Every Minute Counts

Politics- everyone’s favourite topic. We all know about politicians, whether we like them or not, but how much do we know about the people supporting the politicians?

This week I was able to learn a bit more about Patrick Searle’s job, one of the staff supporting Glen Murray, the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure for the Government of Ontario.

Patrick Searle is the Press Secretary and Communications Manager for the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. The job is fast-paced and everything must be quick and concise in order for the minister’s messages to reach the public at the right time in the right manner.

Patrick says, “Our job is always to communicate what needs to be communicated” in order to make the public understand.

Patrick says, “We’re faced with a tired population.” When running press conferences for Glenn Murray, he must consider what a reporter would ask and how to make relevant connections for the public. When working with government, there is also an understanding that the majority of population don’t have time for them and even aren’t very interested in them. The messages must be clear, concise, and to the point. The first two sentences coming out of a politician’s mouth are the most important because they determine whether someone will continue listening or not, and whether the media will continue to report on the event or move on to a more interesting topic.

When we watch the news, we see politicians speak at podiums and in auditoriums, but we don’t consider all the details that went into the location, the background, the lighting, the speech, the sound, and all the other details that were crafted to create a memorable moment. A moment that Patrick hopes would make it into the 6:00 news, the pinnacle of the news day.

There are people who have orchestrated these events to ensure that what needs to be communicated is communicated. They ensure that the media is communicated by the minute so they don’t become bored, that the room will accommodate all the media, that the background appropriately reflects the speech, that the politician has transportation to the event at the right moment and more.

Next time you watch the news, look behind the clips of the politicians and consider all the details that went into the press conference and behind the scenes.

Get Over Yourself, and Other Advice  

downloadI recently had the pleasure to listen to Donna Gillespie speak to my Public Relations class about her job. She works as the Director of Marketing & Corporate Communications at Kingston Economic Development Corporation (KEDCO). Her job is to promote Kingston as the best city to live and work.

I took away a few key components from her talk with us:

  1. Gain tangible experience

Donna volunteered and got engaged in the community before coming to KEDCO. This provided tangible experience to add to her resume, and gave her a chance to get involved in her city in a valuable way.

  1. “It doesn’t feel like selling when you honestly believe in your product.”

Donna loves Kingston and loves promoting Kingston. She feels that it doesn’t actually feel like work if you love what you’re selling. This is an excellent perspective to have in a company.

  1. Sometimes you need to take advantage of opportunities with smart mentors, regardless of pay.

In a job, ask questions and learn from mentors. In the past, Donna has had opportunities where she stayed in a position with lower pay in order to learn from smart mentors. Sometimes the growth experience and the influence they can have in your career will benefit you more in the long run than higher pay.

  1. “Anything you do can be better, you just have to get over yourself.”

In the office, in school, in personal projects, and anywhere in life, there is always room for improvement. Most of the time the reason we don’t make projects the best they can be, is because of our own egos. When we see something as perfection with no room for improvement, it’s usually our own feelings preventing us from seeing the possibilities. When we move past them we can see the opportunities for enhancement.

I have found this to be true many times throughout my life. I have put my hands up at the end of a project when I think it’s already perfect and there could be no improvements made to it. When someone thoughtfully and tactfully tried to provide input as to how I could make it better, I didn’t want to hear it. But when I listened to them and made the changes they suggested, it improved the end result greatly many of the times.

All of these thoughts are wise practices to exceed in your career and life.

Lord of the Rings Wisdom

Lord of the Rings“Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.”

That inspirational quote is from The Lord of the Rings. The ethereal elf Galadriel, played by Cate Blanchett, says it in her breathy and deep voice, referring to the power that the small hobbits play in the course of their journey, despite being looked down upon as insignificant and small. And anyone who has read the novel or seen the movie knows this quote to be true.

As beautiful as the sentiment is, I’d like to change the quote slightly for the purposes of this blog post,

“Even the smallest opportunities can change the course of the future.”

Recently I had the opportunity to hear Paul Fitzgerald speak in my PR class. He is the CEO at Salt & Pepper Media Inc., a well known public relations and mass media firm based in Burlington, ON.

He told us a great story about how he embraced a seemingly small opportunity, and was rewarded with bigger opportunities through it.

He created a PR plan for a product called Pure Power Mouthguard. The mouthguard ismouthguard created specifically for athletes such as baseball and football players, golfers, athletes in the Olympics, and hockey players in the NHL in order to improve their performance. Paul was tasked with the job of ensuring that this product was made aware to the media.

He created news releases that covered many different angles to interest the media to pick up his story, including the science and health benefits behind it and reviews from athletes. He sent press releases to thousands of newspapers, but received almost no response.

Except one.

The next day, a small, local Massachusetts newspaper contacted Paul.  The newspaper had very limited readership, but Paul took the time to run the story with them anyway and follow through. In his words, “never turn down media because you never know where it can turn into.”

He and his coworkers certainly didn’t expect the response they received.

Remarkably, the next day Paul received a call from the editor of the Boston Globe. He read the story about the mouth guard in his hometown local newspboston-globe-logo1aper, the Massachusetts newspaper with the small readership! He was so interested, that he wanted to publish the story in the Boston Globe. The mouthguard story was published on the front page. The Pure Power Mouthguard story had gone “small town to big time in a number of hours”

After this, the story was picked up by CNN, New York Times, the Globe and Mail, and many more large –scale newspapers. It received huge exposure and earned them high sales.

Through this experience, Paul advised us to always consider the smaller opportunities because “small things lead to bigger things.”

Where you are may seem small, but remember Lord of the Rings. Even the smallest opportunity can change the course of the future.

Tumlbr hobbits



True Grit

gritWhen I say the word grit, I feel the need to narrow my eyes, clench my jaw, hunch my shoulders, and ball up my fists. It’s a hard-sounding word. And yet, the definition is completely in line with what makes many people so successful.

Grit can be defined as: perseverance and passion over long-term goals. 

Recently I was able to hear Paula Worthington speak. Paula is the PR Vice President for Brookline Public Relations. She is responsible for, “public relations, marketing, stakeholder communications, media relations, media training, crisis communications and event management.“ Independently she takes beautiful freelance photos and does some travel writing.

When asked what advice she has  to succeed, she said to have grit: perseverance and passion over long-term goals.

Perseverance, passion, and long-term goals are all traits of successful people. It tears down the idea that you can get what you want if you simply hold your hands out and eventually you’ll be clutching success in your palms. Success is achieved through labor and vision.

People with grit are able to endure through failures and roadblocks that lead to achieving their goals. What about when you have a horrible boss? Or when your entire plan falls apart? Perhaps no one is supporting you? Grit does not depend on your surroundings; it perseveres through the sunshine and the storms in order to reach your goals ahead, whatever the weather may bring.

How Can You Get Grit? 

Have Long-Term Goals
Do you have goals? Goals give us something to strive for. They give us a sense of urgency to complete the things our hearts ache for, and the vision to achieve them.

Find Your Passion
What makes you passionate? What motivates you to endure whatever comes your way? What makes you vibrant? Even the most straight-faced man’s eyes will light up when he talks about a passion of his, whether it be playing hockey with his son, fixing cars, biking, singing to Bohemian Rhapsody in the car, helping children in underdeveloped countries, taking photos, baking, or golfing. Whatever it may be, these things that get our heart pumping make us light up. We become vibrant.


Brave Uncharted Waters
Paula told us that, “if you learn to get outside your comfort zone, you will find that you’re comfortable anywhere.” Getting outside your comfort zone will feel strange. Uncomfortable even. But for the sake of the future and the goals set before you, braving the uncharted waters will get you to your destination. The shores may seem far between, but once you pass through, the journey will be worth it.

I invite you to live a life of grit. Find your passion. Persevere. Achieve your long-term goals.

Passed-On Advice for Young 20-Somethings Ready to Start Their Careers

You and I are on the cusp of starting our careers. Congratulations! We’ve made it through years of learning and have all the skills we need to be #1 in the workforce. Right?

Not quite. We are missing one crucial thing: experience.

As young people, we often underestimate the true value of being in the workforce for many years. We come in with our bright eyes and fresh ideas, and feel entitled to influence the workplace with a mentality of “out with the old ideas, in with the new ideas.” This can often be perceived like the Tasmanian Devil, spinning with wild eyes, and blazing a trail toward our goal, while creating a mess in our following.

Mondelez Heart copy
Recently, I had the privilege of hearing Stephanie Minna Cass speak to my Public Relations class. Stephanie currently works as the Corporate and Government Affairs Lead for Mondelēz Canada, the company responsible for many house-hold brands such as Cadbury, Trident, Chips Ahoy!, Dentyne, Halls, Oreos, Ritz and more.

As someone who has been in the “real world” for over 15 years, she has valuable wisdom to pass on. Along with many more pieces of wisdom, she passed on these 5 very important pieces of advice.

1. Be a Sponge
Soak up all you can at every job. The people who have been working in your office for years have learned fistfuls of knowledge that they can pass to you. A huge turn-off to employers can be a sense of entitlement. Pop that entitlement balloon around your head and replace the air with wisdom from others.

Ask questions! Don’t pretend that you know everything. People actually like to tell you about how they achieved their success and help young people. Don’t be afraid to ask.

2. When presenting a problem, present 3 solutions.
Stephanie said that when many young employees are faced with a problem, they often present the problem to employers without offering solutions.

In Tina Fey’s hilarious, and often insightful book, Bossypants, she cites the importance of adding to the discussion by using the drama technique- improvisation:


In every situation, we must add an AND. For example, “Unfortunately, I accidentally lost our company $500 AND I have three possible solutions to make up for the loss.” By presenting a problem with solutions, the problem isn’t being dropped on top of your employers task pile for the day. We must always add to the conversation. Show that you can problem-solve by presenting 3 solutions to each problem you encounter.

3. R E S P E C T
Treat everyone with respect: the receptionist, the CEO, the custodian, the cook in the cafeteria, the gardener, your supervisor, your cubicle buddy, even your co-worker you don’t happen to like very much. Everyone has a role in an organization and everyone has value.

A great first step to respect is knowing people’s names.

Mindy Kaling, another funny lady, says in her book, Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me?,:

mindy kaling quote

Simply knowing a person’s name makes people feel respected and valued.

4. Speak Up!
If you have an idea, speak up! Let people know who you are and that you can have smart, thoughtful ideas. But remain in the right spirit: be confident, not cocky.

5. Have fun!
Enjoy your job and have fun.

With these pieces of advice in mind, if I excel even slightly in my career, I want to have this in mind:
Shoulders of Giants Quotes

Made of More

Guiness made this exceptional ad targeting men in an unconventional way:

Commercial Breakdown:
A group of men in wheelchairs are playing basketball together. At the end of the game all but one get up out of their chairs. The man in the wheelchair tells them that they’re all getting better. You realize that they were all playing in wheelchairs to include their friend. The next shot they are all in a bar drinking Guinness. The tagline reads, “Made of More.”

Screen shot 2013-09-08 at 3.12.02 PMTake a moment and google “beer ads” on google images. At least 50% of them feature women in tight, low-cut clothing, or sometimes even no clothing at all. For advertising agencies, this is the easy approach: using attractive women to sell a product primarily consumed by men. And, unfortunately, this approach does work. Agencies have been using it for decades to sell beer. The frat boy target market is not just applicable to guys in college. Some men never grow out of this.

In the movie Never Been Kissed, Josie, an undercover reporter and her teacher, Sam end up on the ferris wheel together. As his students rock the seats above them, he says,

“Boys. You know, I’d like to tell you that we all grow out of it, but, that’s a lie, some
      of us will always be rattling cages.” 

But what about the other men? Who have grown out of “rattling cages”, have heart, and are settling down and taking responsibility? Where are the ads for them?
What is so lovely about Guinness’s ad is how unconventional it is. This approach takes creativity and heart. *High five for creativity Guinness!*

Because truly, men are Made of More.

Multicultural Markers!

Children’s drawings are culturally unacceptable. They most certainly do not embrace the skin tones of different cultures accurately. How many people do you know with banana mania, sepia, or apricot coloured skin? When I was younger and I drew a self portrait, my skin was always peach- not because I was actually coloured like a fruit, but because in a 48 colour box, there were not many options.

Until recently, there was not many accurate options for children to colour skin tones. Crayola has created a very politically correct alternative that embraces all cultures. Multicultural Markers have arrived!


Product description:

Crayola 8-ct. Washable Multicultural Broad Line Markers is an assortment of ethnic-sensitive colors. The broad line markers have a unique conical tip that is good for coloring and detailing. Good colors for school projects.

With a name like Multicultural Markers, it seems like the most politically correct art supply I have ever seen. To be honest, I’m not really sure what to make of this. What do you think of these “ethnic-sensitive” colours?