September 7, 2010

A tweet can cost you plenty

Posted in current events, Social Life, social media, Work-Life at 3:17 pm by Jennifer

Love it or hate it, Twitter is steadily gaining in popularity and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. Celebrities, athletes, CEO’s and everyone in between are communicating these days in short sentences, but 140 characters is still enough to get into big trouble.

Professional athlete Stephanie Rice may have won big at the Olympics, but when she tweeted an offensive statement during a heated rugby match she immediately experienced international backlash. Despite making a public apology and taking down the offending tweet, Jaguar soon dropped their endorsement of Stephanie.

Jaguar spokesman Mark Eedle released the following statement on the issue; “We have terminated our agreement with her. It’s to do with how we want to associate our brand and unfortunately this … is not an association we want to have going forward.” (Source: AP)

While I firmly believe that in many instances a person’s private life should remain private and outside the realm of corporate/public scrutiny, when you enter into certain careers or accept corporate endorsements you accept the terms and the level of public accountability that come with it. Tiger Woods is another example of companies making a judgment call and ending endorsements based on the personal life of their spokesperson – and he lost a lot more than his wife over his scandal. Stephanie may not have meant to offend anyone and chose her words in the heat of the moment, but the result is a lesson for all of us.

A few lessons learnt;

  • It’s good practice to brief your clients in social media usage and etiquette, even as a refresher. People have varying levels of experience in understanding new mediums of communication.
  • If your company or client sponsors and/or uses individuals as spokespeople, they are linked to your brand. It’s important to know what they are saying/doing in the public eye as well as messages they are sharing through their public profiles.
  • When in doubt, don’t post it. While you can “remove” things there is always an online trail, and you don’t know who may have seen the information before you had a change of heart.
  • Offensive, racist or derogatory words? I’m of the opinion they’re never okay no matter the context.

 Do you think Jaguar was justified in terminating their endorsement over her tweet?



September 1, 2010

Is there a line between “inspired by” and just plain copying?

Posted in social media, trends at 9:46 am by Jennifer

Last week I read an article in the Globe tech section about everybody’s favorite smelling meme – Old Spice guy. The article was about the new Telus ads that seem to try to capture the same over the top bravado which made “Spice” such a great campaign. Many people are commenting that this is an obvious attempt to capitalize on a campaign that has been incredibly successful. Is this the case?

Where is the line between repurposing marketing tactics that worked for one promotion and pilfering them for your own brand?

One of my favorite campaigns was the Dove “Campaign for Real Beauty”. It made me smile, I loved the messaging and it started discussions between people about standards of beauty. Then came the campaign for “true beauty”. They subverted the Dove messaging to its very core, but in the end accomplished what they set out to achieve – to reply to the “real beauty” campaign by asserting they have their own tightly defined parameters of what “beauty” is. Did they try to capitalize off of the original campaign? Of course.

But back to the man I wish my man could smell like. I loved the campaign, still love the campaign BUT – was it the first of its kind? Is the sense of overconfident bravado, over the top claims blended with humor an original marketing concept? Not too long ago there was the most interesting man in the world – what would he have to say about Mr. Old Spice stealing his thunder?

At the end of the day many ideas will draw inspiration from something else, it’s a part of the creative process. But where we draw the line between plagiarism and inspiration is not necessarily always clear cut.


August 19, 2010

A New Reason to be Afraid of Chatroulette

Posted in current events, social media at 4:08 pm by Jennifer

When Chatroulette made its debut on the internet I was excited. The simple concept was intriguing to me, being able to connect with complete strangers from across the globe at random via webcam. The ability to have face to face real-time interactions with people of different cultures and backgrounds. To be able to hear about how people live in different cities and countries. To…. see body parts I really don’t want to see blown up on my computer screen.

As Chatroulette started to gain momentum I began writing a blog post about how this new social application could be used as a unique PR and marketing tool – having heads of companies online randomly interacting with users about their brands (imagine Bill Gates popping onto your screen to tell you about the new version of Windows), TV show characters making the rounds online in advance of a show’s new season (what I wouldn’t give to pick the brains of the True Blood cast) or musicians self promoting through one-on-one concerts via webcams. There are countless possibilities.

So for my post, I went online eager to experience this new phenomenon and do a full write up including screen shots. I was left… a bit dejected and having seen things that I can never unsee. The Chatroulette blog post was put out of my mind. Until today.

Today Mashable spotlighted a brilliant campaign for “The Last Exorcism” movie that took place over Chatroulette, where unsuspecting men got a glimpse of more than they bargained for. Their reaction shots are priceless.

I think this campaign successfully and creatively used Chatroulette, finding ways to “interact with” rather than “market at” people. Bottom line – something that catches my attention or makes me laugh is much more impactful in my opinion than some of the advertising “wallpaper” we are largely becoming desensitized to.


–  BB

August 11, 2010

How to Say “I Quit” with Style

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:46 am by Jennifer

Sometimes leaving your job is a difficult decision, sometimes it’s just a big relief and a chance to find something better suited to you. I’ve left positions that were very hard to leave and big changes for me, and I’ve left when things just did not feel right anymore. But I have never left a job in any of the creative ways making headlines this week.

My personal favorite? A girl so clever she could only be called Jenny (We Jennifers are a special bunch.) The details of her leaving a position where she was demoralized and objectified have made my week – no, my month. Brilliant! Dearest Jenny, you are my new hero.

Also topping the news this week is the JetBlue flight attendant who was mistreated by one rude passenger too many, and slid his way to precious freedom after helping himself to a few beers from the mini-bar.

These particular situations are funny, but the stories point to a rise in workplace frustrations and dissatisfaction. We’ve all seen the news stories of people who were let go only to return to their offices with intentions of hurting their former coworkers.

So then what should you do if you are just not happy anymore? If you feel you were mistreated or if you think that you were taken for granted, by all means seek out a new employer who will treat you with the respect and acknowledgement you deserve. If where you find yourself now is not where you imagined you would be, take a risk and look elsewhere. But a few things to keep in mind;

  1. The internet is public and searchable, keep your venting to long talks with friends over a martini and off of the web.
  2. Reputation. Protect yours – be yourself and treat others how you want to be treated.
  3. Word of mouth accounts for a lot in this world. If you had good relationships with colleagues there is no reason not to maintain them if at all possible.
  4. Give your employer adequate notice so that they can find a suitable replacement. And no, an hour is not adequate notice.
  5. Do not slack off after your have made the decision to leave – if you’ve done a lot of hard work that’s what you want to leave behind. Take the time to wrap up loose ends, update remaining staff on what you have been doing and make the transition easier when they take over.
  6. Be honest and transparent about why you are making the decision to leave. Obviously be tactful, but I think that employers have the right to know why you’ve made the decision.

Even if you don’t think your efforts will be appreciated at the time you will be able to smile, hold your head high and know that you’ve done the right thing. I really do believe that we should all treat others the way we want to be treated and what goes around does come around. (But if that’s just not your style, feel free to send your boss a whiteboard message of your very own. And please send me the photos.)

– BB

(In other news as a part of my ongoing “to do list” of hobbies, I’ve been baking up a storm. Like these rainbow cupcakes – a big hit with my neighbors and coworkers!)

Now with 50% more Unicorn!

August 4, 2010

PR The Movie – Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You

Posted in Just for fun, Movies at 9:31 am by Jennifer

When a movie or TV series portrays specific careers I think that it’s interesting how certain jobs are depicted. After the premiere of CSI many more students turned to forensics as a career choice and my sister (a neonatal nurse in Ottawa) loves watching the hospital drama Grey’s Anatomy every week.

I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this.

Monday night as I unpacked the very last box in my new apartment, I poured myself a glass of red wine and put in season three of Sex and The City for a bit of much needed wind down time. Oh Samantha Jones, you hard partying PR vixen. Why can I not picture you sitting behind a desk pulling together an extensive media list or creating a critical path for an event?

I’m a self-confessed movie addict which got me to thinking – how else is the PR industry portrayed in film? A few movies came to mind.

Thank you for Smoking – I really love this movie, even though it’s not the most flattering portrayal of PR professionals. What it does is highlight the reality that all kinds of clients and industries need/use PR (from small local charities to multinational corporations.) In the movie the main character Nick never claims there aren’t health risks associated with smoking but instead uses his wit while defending big tobacco, resulting in one of my favorite bits of movie dialogue;

Nick Naylor: Well, the real demonstrated #1 killer in America is cholesterol. And here comes Senator Finistirre whose fine state is, I regret to say, clogging the nation’s arteries with Vermont Cheddar Cheese. If we want to talk numbers, how about the millions of people dying of heart attacks? Perhaps Vermont Cheddar should come with a skull and crossbones.

Senator Ortolan Finistirre: That is ludicrous. The great state of Vermont will not apologize for its cheese!

Jerry Maguire – Oh pre-Oprah couch jumping Tom Cruise, you had me at hello. If this movie taught me anything it’s that integrity, standing by what you believe and taking a risk can be the key to a successful career. As cliché as it sounds, what goes around really does come around in the end.

Wag the Dog – What’s the best way for a President facing a scandal mere weeks before election to divert the attention of American voters? Why, invent a fictional war of course! Robert DeNiro plays a fast thinking “spin doctor” named Conrad Brean who hires a big shot Hollywood producer to literally create a war in the White House basement. The “coverage” is broadcast on TV so that the President can “take control of the situation” and save the day. But really, this story is so farfetched it could never actually happen in America… *cough cough* I think that deception in PR is generally a really bad idea. Once the truth comes out you will lose all credibility.

The Queen –This movie is about relationships, within families but also from a PR standpoint – relationships with the public. After the death of Princess Diana the public becomes increasingly frustrated that the Royal Family has not released a statement. They interpret this silence as a lack of respect or caring. The Queen in the end addresses the public in a moving TV interview. As a public figure or an organization, saying nothing is not always the best course of action. I think there is always something that can be offered to the public, even if it’s just that you have heard their concern.

Chicago – I’m a sucker for a musical, and while Billy Flynn (Richard Gere) is actually a slick talking Chicago lawyer the movie does a very humorous critique of “spinning the truth” and media relations. Things like reinforcing important key messages as well as branding/creating an image are explored to extreme lengths through song and dance.

Sex and the City (movies 1 and 2) – I just had to include these movies because watching the second film I think Samantha taught us all a very important lesson. While visiting in Abu Dhabi her overt displays of sexuality get her into trouble both legally and professionally. While we should be our authentic selves, you are always representing your company/yourself and need to be mindful of your clients and also respectful of cultural differences.

What films have been made about your career, and what do you think about the portrayal?

– BB

July 28, 2010

Home Sweet Office

Posted in Just for fun, Work-Life at 2:15 pm by Jennifer

This is going to be a very quick post; I just wanted to share a bit about MCI since I spend so much of my time here! Usually when I’m referring to “my second home” it’s in regards to my beloved Rex Jazz Club, but then I realized since I joined my new agency I haven’t talked about it very much.  That isn’t a reflection of there being nothing to talk about, but instead of there being a lot happening over here.

Things have been incredibly busy for all of us; a lot of exciting changes happening online, with new clients as well as existing ones on top of us all getting to know eachother. I work with quite a few talented men and women and we all have different backgrounds and experience; marketing, medical, Government, consumer, non-profit, events, social media (just to name a few). There’s a whole grab bag of talent and we’re constantly learning from one another.

I’m also lucky enough to live basically across the street. (Edit: Maybe not so lucky when someone gets elected to “pop by” the office at strange hours!) I totally love the space; it’s central and beautiful with exposed brick walls, scattered plants/flowers and an open concept. I was so used to having an office at my previous agency that the open layout was something I had to get used to, but I think I actually prefer being able to “poke up” and see/speak to some of my fellow coworkers.

I snapped a few pictures and thought I would share them – enjoy!

So, what is your office/workplace like? What makes it unique/special?

– BB

July 22, 2010

An Open Letter to 5am

Posted in Just for fun, Work-Life at 1:42 pm by Jennifer

Dear 5am,

I felt that I needed to sit down and write you a letter, because while we may have had our differences in the past I think it’s important that we learn to get along. After all, because of my career choice we are bound to be working together from time to time.

We’ve had some good times 5am. On more than one occasion in my student days I’ve stayed up late with you, but if I’m honest, I don’t really feel like waking up with you. That may seem a bit like a double standard, but it’s the truth. You could say I’ve outgrown wanting “that kind” of a relationship with you. It’s not that I’m ashamed to be seen with you, it’s just that you look and feel a lot different in the harsh early morning light and it generally doesn’t work for me.

I wanted to apologize for the things I’ve said to you in the past. I know that I said I would never see you again that one early morning where you had me feeling disoriented and I almost broke my foot against the door frame. That language was very unladylike, and I’m sorry. I’ll try not to let it happen again.

I think it’s important 5am that we see other people. You’ll need to be understanding. After all, 7am is my best friend and I love to spend the occasional Saturday or Sunday with whatever hour I want. But that doesn’t mean we won’t still see each other once in a while. It just means it might not be very often.

 Take care of yourself, and I’ll see you around.

(Although not too soon I hope.)

Your acquaintance,

Jennifer Ouellette

July 20, 2010

How long is your to do list?

Posted in Social Life, Work-Life at 8:45 am by Jennifer

I keep a running sheet of work related tasks and deadlines on my computer desktop, a print version on my desk… stuck on post its… everywhere really. The list always seems to grow but it keeps me on track. Things get done in the structured-chaos way I like to think I have perfected over the years.

But over the past week I’ve been thinking about another “to-do” list, the list of things I have always wanted to do but never find time for or pushed myself into. Topping the list for me right now?

  1. Make indoor rock climbing a weekly thing
  2. Salsa Dancing lessons (I’m still on the fence for this one, but have always wanted to try)
  3. Regularly go to Yoga
  4. Take an expert cake decorating class (I blame Cake Boss for making me want to do this.)
  5. Take more photos and try new photography techniques
  6. Dog. Training. Classes. (My dog looks sweet an innocent, but he’s a little terror.)

Those are only a few that I can think of for myself right now. The point is, sometimes it’s way too easy to fall into a routine, crossing things off of a list at work and then curling up at home with the latest season of Mad Men. But by listing things you have always wanted to do but never have, you force yourself to face them every day and will be more likely to actually cross them off.

My 3 year old pug, Rambo


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

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