October 1, 2010

Making an Impression on the Toronto Fashion Scene

Posted in events, Just for fun, Social Life, trends at 10:20 pm by Jennifer

Joe Fresh made a lot of fans when it launched in 2006, selling a mix of wardrobe basics and fashion forward pieces at relatively low prices by industry standards. It was created by Joseph Mimran, co-founder of Club Monaco and I’ve been a fan for a while now. I love being able to update my wardrobe without hearing my Visa scream out in pain.

While I still lean mainly towards stores like Zara, Banana Republic and Club Monaco for my work wardrobe Joe Fresh has added to my closet some of my very favorite outfits for after work drinks, dates and dinner with friends. So I was pleasantly excited to be invited and have a sneak peek at the recent Joe Fresh Runway Sale, partnered with Lou Lou (love this magazine). I knew a few pieces that I had my eyes on from the fall collection and was hoping to get my hands on them.

The event promised food, wine and fashion – who could possibly pass that up? Apparently, no one could! It was packed full of Toronto fashionistas scanning the racks like seasoned veterans. Being one of the first 20 people in the store I luckily found and grabbed what I wanted then snuck over to the change rooms and avoided the crowds.

Then to my pleasant surprise, the man behind the brand himself made an appearance. Joseph was friendly, approachable and walked around consulting with girls giving style advice – I briefly met him and was amazed at the relaxed confidence he exuded, cool yet completely approachable.

Planning events for clients is never an easy task, and I think overall the Joe Fresh pop up event was a hit. Some things I think could have been done better:

  • Crowd control. At one point the store was way too crowded, huge lineups for the change rooms and the cash registers. A larger space could have solved this, with areas dedicated to nibbling, socializing and sipping wine.
  • Sizes. Apparently they ran out of small/extra small in the first hour (or so I heard). Luckily I was able to get the things I wanted in small before the crowds hit.
  • No men’s clothing. Not even a little bit. I saw a few men in the crowd and felt they were left out.

But what was done exceptionally well made all of the difference. The staff was all very friendly from the people in the fitting rooms to the catering staff handing out (surprisingly good) canapés and dry white wine. I was amazed how quickly they passed through the crowd again and again, with new things that everyone got a chance to try.

The biggest bonus from an event standpoint IMO? Joseph Mimran attending. There is nothing that creates more credibility with a brand and makes an impact on customers than being able to speak with a CEO or the head of a company one on one. Making these impressions can be time consuming, yes, but they really work and create lasting impressions on your target market. Authenticity and a friendly attitude can go a long way to creating brand loyalty.

– BB

September 22, 2010

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain*

Posted in current events, events, social media tagged at 4:48 pm by Jennifer

I can’t write a post about transparency and not mention that while I do talk about Netflix in this post, I won’t be going into their services etc. I work for Mansfield  and Zip.ca is a client of ours. So while this post isn’t about Netflix per se, their services or even really Netflix as a brand I thought that I should put that out in the open from the very start. And now that’s out of the way, on to my post!

Public perception of the PR industry is not always favourable. It seems to either glamorize all night parties and rubbing shoulders with celebrities or it paints us as huddled around a long boardroom table plotting evil schemes to make big bad companies look good. That just isn’t the case, and PR companies that try to “spin the truth” or “trick the public” tend not to have the respect of their peers or survive in this industry. The reality is despite devastating cuts to the media industry there remain savvy and dedicated reporters ready to flush out a balanced story as well as a rise in bloggers who truly do their homework. Social media has given way to an army of tech-savvy super sleuths and the last thing I would ever advise a client or colleague to do is try to deceive them! These days it seems the truth is just a click or link away.

So what’s this about? It’s a lesson to all of us in being open, honest and transparent with the public when sharing information with them. Recently Netflix launched a press conference and public event in downtown Toronto. It was right around the corner from my office and flyers were being handed out yesterday, I just so happened to get my hands on one.

Their concept was really creative with actors dressed up as movie characters passing flyers out – really fun and I thought this was a great way to promote the launch of their new streaming movie service. Those actors were a great idea. The ones paid to “play types, for example, mothers, film buffs, tech geeks, couch potatoes etc.” – not such a great idea. Especially when media are asking those same extras for their opinions on the product thinking that they are average people who just so happened to stop by the launch.

This isn’t the first snag in a public relations campaign where a company was not transparent in their activities. WalMart suffered a major blow when the blog “Walmarting Across America” instead “WalMarted across the internet”. It was exposed to be a PR campaign disguised as average couple Jim and Laura’s roadtrip to various WalMart locations. As my coworker pointed out when we were talking about this, “Why would anybody do that?”

This post isn’t meant as a hand slap to Netflix or WalMart’s PR agencies by pointing out what happened. When mistakes are made we should learn from eachother and apply better techniques to our overall practices. At the end of the day we need to relate to the public, earn their trust, understand the power of social media and engage people openly on behalf of our clients but also protect our own reputations. Not being transparent can lead to situations where you will have to work really hard to rebuild public trust.

Also check out Chris (a.k.a Nachosatmidnight)’s take on the launch including some funny graphics that made me ha-ha.

– BB

* From The Wizard of Oz – I did a paper my graduating year about the importance of “the man behind the curtain” and the statement this makes on “political spin”.

July 1, 2010

Man is free at the moment he wishes to be*

Posted in current events, events at 2:05 pm by Jennifer

I was Tweeting quite a bit throughout but I wanted to wait a few days after the G20 weekend to blog about it. I usually like for the dust to settle and to have a chance to look at all of the sides before I talk about something. Sometimes social media makes it a bit too easy to toss anything online without taking the time to research and reflect on it first. On the other hand, access to immediate information and updates has been useful time and time again… Either way, I waited until today.

I had a great conversation last night about the G20 protests, riots and actions of the police and was asked point blank “So how do you really feel about it?” (I love direct people.)

I think that there are so many “shades of grey” in this situation, and I’m just plain tired of people choosing sides. How much worse would things have been without the police force present? What progress would be made for social issues without the activities and organization of legitimate protest groups? What makes for a “legitimate” protest group? Was the expense justified in the end?

I was caught in the Queen/Spadina “kettle” and live on Queen Street West so I took a lot of photos over the weekend. I could have shut myself in my apartment, but locking your door doesn’t make something go away. Sometimes the best way to appreciate social issues and freedom is by exposing yourself to uncomfortable situations (obviously within reason, I kept relatively safe). That’s just my opinion.

So back to the question, what is my honest opinion on the G20 weekend?

I think it could have been much worse, and I’m glad that no one (to my knowledge) was seriously hurt or killed. Pick a side if you have to, but let’s not forget that we’re lucky to live in this country.

Happy Canada Day.

– BB

* Voltaire

June 17, 2010

A “kind of sort of” post

Posted in events, fundraising at 8:29 pm by Jennifer

Things have been incredibly hectic lately, with many changes in both my personal and professional life. (For one, I learnt how to make homemade gnocchi!)

So for a hasty post I thought I might just add a few recent event photos and a link to a great cause. I attended a fundraising event for Rethink Breast Cancer with some of my colleagues, and we all had a great time while supporting a very important cause. The theme was “Superheroes”, and after getting the short straw in the costume selection I was “Spiderman”. Well, I was sort of Spiderman. (My boots were Spiderman costume boots, I wore a red dress and mask and I has webs drawn on my wrists. That was about the extent of my creativity that day.) 

I wanted to post a few of us having a great time below!

Events, either planning them behind the scenes or getting to attend events planned by others – are one of my favourite aspects of PR. This annual event organized by the Rethink team was a fabulously creative way to promote their organization and cause.

– BB