Saturday, November 14, 2009

Government Relations Presentation at CPRS Vancouver event - Summary

Government Relations (aka Lobbying)

I attended a very fascinating CPRS (Canadian Public Relations Society) Vancouver’s lunch session this week. The topic was communicating with government aka lobbying. With lobbying having so many negative associations, the presenters did a good job dispelling misperceptions and positioning lobbying as an important mechanism of the public interacting with government.

Karen Shepherd, Commissioner of Lobbying, spoke first about the federal legislation and interpretations of lobbying, with the definition (long one – see below), types of lobbyists (consultant, in-house corporations, in-house organizations/non-profit) and designated public office holders.

Federal definiatoin of Lobbying: Lobbying is communicating with a public office holder, for payment in respect of:
• The development of any legislative proposal,
• Introduction, defeat or amendment of any Bill or resolution,
• Development or amendment of any policy or program,
• Awarding of any grant, contribution or other financial benefit,
• Awarding of any contract,
• Arranging a meeting between a public office holder and any other person.

Registration can now be done online and consultant lobbyists have 10 days from undertaking (agreeing) to carry out a lobbying activity while in-house lobbyists have two months. It was a bit confusing when Karen talked about monthly disclosures and when it is required. Many grey areas for interpretation for sure!

Mary Elizabeth Carlson, Executive Director, Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists, spoke about lobbying in BC and started with a slide that said “Lobbying is not a crime”. The provincial definition of lobbying is essentially “communicating with public office holder in an attempt to influence” (different and shorter than the federal definition). Right now there is a Bill before the house to pass a new Lobbying Act which should have positive changes in BC. The Ken Dobell incident seems to have prompted many of the proposed changes. It will be interesting to see what the outcome is. Another positive is that they are working on a new registration system that is expected to be live in April 2010. Here’s a link to the current registration system which by the way requires you to pay $150 per registration (that is going away with the new system)

Here’s a quote from a Vancouver Sun article about the negative associations with lobbying:

“It's a profession that often dares not speak its name. Or, at least, does so reluctantly. Just ask the embattled Ken Dobell, who told reporters recently that he was reluctant to register as a lobbyist because the job description has a connotation "that none of us particularly like."

There was a comment by an audience member “then many charities in this country are lobbying and not declaring it”. The response by Karen Shepherd is that her mandate is to educate across the country about lobbying and more non-profits are registering as lobbyists.

Perhaps what needs to happen is that we should get rid of the word lobbying and replace with government relations to help build up credibility and overcome the long-tail negative perceptions associated with lobbying?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Communication and Collaborative Change / Upcoming Event

From acquisitions, to restructurings, management transitions, and diversifications, organizations continually encounter changes. How the organization communicates changes directly affects recruitment, retention and engagement.

Typical phases of organizational change:
1. Create awareness and sense of urgency.
2. Engage the culture.
3. Transform the culture.
4. Monitor impact and results.
5. Respond to feedback.
6. Sustain the change and commitment.

To set your communications strategy around the change, ask these questions:
• What are the business objectives with the change?
• How can communications help?
- Generate awareness?
- Educate and engage?
- Drive behavioural change?
- Mobilize commitment?
• What do we need to communicate to achieve our objectives?
• Who is the audience?
- What do they know/understand?
- What motivates them?
- What other changes have they been involved with and when?
• What is the best order to communicate with each audience?
• What communication tools/channels will be most effective and when?
- Whether an organization is small or large, private or public, the timing of the communication is extremely important and even more so now with social media and citizen journalism.

Change is a process, not an event and it is an emotional experience for those involved and people adjust to change at different rates. Therefore, it is important to have messages that help employees embrace the change. Following a framework helps in crafting messages around the change. Once you have the overall main messages then tailor for each audience to achieve a higher level of acceptance and engagement.

Change message framework:
• Provide background information about the change with reasons why and what the big picture vision is during and on the other side of the change.
• Present employee-specific information about the change including emotional reactions.
• Allow employees to provide input with questions, concerns or ideas about the change.
• Let employees know what is expected of them and what resources are available for support.
• Summarize and express appreciation in making the change work.

To learn more, attend the session “Communication for Collaborative Change” at the symposium “The Flexible Organization: Organizational Design & Change” October 15 in Burnaby or October 20 in Victoria. In the Communication session, you’ll learn how to apply a framework to the communications process. All participants will have the opportunity to participate in group exercises and discussions as well as be given a workbook with templates using best practices from IABC, industry research and case studies.

For more information bout the symposium, go to

Monday, September 7, 2009

How to monitor online conversations

To build your online community, monitor blogs and become part of the conversation. 

How do you monitor blogs?

MarketingProfs has a useful "how-to guide" for blog marketing and in it has listed tools for monitoring blogs. 

My favourite one is BlogPulse, what do you recommend?

Monday, August 31, 2009

Email Marketing Tips

I'm currently working on email marketing campaigns using Vertical Response, integrated with Salesforce, and found that it is important to remember the basics including what your purpose is for the email. From the book "Email Marketing An Hour a Day" they talk about the 5 types of emails:

1. Awareness
2. Consideration
3. Conversion
4. Product Usage
5. Retention and Loyalty


Awareness -- purpose is to ID interest -- use ad type placement in email

Consideration -- purpose is to accelerate interest and qualify -- use way to capture opt-in

Conversion -- to move from marketing to sales funnel after getting a buying signal -- use click-to-call or request demo

Product Usage -- purpose is to drive engagement with brand -- use cross and up-sell offers

Retention and Loyalty-- to deepen relationship -- use value added info (tips, e-newsletters)



Remember when your approach to email is different depending upon your brand awareness.

70% of business emails are opened and read within 3 hours of receipt.


Segment as much as possible and track stats (received, opened, clicked, conversion, bounced, unsubscribe).

HTML or text? Depends on your audience and what they expect. Youtube generation wants design and humour; boomers want the facts. Research your audience before you email ... buy, source free online, or survey.

And don't forget to comply with CAN-SPAM laws 

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Opportunistic trend marketing

I'm a big fan of opportunistic marketing.

I noticed one campaign this week while watching a TV ad at the gym. Nestle's Juicy Juice Immunity. It is using the H1N1 scare and back-to-school time to boost awareness and sales. Since kids are exposed to so many germs this juice promotes how the extra vitamin c and zinc will help boost the immune system. I'm sure many Mom's are going to go for this as who wants their kids to be sick let alone get H1N1. Brilliant new product and marketing IMHO !!!


Friday, August 7, 2009

5 marketing communication tips

1. CRM system like are fantastic systems for tracking leads, prospects, sales and all related communications through the funnel.
2. Email marketing programs like Vertical Response or Mail Chimp are easy to use and have templates and analytics to view %open, bounced and unsubscribe rates.
3. docmetrics provides tracking PDF tool to get stats to help with lead generation.
4. White papers are great “call to action” in direct marketing campaigns – whether email or mail. To share content there is Creative Common.
5. Leadlander gives you information about who is accessing your website.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Social media monitoring

There are many free social monitoring tools out there and here is a list of a few I’ve come across thanks to my colleague Lucian Savluc (

Social mention similar to Google Alerts but for social media.
Boardreader to monitor forums and blogs.
Trendr allows you to track and report and has cool graphs.
Google trends is interesting to see topic and conversation trends.
Backtype allows you to track your comments on sites.

And here is a link to a posting about other free social monitoring resources

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Learnings from National PR Conference

I attended this week PR National Conference here in Vancouver, BC at the Westin Bayshore hotel. I attended many sessions and helped organize the 80 fabulous volunteers.Highlights for me were ...

Brian Solis talking about social media and the new world of PR.

Social Media is bigger than simply integrating a Blogger Relations branch to your PR strategy. It’s an opportunity to engage directly customers and peers who either purchase or recommend the decisions of others. ... The new world of influence demands customer empathy, evangelism, passion, expertise, and knowledge – everything else is disposable and takes away from your focus and potential.”

Maple Leaf Food’s VP Communications Jeanette Jones had a good presentation about their listeria crisis last year. I wonder if they would have had such a positive rebound in customer purchases and reputation if they didn’t have such a great CEO spokesperson.

Lessons learned:

  • Accept responsibility. Have CEO face of company.
  • Lead with facts and be open.
  • Have communication vehicles in place such as CEO weekly note, employee conference calls, external blogs (this one decreases reliance on media to disseminate info)
  • Use social media such as YouTube as well as TV
  • Use research to improve communications such as consumer polling
  • Don’t over think communications and act immediately
  • Ensure bilingual capabilities
  • Leverage external experts and have relationships built now
  • Maintain communication post crisis – consumers don’t want to forget and nor should the company

Three members from PR Global Alliance, Dan Tisch (Cdn), Paul Mylrea (UK) and John Paluszek (US) talked about the future of PR.

Dan’s points were that PR professionals need to:

  • elevate the profession raising standards, sharing knowledge
  • dig deeper in the what, why, how of mass culture and
  • build business literacy
  • co-create messages and content with citizens now; interact 2-way

Dan said in another panel that Canada on the global stage has reputation of the ability to listen and adapt and not do the one campaign worldwide approach (like the US has a reputation to do).

5 step plan for Social media with Maggie Fox. Her presentation style is very conversational and she has a great sense of humour. I would have liked to see more case studies but she did provide some good information about social media.

  1. Listen – research the online communities and find out what they are talking about
  2. Content – what content gets shared in the community and what doesn’t
  3. Technology – what are they using, where are they, monitor conversations
  4. Metrics – unique monthly visits to website, etc.
  5. Managing risks – create a risk management plan and assign a likelihood ranking

And lastly make sure you share results formally and informally with internal teams. Common misconception that social media is free. It is not free when you consider the time needed to make it work.

Friday, May 8, 2009

the BIG idea speeches

Along with 300+ other marketers, I attended BCAMA Vision Conference this week in Vancouver, BC. The theme was to discover your next big idea. Lots of inspiration! Highlights for me were speeches by Jim Carroll, Richard Bartrem, VP West Jet and Brian Scudamore, CEO 1-800-Got-Junk.

Futurist Jim Carroll started his presentation with a cool text/sms poll (poll everwhere) asking the audience when they think the economic recovery will happen. No surprise the majority said 1-2 years. He’s a great speaker and talked about innovation and the necessity for a relentless focus on growth and continuous improvement. Here’s a quote from his website:

"Forget about the concept of innovation as simply involving the design of cool new products. In the high-velocity economy, where faster is the new fast, it's your ability to adapt, change, and evolve, through a constant flood of new ideas, that will define your potential for success." (From the opening chapter of Jim's newest book, Ready, Set, Done: How to Innovate When Faster is the New Fast)

Richard Bartrem, VP Culture and Communications WestJet, talked about the culture of care and how important using the right language is. WestJet gets it for sure!

People vs. Employees / Promises vs. Policies / Lead vs. Supervise / Guests vs. Passengers

Entrepreneur, Brian Scudamore, CEO and founder of 1-800-Got-Junk didn’t use PowerPoint (yeah!) and engaged us with his story about the journey through starting a business and growing it to $100M biz. I loved their “can you imagine” wall for employees. Such a great way to get employees engaged in the vision and dream. He recommends reading the book emyth so will have to check it out.

The last session, fireside chat style, with Yahoo Canada’s GM Kerry Munro, Professor & Author Ken Wong, Social Media Group’s CEO Maggie Fox and GREY Canada’s creative VP Clare Meridew, was full of interesting comments about marketing, social media and recessions. Ken Wong said many brilliant things, since he is a Professor, but one comment that stuck out for me is "Companies that continued spending through the recession grew at 200% post recession. Those that cut grew only 19%." [research from 1980-85 recession]

All in all an interesting conference. Thanks BCAMA.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Social Media Tips

Social Media Tips

Marketing communications is about two-way engagement and creating conversations. Have a strategy, framework and commit to an ongoing dialogue.

1. Find out what your brand keywords are. Search on Google and your top 10 “hits” in all areas are your brand. List out your top 10 keywords. Use these keywords in all communication. To use keywords that get searched more often check out Google Adwords. Go to Technorati and find out what is being said about you. Sign up to monitor what others are saying with Google alerts, Tweetlater, Tweetbeep.
2. Get your online domains. Sign up for accounts on Facebook, Myspace, Twitter to avoid others using your name. Even if you don’t know what you are going to do yet get your domains now.
3. Use Tweetdeck on your desktop to manage twitter conversations.
4. With marketing and communications, link to videos and photos to make it more visual and interesting. Use Youtube and Flickr.
5. Have a blog or online forum and build a community.
6. Advertise with Google adwords and Facebook for ROI.
7. Be authentic and real as the online community sees right through spin and instantly you’ve lost credibility. Some people are ok about talking about what they had for lunch and others aren’t. Be your brand and personality and engage with your communities.
8. If you are using news releases, use social media releases and connect with bloggers and online sites. Marktetwire, CNW, PitchEngine (free), PRweb are a few resources for this.
9. Have a blog and online policy for employees. Some companies, like Zappos, encourage employees to have Twitter accounts and others encourage participating in blogs and on Facebook. Employees like customers are your community and your brand. Connect with them. See samples of blog policies.
10. Monitor and measure your objectives. Use free services like Google Analytics, TweetStats. Or if you want to pay use Radian6.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Putting the Public Back in Public Relations

I'm reading this book by Brian Solis and Deirdre Breakenridge. Learning highlights of chapter 1 ...

Reminder that good PR:
- provides credibility with 3rd party endorsements
- builds trust and relationships
- influences and changes opinions
- builds reputations
- creates presense
- builds brand loyalty
- evokes response and action

Tailor your story and spark conversations. Engage with people.

Use social media releases (more on this next week).

Friday, April 24, 2009

Social Media Tips

These are from social media guru Darren Barefoot presentation I attended. See Darren at

Online shifts:

- now 2 way conversation (articles on news are not one way but ask for comments, recommends and submit content)
- now about common interests and sharing, communities
- conversational nature means transparency and authenticity

Who is using social media well:


Crisis examples that didn't go well Motrin Moms and Amazon Fail Both happened over a weekend.

Crisis that did go well, they responded really well in social media world is Dominos.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Every company has stories worth telling

Value of PR article in Business Week

from article ....

I'm a firm believer that every company has stories worth telling. Take some time in the next week or two to generate a list of a dozen or so of your own. Identify which media outlets—from the oldest newspapers to the newest blogs—would be appropriate for each, and why. Then set about developing the contacts and content with their needs in mind, not yours. Focus on what's in it for the audience, and you may get an audience with the people who can make it happen. As with a lot of things in life, the best way to get what you want is to focus on what others want.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Seeking contract positions to help you define your brand personality, build your profile, engage with communities and manage issues.

Book recommendations

Seth Godin's books about marketing: Tribes and Meathball Sundae