#FFWD 2016: Don’t let the change leave you behind

This year Fast Forward Advertising Week Canada takes place January 25 through the 29th. To kickstart 2016 with a new perspective The Institute of Communication Agencies (ICA) introduces a new theme for the week: Don’t let the change leave you behind. In addition to annual panels such as most influential brands and upcoming trends the conference brings together experts on the topics of data intelligence, biometrics, consumption of content, visual text analysis and more. 

The full schedule can be found here but the following panels seem particularly interesting:

Shaw Media Session: Next Generation Television – The Power of TV Combined with the Intelligence of Data

Speakers: Greg McLelland, Senior VP, Sales, Shaw Media and Mark Daprato, Chief Marketing Officer, shop.ca

Date: January 26, 11am Cinema 2

Applied Arts Session: Diary of a Creative Director: An exploration of the road to greatness

Speakers: Amir Kassaei, Chief Creative Officer DDB Worldwide, New York and Heidi Ehlers, Founder, Heidi Consults

Date: January 26, 12:30pm Cinema 2

Facebook Session: Understanding people in the new world of communication

Speaker: Josh Bloom, Director of Retail Marketing Solutions, Facebook Canada

Date: January 27, 2:30pm Cinema 2

Addictive Mobility Session: Tech Enabled Creative for Mobile

Speaker: Naveed Ahmad, CEO, Addictive Mobility

Date: January 28, 1:30pm Cinema 4

Kijiji Speaker Series: Canadian Advertising: Do or Die?

Speaker: Scott Goodson, CEO and Founder, Strawberryfrog, New York

Date: January 28, 4pm Cinema 2

Mintel Session: Consumer Trends That Will Shape 2016 and Beyond

Speaker: Stacy Glasgow, Consumer Trends Consultant, Mintel

Date: January 29, 11am Cinema 4

And off course for all of the students out there: Next Generation day on Wednesday 8am-11:30am

Stay in touch on social media: Twitter @adweekcdn @icacanada #FFWD2016 and Facebook. Register here.

The new campaign was created by Publicis Toronto is meant to emphasize the notion of transformation and how the industry is in a state of radical change.

AWSC: The hardships of PR are the hardships of the media: how to increase your chances of getting a response

Originally published on theAWSC.com. 


Getting exposure in this day and age isn’t an easy thing. With shortened attention spans and increasingly crowded news feeds, getting your brand (whatever it might be) noticed is a battle. There are many ways in which one could get exposure – from social media to spray painting your brand logo on crosswalks – but the one industry that will probably never go out of style is Public Relations. PR people are the folks that get your name into magazines and your representatives on TV screens, and their job, despite popular beliefs of glamour, is not easy.

I am not a PR specialist, so I’m not here to tell you how to do it right, but as someone on the receiving end of those efforts I think I can speak on behalf of the media industry when it comes to the consistency of mistakes people make when sending their message out there in the world. Over the years I’ve also noticed that many people do their own outreach or dash into the profession without training and not having being properly mentored. You can learn from books, from other people, from experience, and from your own mistakes. Busy people on the receiving end will not, however, send you a feedback card to learn from, they will delete and unsubscribe.

Here’s a shortlist of common mistakes that will send your precious press release straight into the trash bin.

Wrong contact person: in the spirit of saving time, many PR companies purchase lists and follow them for several years in a row. I strongly recommend going through that list at least once a year – manually. Yes, I know it’s very time consuming, but when you keep emailing your news to a person who hasn’t been with the publication for 3 years, we on our end get a little frustrated and it is a waste of your time.

Spell check the names: honestly this isn’t hard. The first thing you need to do is make sure you spell the person’s name correctly. Mistakes and typos happen but they can be avoided by a triple check and a quick Google search.

Wrong publication type: building on the previous point, and to better your own results, the list cleanse should also make sure that all publications on your lists are relevant to your product. It is good to be sure that your invitation for a tomato sauce tasting isn’t going to a fly-fishing magazine. It is also very unprofessional to open an email with “I know you are an expert on [fill in your product]” when that publication has nothing to do with that category.

Massive photos: I know it is tempting to let your large, beautiful photo say a thousand words so fine, go for it, do it, just not as an opening sentiment. If all people see when opening an email is an ambiguous photo past which they need to scroll to see the headline you might not get them very far. Always lead in with a convincing headline: unless you are inviting people to an art show or celebrity gossip forum this is very likely not the place or time to let the image say it all.

Links: we like links, not too many, just the relevant ones. Links to the product, to the event, to the song or movie trailer you are sharing. Not seeing a single link in the email press release is somewhat suspicious.

Name-dropping: when the subject line of your email has something about Drake in it and nothing inside the email is about Drake, you’ve lied. If you say Oprah would have loved this product but she hasn’t even seen it, you’ve lied. When you are saying this is the best tomato sauce we will ever try and the world hasn’t come to that conclusion because no one has even tried it yet, you’ve lied. Stop lying.

Too many emails: in this case I don’t mean too frequently, I mean too many copies of the same email. Please ensure your mailing list does not allow for double entries and that people you are sending these multiple copies to are not all the same person. Seeing four copies of your press release will only clutter and frustrate the receiver’s inbox.

Too many follow-ups: in reality it is highly likely your first email was unnoticed, especially if you do not have an established relationship with the publication – so it’s ok to send a follow up. Do not, however, send a follow up on the follow up on the follow up – writing that it is a follow up. If your email looks like a stepladder of your own emails you are doing something wrong. Be original with your follow up; do not just simply resend the exact same thing without a more personal note.

Just as all PR advice columns state you have to be short, sweet and to the point. No one has time to look for a jewel in your haystack of words since your one email is very likely one of three hundred. Be respectful, considerate and concise.

AWSC: Internet-bad vs Internet-good: Mitch Joel and Andrew Keen Debate the Influence of the Internet

There are a lot of topics that spark debates: religion, politics, Mac vs PC, Nikon vs Canon, Patriots vs Seahawks, and the list goes on. The good thing about debates is that they spark a healthy conversation. The bad things about debates is that sometimes you just have to agree to disagree.

Some debates are vanilla, some debates appear to be chocolate and end up being chocolate chunks with a drizzle. Earlier this week I got to witness a debate that ended up being the later: Is the Internet the Answer? Debating its Future Influence on Marketing and our Lives at FFW Advertising Week Canada.

Andrew Keen is an entrepreneur who recently released a book The Internet Is Not The Answer, in which he argues that the Internet contributes to inequality, unemployment, and surveillance. Mitch Joel, on the other hand, is a man behind the Six Pixels of Separation and CTRL ALT Delete, living and breathing digital revolution. Needless to say looking at the credentials of the panelists it was clear the debate was going to heat up.

Keen approaches the Internet the same way people looked at the Industrialization referring to the days when we stood in line to pick up a newspaper as the old-days. As soon as he made his opening statement it became clear I was going to stay on Joel’s court regardless of my education background being in the good-old-communications.

After stating that the Internet, and digitalization as a whole, are the cause of unemployment Keen referred to the jobs created by the Internet as the Gig Economy which takes jobs away from the working class. Quite frankly I believe that those dated definitions of social structure are no longer applicable to how we exist today. People of the ‘working class’ often exceed the incomes of white collar jobs and we are not a caste society. North America has gone through a rough recession and the Internet has allowed for people to not only expand their business using the World Wide Web but create their own jobs and run business they would not have been able to otherwise.

The web has an ability to increase visibility, grow customer base, and reach overseas markets. Without web presence a business is not a business and these days sometimes all you need to be a business is a website. Owning a retail store is an expense that runs many people into the ground but running a store on-line can be done by a single person out of a living room and many people do it quite successfully.

In the old days without the Internet bands could not be bands if they were unsigned. Today, even in this saturated music market, bands can become popular without any label support by getting their music out there for people to hear. You no longer absolutely need a music label to survive, talent and hard work can actually get you fame. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis got signed after they released The Heist and while they do charge for their music some bands (like Odesza) choose to giveaway their music for free making bank on tours, merchandise, and the ever-increasing demand for vinyl.

Admittedly the journalism industry was the most impacted by the Internet but it also allowed for people who could not get their content through to print publications become a person of interest for those same publications by growing a readership through their personal blogs (Mitch Joel being one of them). It allowed stay-at-home moms, retirees and people with weird hobbies to find ways to make money, supplement their income and survive with grace by doing what they enjoy. Yes it comes at the cost of advertising, but what business doesn’t need advertising to survive?

To touch on Keen’s last point, surveillance, I would like to bring your attention back to the good-old-days of Michel Foucault and Jeremy Bentham (the Panopticon model) – surveillance has always existed and it will always exist with or without our consent. There are probably at least a dozen cameras you pass on your way to work, do you know where that footage lives?

The Internet offers us a choice to decline the situations in which we are going to be surveyed at the cost of not using the services but we chose to agree at the cost of knowing that our information will be used (at least) for targeted advertising.

Internet is progress. It was that way when it first became a term and it will continue to be so simply because we cannot control it as a single enterprise. Although the web is governed in many ways at the end of the day it is a digital world created and operated by people.

The digital revolution is what we can do with the tools the Internet has to offer and while I agree that the fruits of such technology are not beneficial in all parts of the world (and not even in all parts of North America) the modern society we live in here now has been benefiting from the benefits of the Internet in ways no one had expected even when the built the first Personal Computer.


Originally published on Advertising Week Social Club here.

#FFWD2015: Five key takeaways from Twitter Canada session

On Wednesday FFWD Advertising Week hosted Twitter Canada for an insightful session about the #PowerOfAtweet. The panel consisted of Rita Ferrari, Director, Brand and Product Marketing at shomi, Kristi Karen, Director of Media, Consumer Engagement and Agency Partnerships at Mondelēz (Oreo), and Derek Hutchison, Head, Enterprise Social Media at RBC. The conversation, moderated by Jamie Michaels from Twitter Canada, covered success which these three very different brands were able to achieve on Twitter.

If you live in Toronto over the last month or so you have more than likely come across shomi billboards, TV or digital ads all throughout your daily routine. Ferrari’s team has been aggressively promoting shomi using a rich variety of channels including Twitter using some of the most innovative solutions the platform is able to offer. Their results of close collaboration with Twitter were a 2.3 increase in site visitations.

Kristi Karen lead the Oreo team during their collaboration with Sochi Olympics, and we all know how successful that campaign was. Their promoted tweets resulted in 14% to 24%  engagement increase. And while a bank might not seem like a Twitter account you’d want to follow RBC was able to achieve a 200% increase in positive sentiment by supporting team Canada during the same Olympics.

Throughout the discussion 5 key takeaways came up:

1. Take adventure of Twitter’s Account Associates: they are there to help you achieve better results not only by making suggestions about targeting but by working on your goals towards more innovative solutions.

2. Be creative with promoted tweets and Twitter cards. The targeting possibilities are fantastic and CTAs have a lot of potential to increase engagement. For example shomi used Twitter cards to encourage people to add their favorite shows to calendar.

3. During high-times or prolonged public events that require daily responses having a war-room will help the best ideas and solution rise to the top. Oreo had one during the Sochi Olympics and the creative outcome was incredibly attention grabbing.

4. Twitter is a great place for reputation management, software cannot possibly do that job as well as a real person. Having a team handling incoming mentions is worth the investment, especially if you’re a company that has a potential for getting a lot of questions, concerns or complaints, the labour is a worthy investment.

5. Whatever your brand challenge is Twitter alone will not solve that issue. Traditional media support is still as essential as it was a decade ago.


Julia Pott for Oreo from Hornet on Vimeo.