The Truth of Your Advertising

I believe that truth, or authenticity if you will, leads to success.  People can tell if you are holding back or trying to be something you think the market wants; rather than who you are.  Whether you lead a team of one or one hundred this theory is sound.  Consumers instinctively know if you are trying to put one over on them; and employees know if something doesn’t feel quite right.

There is a reason for the expression “truth in advertising”.  There is a reason a politician must lead an exemplary personal life while they preach on family values and helping their constituents.  It’s about continuity of image in addition to the fact that consumers must feel empathy to open their wallets.

They have to trust in the organization behind the product as well as the quality of the product.  We don’t want to wear beautiful clothing if it’s constructed in sweat shops.  We don’t want to buy a product that is meant to supply fun if it’s marketed in a serious, over their heads, fashion.  I refer you to RIM’s recent marketing of their tablet.  There was too much tech and not enough imagery about people using them in their lives enjoying the product.

In my experience businesses often get in their own way when creating a marketing plan.  They work backwards from statistics and impersonal SEO analytics and try to make their brand fit.  It can be a bit like trying to fit a circle in to a square.

If you start with your unique qualities, existing gifts, your passion for your trade and a desire to offer the consumer something that will actually improve their quality of life or save them time and money you can’t go wrong.

So be who you are, empathize first, and demonstrate why you care enough to work hard for your customers and employees.

Word of mouth is the truth of your advertising and brand.  Opening your mind can only optimize Your Exponential Potential for success.

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Where was I on 9/11

We are coming up on a global anniversary.

On that day I was at work.  I was working for a defense lobbyist about 1 block from Parliament Hill here in Ottawa Canada.  It was early so we were just booting up, hanging coats and making coffee.  Once the computer was on my MSN went crazy.  Everyone was telling me to turn on the TV.  So we did.

The first two hours:

Gut wrenching realization that the world, and my life, would never be the same.  I had just gotten married in August to an Arabic linguist in the Canadian Air Force.  I called him right away. I knew he would be pretty busy but I wanted him to know I was with him on that day; and that whatever lay ahead I was on his team.  Bless his heart he took my call.

We joined the world in shock and fear as images of Armageddon and World War III rolled through our minds.  We called family and friends.  As we looked outside the streets were filled with people on cell phones as offices were being evacuated.  Security in the downtown core of our nation’s capital was ramping up with all of the embassies located there; and as targets were identified more people were sent home.  The downtown core quickly became strangely unpopulated in the beautiful morning sunshine.  It really was a truly gorgeous fall day in Ottawa.  It seemed incongruous.  Like the eerie yellow sky before a tornado.  Palpable.

No one knew how to react.  You didn’t want to freak right out in the moment because somewhere deep inside we knew this would not be a quick thing.  We knew our psyches would have great demands upon them for some time to come. You somehow knew you had to pace yourself.  All I remember was the adrenalin rush that didn’t leave my life for the next 3 years as my military husband was repeatedly deployed overseas.

I still have a hard time watching the footage.  I have tried diligently to avoid the images.  I have decided to watch the tributes and footage this weekend.  I have decided to briefly go to the grief that was unavailable to me in September 2011, as my husband and I endured and were quickly separated as he left on a ship from Halifax NS.

I will go briefly to the shared grief and be proud that we have, the survivors, come out the other side differently than we went in.

Some minds were opened, some were closed by these events.  Security has taken on a whole new stratosphere.  Social media can help us share our feelings on these events that we cannot deny.

My marriage did not survive the following years after 9/11 but I’m proud of my ex-husband’s contributions to keeping our serving military members safe in combat; and his abilities to keep civilians safe around the world.  I’m proud to have supported his endeavours around the world.  I’m proud to have been eventually posted to San Antonio,Texas where I served the Katrina victims for a year.  I think it was the work I had wanted to do in the wake of 9/11.

The question of where were you on the morning of 9/11 has become this generation’s “Where were you when Kennedy was shot”.  I believe we can take the disillusionment and morph it into energy focused on tolerance, wisdom, communication and a desire for a kinder gentler society.

Feel free to share your stories here or on

Namaste and have a great weekend.


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Socializing Gratitude

It’s September 1st and I couldn’t be more thrilled.  I am a fall baby and do not always enjoy the hot humid days of summer.  I can’t wait for the leaves to turn, my favourite leather boots, the first crisp day when you can smell the snow coming and holiday lights and decorations.

Most of you know that I try very hard to be grateful each day.  I teach/preach this philosophy to friends and clients alike; but some days it can be tough even for perky little me.  This has been a summer of challenges for me both personally and professionally so I thought I would share with you the things for which I am grateful.  Maybe it will help you see your blessings.


  • Low fat ice cream
  • Bbq hot dogs (slightly burnt)
  • Zola’s linguini in white clam sauce
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Home-made plum jam
  • Lime chicken salad at Patty’s Pub (you have to try this one)
  • Coffee with cinnamon
  • Root beer
  • Ice cold milk (still my favourite food)


  • My crappy old car that always goes even when she is tired
  • Memory sticks
  • My office chair (20 years old and still comfy)
  • Shade providing trees
  • My pink flip flops purchased at the dollar store: best pair I’ve ever owned
  • My portable air conditioner.  I work in front of a 20 foot south facing window
  • Brilliant sunrises
  • Social Media


  • My sister Carmen – My heart, my friend
  • Blake Batson – supporter, friend and colleague
  • Martin Goulet – client who me taught things
  • Elaine Lindsey – new friend and collaborator who really gets me
  • Kneale Mann – welcomed me on Twitter and in person
  • Mark Pilato – online conversations work
  • Majeed Mogharreban – open hearted, smart smart smart and kind
  • Hub Ottawa – this group of people inspired me deeply
  • Dalene Gallo – opened her heart and mind in a way that inspired me
  • Jean Serre – a man who dared to believe, even in the face of fear
  • Tim Redpath – without whom I wouldn’t have this momentum
  • The nice lady at the counter at Yaghi’s store on Fifth.  She always has a genuine smile and makes buying milk a warm fuzzy experience.
  • Kurt Walther – a creative musical mind that defies logic wrapped in kindness
  • Chris White and Martha Walsh from CKCU – super supportive fun people
  • Arthur II – an artist that contributes to his community and friends with an open mind.  His work is circumferentially brilliant.
  • Fellow networkers – helped me re-evaluate Ottawa’s social conservatism
  • Fellow entrepreneurs – folks who are all in it together to help each other
  • Jack Layton – a class act
  • Tweeps who keep in touch

What I’ve confirmed:

  • I can do anything to which I set my mind
  • People show you who they are
  • Positive begets positive
  • Ego can be destructive
  • People actually like to help others
  • Good health is to be treasured
  • Smiling is contagious
  • Letting my guard down is often worth the risk
  • We are all flawed and worthy
  • Chanting helps
  • Please and thank you are highly undervalued
  • Motivating and inspiring others is the best work we can do

I hope you will share the things for which you are grateful with your friends, families, tweeps, clients and even strangers.  Post your gratitude here if you feel inclined.  I’d love to hear from you.


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Cell Phone Fatigue: Can we be “Just Friends?

In the olden days, (pre-911) when writing for a defence lobby firm, I fell in love with the Blackberry.  Oh my gosh, it was amazing.  The fact that it had email, a cell phone, texting (BBM) was a miracle of technology at the time.  We synced our devices regularly, waiting with baited breath as data flew back and forth.  After the process we breathed a sigh of relief at the simultaneous update and had peace because we were truly connected.  Nothing would slip between the cracks now.  Full access at the touch of your finger tips.  Mmmm good stuff.

When we were all getting to know the benefits of a PDA it was a select few who had these devices.  It was a juicy select club of elite business people who utilized these devices to do a little bizz.  It was prestigious to have to stay so connected to your office or clients because it meant you were a busy successful mover and shaker on the upswing.  “Um, nice beeper Bob.  Sure you can borrow my phone.”

We worry over data plans, pick out accessories, touch them, tap their apps, hold them in our hands, check our klout, read emails, watch videos, text our chums, tweet our sandwich choices, icon our emotions, load our photos and express ourselves.

But this is now and the romance is over.  It’s late and the suit is a little wrinkled, the cologne has worn off and now we just pray that saying “let’s just be friends” will be a good for business.  We have the Murdoch mess, precarious privacy, crappy crime mobs, sloppy celebrities, and Weiner whiners; all while pretending to pay attention to the humans in front of us.

It’s no longer enough to just tweet what we are up to; we have to “check in” and get square with the four.  We ensure that we have constant wi-fi access in case we need to show people what’s happening where we are (insert funny cat video here); because this is vital information to our followers/friends/links/circles/hangouts/groups/lists……  If you can’t tweet it in the forest, did the tree really fall?

Where does it all lead?  We are wholly unified by our access to information and one another but where does it get us?  We could all probably give ourselves a little social slap in terms of cell phone etiquette in an actual human setting.  Is it on the table while you lunch?  Do you feel special when it vibrates?  Oh Pavlov the power of your theory today is exponential.

We feel purposeful when we enter information into our social media platforms, even diligent because we are expending energy.  We can even fake a call on our cell phones to appear busy, important or to avoid human contact.  But nothing is sweeter than receiving info/alerts/notifications and hearing those ringtones chime out confirming our perceived necessity in the wild wild web.

If the original goal was to be connected, how’s your handshake now?  As excited as I am by the technology and mobile application potential,  I remind my entrepreneur friends that business is about trust and confidence built.  It’s not the false send of intimacy on-line but by looking each other in the eye, shaking hands and making sure that we feel valued.

Will we just be friends, or business associates aligning ourselves for success?  Just a sec I have a text I’ll get right back to you.

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Soaps: Circling the Drain or Rejuvenating Their Branding?

I confess I was raised on Another World.  Alright settle down out there with your jokes.

I began watching the Young and the Restless in the 80’s.  It’s been fun to watch the characters marry each other multiple times, live in posh surroundings even when they are broke, battle their evil twins, develop music careers, get face lifts, set hairstyle trends and wear slutty clothes to the office.  I’ve “known” them longer than some of my dearest friends.

In a market where several soap operas have been cancelled, The Young and the Restless team has some red hot branding going on.

At you can now purchase what was once a fictitious cosmetics line. This line include skin care anti-aging products.

This is red hot merchandising at its best.  I cannot vouch for the quality of the products (would love a sample though) but I love the idea of taking merchandising a TV show to a new market.

There is a theory that soap operas are on the way out due to reality television.  It is thought that viewers want quicker story progression.  Soaps can drag one day out for 2 weeks.  But there is comfort in knowing that the vicious behaviour is pretend on soap operas.  Reality TV is staged and scripted to some degree to capitalize on our desire to watch people suffer.  For some of us this is painful because they are not actors and are not always represented accurately in the name of ratings.  In addition, we only know the people on reality TV for a very short time unlike our relationships with soap characters.  But I digress.

While Guiding Light and All My Children executives succumbed to smaller market share The Young and the Restless crew is not taking this trend lying down.  They seem to understand that today’s viewers (customers) require a multi-level connection with their favourite shows.  They are on Twitter and have a great fan page on FaceBook where viewers can post their comments and get feedback.  Both of these are updated regularly and delightfully.  Their website is gorgeous even if the font is a little small.  They clearly understand that customers want to connect with them even if it is only by using a product they see on the show.

The Young and the Restless has also always embraced socially relevant issues in their plotlines covering eating disorders (Tracy), alcoholism (Katherine), child abuse (Kevin), internet addiction (Daniel), STD’s (Lily) and others.  In some cases they broke down social barriers with their courageous writing.

While the genre may be slightly outdated their approach is modern and adaptable.  They are even taking advantage of cross-promotional momentum by strategically aligning themselves with “The Talk” by accessing their demographic.  We need to provide customers with multiple methods of connecting with our brands.  A website is not enough anymore.  We have to have some human connection to create brand loyalty.

I take my hat off in a drawn out, intensely dramatic and suspenseful fashion for their marketing efforts.

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Censorship and Sensibility

Rehleh!   Mr. Darcy you should not utter such things!

Many organizations have developed content/censorship policies for the web.

Should a country have a censorship policy for the internet?

Should you?

Having read the article below, on Roger Ebert’s Facebook page being temporarily removed, I just had to go like his page and see what all the fuss was about.  The poor guy took quite a hit for highlighting the irony of Ryan Dunn’s work/lifestyle and the tragic means of his death.  His page is still covered with profane angry comments.  I think we all wish there were fewer senseless deaths. The whole “Jackass” thing polarized the audience into 2 camps:  Those who do not see the need to access our baser instincts to “rubberneck” on dangerous often painful things; and those who laugh, while empathizing, because it’s not them suffering.  But I digress.

An organization as large as Facebook, must put into place automatic filters that highlight a user for review.  I don’t actually object to this for an organization.  Perhaps we have a case of better safe than sorry.  We don’t know the circumstances of this action on Facebook so we cannot judge.

I have decided that all comments for my blog page have to be approved by me because every once in a while someone a little wacky will just unload on a gal and I don’t feel I need to expose my subscribers to this.  If the comment is just controversial I will just use symbols where they have used profanity.  I don’t object to people disagreeing with me at all; but I have to say I admire those with a little impulse control.

My friend Charles Eichman in Texas made the point that everything will eventually offend someone’s sensibilities.  It’s that old adage that you can’t please everyone all of the time.

I have a confession to make.  I love to swear.  Seriously I just love it.  It’s just more punctuation (in the right audience) in the language that I love so dearly.  My eldest sister once told me that swearing meant you had a weak vocabulary.  I disagree of course sis because it’s really about the time and place of your use of profanity.  I use “fricken-frackin” in mixed company on occasion.  I’ve also stolen a few euphemisms from the immortal words of Roman Moroni in the 1984 film “Johnny Dangerously”.

Here’s where some of us differ.  I do not swear on-line or attack people.  So no one shuts me down.  It’s pretty simple if you think about it.  You can firmly, even angrily disagree with someone on-line without the use of threats or profanity.  Just make a valid argument.

It’s good to think about your corporate internet policies and standards.  You are what you publish.  Forever.  And ever and ever by the way.  As I mentioned in my last blog, once you get some good SEO (search engine optimization) on a mistake you have to work pretty hard to overcome it.  You have to give the social media gang a pretty good reason to forgive.

It’s just about understanding that, if you use the media, you bear some responsible for how the media impacts others.  I don’t think we need to walk on eggshells, just censor yourselves and be sensible with other people’s sensibilities.

After all Mr. Darcy, what will people say?

Provocateur du Jour

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Social Media Justice for Vancouver

Canadians woke up a little ashamed on Thursday in the aftermath of the riots in Vancouver.  We are usually considered so “nice” and “polite” after all.  The really sad part is that globally it isn’t Vancouver, but Canadians in generally, that are taking the heat for this fiasco of crazed behaviour.  To be frank, Vancouver had a big public sore loser tantrum forever memorialized on the internet.  This is no small public relations gaff for a city that recently hosted the Olympics, and is an international player culturally.

We can learn from this.  It was not the majority of citizens who perpetrated this atrocity.  It is however a larger group that is attempting to recover and compensate for the mistakes made.  Can these efforts assist in the public relations recovery?  Private citizens have taken to the streets to clean up.

People are making concerted and public efforts to thank the police for their efforts to control the violence.  I was so ashamed of those criticizing the police for not anticipating/controlling the crazy mob.  It was the worst kind of flash mob activity and clearly caught them by surprise.  I mean, who expects nice Canadians to behave this way?  The photo I’ve added is of a police car covered in thank you notes from the citizens of Vancouver.

This morning we wake up to the media covering the clean-up efforts.  We are happy to have an opportunity to see the best in Vancouver.  We are happy to publicize better behaviour.  When someone, or a group, makes a mistake we seek the opportunity to acknowledge the apology and forgive so we don’t have to be ashamed or angry any more.  We actually feel a bit of relief.

Whether it is Vancouver hockey fans, or Maple Leaf meat products, or Bill Clinton, it is indeed possible to recover from a public relations catastrophe.  Yes you will lose a few fans but there will be others who are loyal; and even a few who weren’t fans who will see the value of your efforts to make amends.  They will see the true integrity of the city of Vancouver and understand that it was those bad apples that tarnished the reputation and not the policy of the majority, or the organization.

We must find it in our hearts to be proud of those assisting in the public relations recovery.  We must promote the idea that today is a new day with new opportunities to redevelop the relationship.   The city of Vancouver may have a little egg on its face, and I’m sure their tourism team is working furiously to overcome this challenge; but we can’t hold a PR grudge or remain bitter.  We can’t ignore this apology.  That’s just rude.

As quickly as social media spread the word of this heinous behaviour, we can use social media to get the word out that Vancouver understands its mistake.  We can spread positivity just as easily, even though it won’t make the headlines in the same way.  It just takes more effort.  The criminals are being caught through identification on FaceBook and other social networking sites.  People want to do the right thing and want to talk about it.

My hat is off to those citizens who are moving through their shame to create a better Vancouver, my birth place.

In business, as in life, reputation recovery is possible if the heart, and social media, are willing.

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