian Theatre Encyclopedia, Dogbarked, Dogbarked Study Guide (PDF). Tags: james o'shea, dancing sky theatre, meacham saskatchewan, the red truck, drama, plays, prairie, playwright

Fairy Tale with a Twist - Kelley Jo Burke's Charming and Rose at UofR


Kelley Jo Burke's Charming and Rose: True Love is playing Monday and Tuesday night (April 30, May 1) at the University of Regina's ShuBox Theatre. Since I'm married to the playwright, I'll avoid bias and just say this is a superb play that tackles the myth of the perfect woman as defined by controlling men. Rose is a fairy tale princess who falls for Prince Charming. The results are dramatic. I'll be there Monday night. Looking forward to seeing Kate Herriott as the fairy godmother, Greg Ochitwa as Prince Charming, and Talitha Cuthbert as Rose. Language and sexuality warning, blah, blah. Call the UofR box office at 585-5500, for tickets, or bug the Theatre department. Here's Kelley Jo's website (just three pages so far, but more to come).

Microsoft's HD Photo Format - the JPEG Killer at Last?


I've never recommended a 2-hour podcast segment to anyone before. Hell, I don't think I've ever listened to a 2-hour show before. But if you're interested in digital photo formats, the future of photo file compression, industry standards and the quandary of proprietary RAW file formats for every camera brand, you should check out episode 51 of This Week in Media. TWIM usually covers the film industry from the camera operators' or special effects persons' point of view. This week it's all about digital photo formats, and the status of Microsoft's HD Photo format. I'm no math scholar, but I could keep up with the discussion as MS's Bill Crow explained some of the limitations of JPEG, TIFF, RAW and other file formats. I was also able to keep up when he got into a description of the algorhythm used in the new format, and how it allows for more information to be maintained about what the camera's sensors picked up. The payoff at the end of the show (okay, it's only 1 hour, 53 minutes, not the full two hours) is when they talk about Photosynth, a cool tool Microsoft is developing to analyse and piece together photos from different angles, based on the grouping of objects or surfaces in different photos that are identified to help the tool place the image spatially in a 3-D viewing light table.

The Canadian Telco/ISP Rip-off Continues


What the hell is wrong with the ISP and mobile phone business in Canada? Gone are the days when you could just buy a service. Now, everything you do is an attempt to reduce the service levels below useless, or ding you for "extras" (no one has the guts to charge extra yet for services like "phone rings when someone's calling you," but that day will come). It's all about getting maximum ARPU (average revenue per user). This week, Tod Maffin got me to fiddle with a Bell cell phone, so he could record the experience for his technology column on CBC Radio. It was rather ironic that two geeks spent a good 10 minutes trying to figure out how to download a movie and watch it on the cell phone. Not only do they want to increase your spending, but they can't be bothered to make it easy for you to do that. Today Techdirt has a good piece about Rogers throttling back its Internet speed for customers using torrents and other peer-to-peer downloading services. Their latest step is to reduce the speed of traffic that's encrypted. What's wrong with this picture? One of the most common uses for encryption is e-mail, which should be the fastest thing in the pipeline, not the slowest. Need more evidence there's something wrong with service in Canada? Here's Mark Evans: Wireless Deals in Canada?; Wow! Signs of Competition in Canada; Less Regulation in Canada, Less Competition. See also Boris Mann on prices higher than Mexico. My very small act of defiance was to buy a smart phone that can access wireless LANs instead of tying me to buying all my bandwidth from the phone company. I had to buy a phone from Europe in order to pull that off, because the same phone distributed in North America has the wireless capability removed. (See Boris on his Nokia E61.) What's wrong with this picture? I'm having trouble seeing what's right with this picture. We spend more to get less service, and valuable functions...

Krista B. Blogs the Junos


I met Krista Baliko at a podcasters' meetup last year, (even though neither of us is a podcaster), so I like to watch her progress working at the CBC Mother Corp. Good to see she's got a blog this week, as she posts about the goings-on in Saskatoon around the JUNO awards. The awards show time has been yo-yo-ing around, while organizers battled with CTV to avoid having the awards broadcast hours past prime time in Atlantic Canada. Sanity has been restored, and the show will start two hours early this Sunday. Check out Krista's Juno Blog, for some behind the scenes action. I haven't seen any shocking celebrity news there yet. No Nelly Furtado hissy fits about the temperature of her bath. No Jian Ghomeshi throwing a phone at a bellboy. C'mon, Krista, there's dirt out there to be found, you're just not looking hard enough! I used to work with Krista's mom. (Hi Joan!) Also, I'm finally able to provide a bit of link love to my spouse, who is coordinating a JUNO section of the Saskatchewan CBC website. Don't forget to pick up some milk on your way down from Saskatoon, honey. I was just on the site tonight being a one-person focus group, and thought the photo galleries are the best items so far. Go CBC. Tags: saskatoon, juno awards, krista baliko, jian ghomeshi, nelly furtado, blogs

Social Media - Where to set up shop?


Ed Lee looks at the three options for reaching an audience with social media. Building your own hub of activity has its risks. The Web wasteland is strewn with ghost towns that thought they would become the next great portal. I like Ed's idea of experimenting before making a final decision about where you want your content to be, and how people will find it and interact with your organization. Says Ed: clipped from Should you join a community or start your own? As someone advising clients on how to market using the Web and social media, it’s the ultimate existential question. 1. Joining the Community 2. Grow your own 3. The alternative While the ultimate goal is to make your organization a trusted source of information, a leader in the field and the hub of a community of passionate users, the first step is a small one. Find out where the conversations and chatter around your brand are and get involved. Interact with your customers and stakeholders. Have a real conversation with them. Once you’re part of the community you can start to Instigate. Lead those conversations, become the reason for the buzz and the source of the chatter. The BMBY recommendations (for) building a community Monitor. Assess. Interact. Lead Look>Listen>Learn>Lead Get: Informed; Immersed; Interactive; Involved; Instigating (previously i-ddicted)

Sports Writers Tell it Like it Is


Sports writers are sometimes underestimated. How hard can it be to write up a game? David Shoalts found a good way to measure the impact of the three-day suspension of New Jersey Devils' Cam Janssen. Calling it a 12 minute, 36 second suspension, Shoalts multiplies the player's average ice time per game, multiplies it by three games, and voila. You can fill a book and still not make a strong, clear point like that. Stu Cowan of the Montreal Gazette wrote a similarly strong column recently. He pointed out that Ryan Smith, the tearful Edmonton Oiler who found himself traded at the last minute, had turned down a $27 million offer, because it was short of the $27.5 million he was asking for. Smyth tried to make the trade look like a betrayal of his status as a home-town hero. If he was that worried about it, Cowan writes, he could have taken the deal. Both writers cut through the crap and make their points economically. We should all do as well. Tags: sports, new jersey devils, montreal gazette, edmonton oilers, david shoalts, stu cowan

Gary Goldhammer on New Comms Forum


I didn't get to the New Communications Forum, but at least I can experience it vicariously and ironically, via Gary Goldhammer: clipped from I got to sit on a Viral Marketing panel with the guy who directed Clerks and Chasing Amy (oh wait, sorry, that was Kevin Smith, not Chris Heuer) I learned how to pronounce Kami Watson Huyse’s name. It’s “Wat-Son.” So simple! Phil Gomes wore a tie. More significantly, it wasn’t a clip-on. There were lots of monologues about the importance of conversations. Being “engaged” is also very important. Unfortunately I’m already married, which interestingly also kills conversations (at least the kinds of conversations I can win.)

I've Been Busy Blogging, but not Here


Sorry to regular readers for my long absence. I've been getting into the groove of daily postings for b5 media on Common Sense PR, and have been neglecting my duty to inform and entertain you. For a quick view of what I've been up to on the other blog, check out the Top 10 Posts for the past three months. I've missed my more relaxed writing on this blog, and am hoping to post here several times a week for the foreseeable future. Anyone who wants a refund of the subscription fees, please send me an e-mail to arrange payment. Tags: blogging, b5media, common sense pr, top10

Microsoft Lets Me Cancel XBox Live Subscription - Why Is that News?


Back when the XBox first came out, we bought one for Christmas, and I signed up for an XBox Live account soon after. It was for my kid, so I really wasn't paying much attention when I listed birthday, and all the other personal information. What a pain. After that, every time I tried to edit the account, it would insist that I go through and confirm about 20 details in my account, including the credit card number I used. Well, I don't know which credit card I used, and I can't find the bills for that month. Pardon me while I wait a year to see which credit card the renewal shows up on... So when I tried to cancel the account, I anticipated an unpleasant experience. Once again, the online service wouldn't authorize me as the account holder unless I answered every detail precisely correct (I set the account up four years ago). If you get something wrong, it doesn't let you know which of the details is wrong. Augh! So I call the toll-free number, talk to the computer for a while, answering various questions, and finally I get through to a person. A person who wants to assure me how easy it is to transfer the account to an XBox 360 (that's assuming I could get it to believe I'm the account holder). I'm informed the account already automatically renewed itself, so I'm the proud owner of another year of Xbox Live! I explain I don't want to transfer the account, I want to cancel. I have to explain that a couple of times, but finally the guy on the other end agrees to cancel the account. And, surprise, he was able to get me a refund, that will be credited to my card. Which is great, because it means I don't have to write a whiney post about how ripped off I feel. It's all good for Microsoft. Son Number One already received a subscription card for a year of Xbox Live on the Xbox...

Picktonmania: Remembering the People Who Died and their Families


It's been a relief in the past couple of weeks to see media coverage shift briefly to stories about the women who went missing over the years in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. For years, with some notable exceptions, the focus has been on the man accused of killing 26 women. Most of the stories show that the families lost their daughter/sister/mother to drug addiction long before they disappeared. But I didn't notice that making the loss any easier to handle for the people left behind. It was a wrenching fight to get the police to pay attention to the large number of missing women. Then, once there was a suspect, the pig farmer became the centre of attention. Even when a story was about a victim, the headline generally referred to the accused murderer. The coverage to come will include a lot of details about body parts and the depressing lifestyle of the "drug addicted prostitute". I hope the journalists covering the case remember to talk about the victims as real people, with real families and friends. Tags: picton, vancouver, murder, pig farm, victims, crime

With a Wink and a Nod to Spinal Tap...


Brown Communications got a grudging pat on the back from AdRants' Steve Hall for their latest self-promotion on their storefront billboard. This one features an amplifier volume switch that goes up to 11. Brings back memories of Spinal Tap, the great mockumentary that showed Christopher Guest how it's done. In Spinal Tap, the heavy metal rocker enthuses about the fact that after fudging the number on his amplifier, it now goes "one louder" than the others. Nice to see the other Saskatchewan marketing/digital/PR blogger get some attention. Nice one, Derek. Tags: saskatchewan, outdoor, promotion, advertising, browncommunications, regina Previous post: Self-promotion: Make a Statement

My Winter Ordeal (10 Feet from the House)


Twenty minutes ago I was stumbling around in the snow, ice crystals coating my glasses, my fingers getting colder and colder inside my leather gloves. The car battery was dead, and I was trying to convince our mini-van to move another four feet, so I could stretch the jumper cables through the hedge from the van idling in the neighbour's driveway. By getting both vehicles as far into the snowbanks as possible, we finally were able to stretch the cables far enough to get the engine started. I'm sitting inside, nice and warm now, but for a few minutes I was reminded what's it's like to be out in the bitter cold, fighting with a piece of equipment, or trying to coax a vehicle out of the snow. There's a point where you feel so damn cold and exhausted, you start to work out a survival strategy for getting to cover and staying there until someone can get you. I was a long way from that point, plus I had a cell phone in my pocket and was 15 feet from the front door of the house. But as I was blindly shuffling in the snowbank trying to get my hands to grasp the jumper cables correctly, I had a flashback to times I've been off the beaten path in bitterly cold conditions. You get this intense focus on the task at hand, to keep your mind from running scenarios of sliding the car into the ditch, or missing the footpath you need to take back to safety. When I worked as a reporter in Whitehorse, CBC Radio's Peter Carr told me about the time he was headed across a small Yukon lake on showshoes. The ice started to open up behind him. His frantic, exaggerated movements helped keep him moving forward in the snow, ice and water enough to get to safety. But he was one misstep away from becoming an item in the news the next day. Every winter a few people get stuck in the snow on...

The Tech Toy Revealed


Dave Traynor wants to know what the technology present is, mentioned in my last three posts. For Christmas this year, I got a Nokia E61 smart phone, but as I alluded in the last three blog posts, the phone is somewhere between Toronto and here. ETA is today, the first business day since the package was last sighted in Ontario. I'm pretty pumped about this, partly because I'm into technology gadgets, and partly because I'm hoping it will reduce the amount of time I spend in front of a computer trying to recreate the ideas I had earlier in the day or week. Kelley and I have been experimenting with chosen presents lately. We still get each other surprises, but often big purchases that are a bit of a luxury get wrapped into Christmas, birthday or anniversary. Does knowing what's coming spoil the fun? Not really, because it's precisely the thing I wanted. There's still plenty of room for surprise and delight in our lives. Now, to get writing our annual Christmas e-mail, that often goes out in January... Previous posts: Christmas Present Takes a Genealogical Tour; If a Present Is Still in Truck, It's not Really Present, Is It?, Christmas Shipping Saga: The Maps

Christmas Present Shipping Saga: The Maps


Chapter 3: Eric Explores an Alternate Universe, Where You Move Away from Something in Order to Get Closer to it I'm still hung up on the item being shipped from Bloomington Illinois that is struggling to find me. I had no idea where this particular Bloomington was, so I consulted Google Maps. Here's how Google thinks my package should have travelled: In this universe, Chicago or Minneapolis would be the hub for the courier company, and the parcel would go north to Winnipeg. Maybe in the days when trains were the dominant form of transportation this would make sense, but we all know that Toronto is the centre of Canada, and packages going to Canada are much more likely to be destined for a thin strip of land adjacent to the U.S. border somewhere between London and Montreal. So the courier company's view of the trip looks like this: In this universe, items headed for Canada get sorted at a few central hubs and are distributed from there. As a customer, this neither surprises me nor particularly disappoints me. If this thing absolutely had to be here for Christmas, I would have paid the 100% markup on shipping. Previous posts: Christmas Present Takes a Genealogical Tour; If a Present Is Still in Truck, It's not Really Present, Is It?

Christmas Present Takes a Genealogical Tour


The bad news - the present that was supposed to be here for Christmas was shipped to the greater Toronto area, where it's been languishing for two days. The good news - it's very close to my great-grandmother's birthplace of Stouffville, Ontario. Minnie March grew up in the Whitchurch-Stouffville area, and ended up moving to Saskatchewan with her new husband David Curtis. They ran a dry goods store in Wolseley, then moved to Findlater, southeast of Regina, where he was badly injured while working in a grain elevator. They ended up living at 2039 Retallack Street in Regina, about seven blocks from our house. If the package takes a short detour on the way to Regina (and why not, it's already gone far enough from here), it can swing by where the old family farm was. The map on the right shows a red star where my package was at 3:37 this morning. Merry Christmas to the March family relations in and from Stouffville. I've never visited, but I'm not dead yet, so you never know. The package will eventually go through Wolseley, which was a little different when Elsie was born there in 1903. For one thing, it was still part of the Northwest Territories then. Saskatchewan didn't become a province for another two years. Here's a shot of the grain elevators in early Wolseley. My grandparents briefly ran their store in a triangular brick building that's now a credit union branch. My mom sometimes talks about her aunt Susan, who married into the Banbury family in Wolseley. Susan's husband Robert was related to Edwin Banbury, a co-founder of Beaver Lumber. I've got a few March family photos from the turn of the last century on Flickr. Thanks to the University of Saskatchewan archives for the photo.

If a Present Is Still in a Truck, It's not Really Present, Is It?


Every year there's something in transit for Christmas. This year it's a big ticket electronics item, ordered from a "Canadian" website. The package shipped December 19, and thanks to online tracking, I'm able to watch it wend its way east. Should I mention to UPS that I live in Western Canada? The package originated in Illinois, which is not in Canada. This would have been good information to know before I ordered. Does this mean I'll get dinged for import duties? Fortunately, Illinois is only a few states and an international border away from Saskatchewan. Watching UPS track my package into Michigan and then Ontario doesn't fill me with confidence. It's heading east! The last tracking point was Windsor. That's a good sign, I think. At first it looked like it would end up in Toronto for sortation, but if it was headed for Toronto it would have got there long ago. I guess UPS popped it on a truck heading to western Canada. Either that, or it's still sitting in customs. Life was easier when you couldn't track the progress. You just had to pray to the postal gods. If I knew it had to cross borders to get here I would have paid extra for faster shipping. Just because there's a Canadian flag on the web page, doesn't mean the company has its warehouses in the country. I'm pretty sure UPS doesn't deliver on weekends in Regina, so if it's not here by Friday afternoon, I doubt we'll get it for Christmas. One of the presents in the house is going to be represented by a print-out from an online catalogue. If you see a UPS truck heading west on the Trans Canada Highway, let me know!

Holiday Tableaux - Mix and Match


Via Ed Lee's blog, I came across Choose Your Own Holiday Adventure, set up by iStudio. This is a nice little self-promotion tool for the web design firm. I chose to NOT include music, so it's safe for work (unless you click on the video game - then all bets are off). Based on your input, the Playmobil figures are arrayed in a tableau, so don't complain if it looks really weird. (Playmobil figures always look a bit sinister, with their bland, Stepford normalness. I think the dog did it in the study with a pipe wrench.) For a look at a traditional Eggertson Christmas, check out my own holiday adventure by clicking the banner ad below (nobody will try to sell you anything). I think Ed's North Korea Christmas has a more authentic feel... And to everyone at iStudio, have a great holiday, wherever you are, and whatever play figures you choose to play with!

Protection for all those Christmas Gadget Gifts


Whenever I lose something, I kick myself for not doing a better job of labelling it, so the finder can return it, if they're so inclined. So an offer by Trackitback to sell me five of their lost-and-found return stickers for a total of $20 was too good to resist. (No one in the family needs to know in advance which of their presents will have a free return sticker on it.) The sticker I put on my digital camera last year doesn't guarantee it will get returned, but it makes it easier for someone to be a good samaritan if they find the camera. I also added a cash reward, so if someone does return the camera, they'll get about 10% of the value of the camera as thanks. And here's the best part. Trackitback has a dirt cheap shipping price for people who aren't in a hurry to get their stickers. Plus, they billed my credit card in Canadian dollars, saving me the currency conversion fee I get charged when I pay in US dollars. A no-brainer for a Canadian company to let its customers pay in their own currency? You'd think so, but there are plenty of companies that don't give you the option. I have no idea when the Stocking Stuffer Special ends, but there's a $30 5-pack also available. Even at the regular $10 per sticker price, Trackitbacks are worth it, if they save you replacing even one electronic gadget in your arsenal. And yes, I do believe there a lot of people out there who would return a lost camera or laptop if they found it. Just check out the overflowing lost and found boxes in stores, schools and other public places if you don't believe me. Trackitback is franchised in most English speaking countries, plus Portugal and Mexico. Items found in any country in the world will be returned, if the finder contacts Trackitback.