Archive for the ‘Loyalist College’ Tag

“Real World” Here I Come!

Today I got the email every student likes to hear: “You are graduating!”

Loyalist PR was the catalyst for the creation of this blog, and I have continued it well past the December due date mark.  Part of my program included an internship at Engine Communications where I updated their blog, Facebook and Twitter.  It was a great experience, and I hope I can continue to stay in contact with them.

Now, I have begun work at Loyalist Certification Services which will be another great learning opportunity.  The great thing about the real world is that I now have a vehicle (Mazda 3!) and am not nearly as concerned about receiving loans.  Though, the real world sure seems to take up a lot more time than schooling!

16hrs of class + homework is way less than 40hrs a week at a job.  But it is change, and change is always a good thing!

As long as I don’t create a Whisper-Gate Burson-Marstaller esque PR fiasco, I am pretty sure the real world will be fantastic!


iOS vs. Android: Will Apple Ever Learn?

Apple has a great brand, a great selling product, and legions of loyal followers. I own an iPhone4, and if I was rich, I would own a shiny new iMac or Macbook. Yet, I cannot help but feel as though Apple has not learned from its past mistakes.

In the early 90s, Apple had pretty good success with its Macintosh. They could sell them at a high price, and had a large market share. But Microsoft and Windows overtook Apple in a very similar way that Google is taking over the iOS: Windows was available on many platforms (IBM, Toshiba, HP, Dell, custom builds etc.,), while Apple had its one line of Apple computers (and some knock offs).

Although Apple is an innovator extraordinaire, it could not keep up with the PC because each company could learn from the others mistakes. Eventually, the PC became more affordable and better than the Macintosh over the years. Apple limited the progress of its Macintosh by keeping the OS to one platform.

Now look at the iOS. It is only available for iPhones, an Apple made product. The Android OS started out much worse, but now has drawn even and arguably has pulled ahead.

While Apple can keep launching one kind of iPhone and improving it, its competitors will release multiple different Android phones. Eventually it seems like Apple will fail to keep up and many analysts are predicting a small share of the market for the iPhone.

Apple always keeps its software and hardware together (perhaps due to the knock off Macintoshes) but it needs to expand the reach of iOS. Otherwise, Android will leave Apple with a small and, likely unprofitable, slice of the pie.

Do you agree? Let me know by commenting!

Forget your nerves and just give the presentation!

As Loyalist College and Loyalist PR gears up for our Community Workshops it is amazing to see the nervousness and among people when you say you are going to give a presentation. As I have heard many times, some people fear presentations more than death. Seriously.

Since I barely have Shame, I do not really get how people get so nervous about presentations.  If you give a great one, people will love you.  If you give a bad one, people will be bored.  So you bore a bunch of people and then keep living your life.  At least that is how I think anyways.

One thing that helps is practice.  I remember being taught to practice early on in September, and I thought “how does that really help?” but it really does work.  I find that practice helps you remember and memorize the presentation.  If your nerves start to creep up, you at least have the practices to fall back on.

Getting nervous about presenting is all about over-thinking what is going to happen. It is okay to be nervous.  But get used to them and deliver the best presentation you can.

PR and its Bad Reputation

As my journey continues in the PR and Loyalist College world and I write this (now voluntary) blog, the last few weeks have been busy, fun and eye-opening. From reading numerous blogs, comments, and meeting other people in general, PR does not have a great reputation.

Ironic that the profession concerned with the public has a negative image in their eyes.  Yet, it is the reality. I believe that PR has gotten a bad reputation due to the actions of a few people and because it is associated with corporations, which never have received much public admiration.

First off, the terms “PR stunt” “spin doctor” and all of the typical jargon to deride PR are used quite commonly now, especially when reading about the actions of banks and car manufacturers. These terms are ingrained and probably won’t die away soon. But as PR professionals I think we must strive to leave these terms behind and create great events and say what we can about the situation, rather than trying to spin the truth.  If we create a great event, then the public will not decry it as a “PR stunt.” If we say what we can during any situation without spouting falsity then the public will have no reason to call us “spin doctors.”

The CPRS (Canadian Public Relations Society) and the IABC (International Association of Business Communicators) are the two major PR associations in Canada and provide all PR professionals with codes of ethics. All members must abide by their rules and for good reason.

If all PR professionals follow good judgement, maybe our profession will be seen as a good career rather than a bad one. Perhaps people will be proud to call themselves Public Relations professionals, rather than shroud their profession with words like communicators, public affairs or any other synonym. I know I am proud to be involved with PR, are you?


Creatively Rebuilding Downtown Belleville

My first blog post dealt with the problem of Belleville’s Downtown. Five months later, the Loyalist PR crew tried to tackle the problem, albeit in a different manner.

Divided into 8 groups we creatively came up with ideas to solve the problem. How did we get creative? Some groups painted their solution, others wrote a poem and some scoured magazines to make a collage.

Despite the different mediums used, the messages remained the same:

1) Keep it clean: Belleville needs to keep the streets clean and work on adding trees, flowers to improve the downtown landscape

2) Keep it clean: Belleville needs to get rid of the criminal drug use and prostitution, as was mention in all groups

3) Build it and they will come:  The downtown lacks any great retail stores, there is no hook.  It also lacks any middle class night scene, which would create traffic downtown and drive away the illegal trade happening.

4) Enforcement: Security and police need to enforce the area in order to make the improvements last

5) Work together:  Downtown merchants, citizens and councillors need to work together as a community.  Are the businesses rivals? Yes.  But  that  shouldn’t stop them from promoting each other.  Working together will make the downtown better which will improve traffic and increase sales.

If downtown enacts these improvements and sticks with them, it is sure to succeed.

While playing with play-doh, paint, scissors and glue might seem like child’s play, it spurned our creativity and created an easy way to revitalize downtown Belleville.

Is .50c Worth the Risk?

School is back in session; students return to class and stand in line to wait for student loans. Normally things go smoothly, yet this time before leaving the loan room, they are told they need to pay .50c in change, or else they won’t receive their diploma. Huh?

Back in September, students could option to pay all their tuition via their first loan installment. Yet, something went wrong with the mathematics and now the college wants the student to pay for the college’s mistake or else the college won’t give them a diploma. On the one side, the student does owe money; however, they were not the one who messed up the tuition payment. The college decided how much the full tuition was and took it off the student’s loan installment.

I have talked a lot about crisis communications on my blog and one of the key aspects is to identify potential crises and remove them. A PR nightmare is just waiting to happen if a student fails or refuses to pay .50c. Local media would run with the story of a hard working student being denied their diploma and chances are the situation could be a national embarrassment. Enrollment and prestige in the college could plummet and they would be out thousands of dollars.

Instead of threatening the students, the college should absorb their accounting error. If every student owed .50c, it would only be close to $1,000.  That pales in comparison with the damage a PR crisis would cause.

Happy New Year!

So begins 2011.  One year ago I was knee deep in philosophy; now I am knee deep in public relations.  Change occurs at a rapid pace and any person in PR better remember that.

Change is good as it means progress but it is best to always be prepared for it.  If a company or client fails to respond to change they are going to be left in the dust.  With a new year, brings a renewed passion and vigour.  If you have failed to react in the past, start reacting and begin to be proactive.

One year brings lots of new and exciting challenges to anyone.  I am excited for the next semester of public relations and my career launch after the semester ends.  It is exciting to think that I will be working in the field soon and putting all of my new skills to help people further their products.

So goodbye 2010 and happy New Year! Enjoy 2011 and be prepared for the exciting year ahead.

The Marketing Success of Christmas

Tis the season to be jolly, so the song goes.  I agree with the song too.  People in general are much nicer, happier and joyful around Christmas compared to any other time of the year.  The public is also apt to spend lots of money during Christmas.  While many criticize the commercialization of Christmas, I think marketing has only enhanced the gift giving of Christmas.

Christmas has been celebrated for centuries and has always brought families, friends and happiness to the forefront of our minds.  Usually these are pushed to the back of our minds for the majority of the year, but Christmas evokes something in us.  It inspires, it gives hope and people are genuinely in a good mood around Christmas.

What happens when people are carefree and happy? They tend to have parties, give gifts which results in spent money.  Instead of worrying, people are happy.  Instead of saving, people spend and instead of working, they spend lots of time with family.

Marketing has enhanced the spirit of Christmas in both happiness and gift buying.  Christmas is now associated with giving.  You are a rare family if you do not give boatloads of gifts during Christmas.  Marketing has been so successful because it has a natural launching pad to start with.  Yet, if people feel better during Christmas is it okay to have gluttonous spending as a by-product? (or better feelings a by-product of over-spending)?

Yes, it is okay.  In the end, money is just money but family is something special.  If the kindness, joy and feeling of Christmas could carry out for the entire 12 months, the world would be much happier overall.  Physical objects such as money do not create happiness.  Christmas brings the spirit that all humans need to have.  Enjoy your Christmas with family and friends!

Battling Spurious Loyalty

Spurious brand loyalty, according to Wikipedia is when a customer “repurchases a brand due to situational constraints…, a lack of viable alternatives, or out of convenience.” So how does a company battle against spurious loyalty when they enter a new market?

Well, in the world of popular coffee this battle has been going on for a few years.  Currently, Tim Hortons has legions of spurious customers.

“Let’s get a Tim’s before work” or “I’ll grab a double double in order to stay awake” are just a few examples of Tim Hortons’ brand dominance.

Since coffee is a million dollar business, McDonald’s has recently (the last few years) entered the fray.  However, with Tim’s Hortons having legions of spurious customers, how does a company pull coffee drinkers away from the only place they get coffee from?

McDonald’s thinks free coffee is the answer.  Currently, McDonald’s offers a free small coffee 24/7 to customers with no strings attached.  They figure, if people skip buying Tim’s in order to get a free McDonald’s coffee, they will see that McDonald’s coffee is superior and start buying McDonald’s instead.

Yet, McDonald’s free promotion is risky.  Offering free coffee might get some people to try out its coffee, yet if they are giving it out for free then once the promotion is over it might be hard to persuade people to start buying a free product.  It’s hard to argue one week later that a free product now needs to be paid for.  What happened between the two weeks to create a 140% increase in price? (0-$1.40)

Another problem is that automatically people will think a free coffee is worse than one that has to be paid for.  I think to myself, well if this coffee is free how can it be better than coffee worth 140% more in price?  Although it is entirely possible that a free coffee is better, it creates a negative perception prior to the first sip.

Instead, I think McDonald’s needs to begin switching tactics.  Have some coffee related events to draw media interest.  Instead of giving everyone free coffee, have some samples in the store to promote the coffee.  Provide excellent customer service, excellent coffee, and promote the coffee through an integrated marketing plan.  This strategy will avoid the risks of the free coffee promotion and create a prestige or at least a positive reputation for McDonald’s coffee.

By creating a great product and coupling it with great service, McDonald’s can create some buzz around its coffee.  Better coffee with a smile, what more do customers want?

PC Superdogs vs. Ricoh





PC Superdogs and Ricoh were both prominent sponsors at the 2010 Royal Winter Fair.  Yet I remember President’s Choice as a pet food company and I only know Ricoh by name, not what they stand for.

Superdogs is a 30 minute show featuring all different sorts of dog tricks and dog races.  Its title sponsor is President’s Choice, the in store brand at any Loblaw’s owned store.  During the presentation, large PC symbols adorn pretty much everything.

The best part of their branding is the giant inflatable bags which look like dog food bags at the grocery stores. President’s Choice also sets up a nutrition booth near the event to give away samples, give nutritional info and to promote all of its different types of pet food.

In contrast, Ricoh sponsors the main arena (part of their deal with the Toronto Marlies and the horse jumping show: The Ricoh Big Ben Challenge.  While the sponsorship helps out horse jumping, it doesn’t create any brand loyalty for Ricoh. Most people will remember the name, but they have no idea about the brand.  Admittedly, marketing copiers and fax machines is much harder; yet, Ricoh establishes no brand loyalty while spending a lot of money.

Ricoh and PC are sure to host other events and participate in numerous other public relations activities; however, at the Royal Winter Fair the PC Superdogs were effective at brand promotion while Ricoh remains an unknown brand.

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