Newsletter - Spring 2011 - Page 6

Not everyone is born a writer and you don’t have to be to start a blog. As a business owner, you are the expert and you know everything you need to know about your business, your customers and the industry and that’s more than enough to get you started. Here’s how the popular bloggers do it. 1. Read before you write The most important step before starting a blog is to read other blogs that are relevant to your business. This will guide you in terms of the type of content you want to create and it will give you an idea of what your customers are reading. Aside from reading other blogs, it’s a good idea to begin to comment on some of these blogs to start getting your name out there and to position yourself as a knowledgeable source in your industry. Resources like All Top and Technorati are available to help you find blogs that speak to your industry. 2. Write & Share Now that you know what you will be writing about, you can begin to outline any number of subjects that you would like to cover over the coming weeks or months. Keeping an editorial calendar of what you will write about and when is an effective means of keeping you on a consistent schedule so you always have content to share with your readers. If you are linked to social networks like Facebook and Twitter, this is a good place to share your blogs with fans and followers and they can share with their networks easily. 3. Engage The buck does not stop with sharing your blog. Engaging readers in the conversation and responding their comments is the ‘cherry-on-top’ of effective blogging. Invite your fans and followers to read and share their comments and thoughts on your blog and be sure to respond (where necessary) in a timely fashion. As you have read, blogging entails more than just writing and you don’t need to be a strong writer to do it. Always start with your ear to the ground to be aware of what is being said and what the issues and challenges are and speak to those topics that matter most to your audience. Once your readers start becoming engaged with your blog and your business, then you will be well on your way! Sandra Gabriel is Chief Relationship Officer at Gabriel PR, a boutique PR firm in Toronto. You can follow her on twitter @CafeGabriel or visit for more info. Editor’s note: For free blogging applications, complete with tutorials and tools, go to and

Newsletter - Fall 2010 - Page 4

A survey conducted by Regus found that 60% percent of medium-sized Canadian companies and 34% percent of small companies won new customers through social media. So how did they do it and how can you do the same? Start a dialogue with your Facebook fans and Twitter followers to connect with your customers and collect feedback. Social media is also effective in monitoring the competition to see what you can do differently or better. Blogging is the new arena to share with and learn from your customers. Share tips and best practices that will benefit them and allow them to comment. You can also use your blog to promote any sales and promotions you have going on. Cosmopawlitain Pet Boutique + Spa has a blog that features their latest sales and promotions as well as FAQ’s on how to choose food for your pets and training your cat to become accustomed to a harness or leash. offers these tips on getting started with social media: • Develop a strategy - How often do you plan to update your blog or profile? How will you share it with customers? Will you allow comments? Are you prepared to respond to comments or questions posted by the public? • Define your target audience and offer content tailored to their interests. • Keep your account active and update it regularly. • Improve your content based on customer feedback. • Familiarize yourself with privacy and computer security issues. • Use humour, be kind and professional, and share about more than just your work to create a connection with your customers. The most important thing to remember about social media is that it’s not always about selling, in the words of social media mastermind Brian Solis, it’s about listening, learning and sharing.
Sandra Gabriel is Chief Relationship Officer at Gabriel PR, a boutique PR firm in Toronto. You can follow her on twitter @CafeGabriel or visit for more info.

new discount card program for participating retailers in the area. You provide the details of the offer and we will post the info to our website. Your initial offer must be valid to December 31, 2010 and you will have the opportunity to revise the details on our website periodically. Please go to to review and complete the participation form.



OCTOBER 20, 2008

Published by Carswell, a Thomson Reuters business

Surviving the M&A
Open, honest communication – even if the news is bad – goes a long way in helping employees through mergers and acquisitions


orporations enter into mergers and acquisitions in an effort to grow the company, acquire clients or increase profits. While M&As may result in greater market share for these companies, it’s important to be aware of the employees’ perspective. M&As can be a time of confusion and uncertainty for workers, reducing employee morale and threatening the success of the M&A. “Potentially dangerous things could be happening that you’re unaware of, not anticipating, or even ignoring on the employee level,” says Dan Stockdale, author of Helping Employees Through a Merger or Acquisition.

down and across the organization,” says Deborah Barrett, author of Change Communication: Using Strategic Employee Communication to Facilitate Major Change.

Communicate, communicate, communicate
Think of uncertainty as the enemy. If employees are uncertain, they cannot and will not perform to their fullest potential. It is important to foster ongoing, consistent communications before, during and after an M&A to avoid uncertainty, maintain employee commitment and help employees through the process. A 1998 report by Hewitt Associates, Mergers, Acquisitions and Joint Ventures: Critical HR Success Factors, found communicating with employees early, often and honestly is considered essential for M&A success, with 57 per cent of organizations surveyed identifying employee communication as a critical contributing factor to the success of the transaction. In her book, Barrett highlights five primary goals for effective employee communication during major change: •Ensure clear and consistent messages to educate employees in the company vision, strategic goals, and what the change means to them. •Motivate employee support for the company’s new direction. •Encourage higher performance and discretionary effort. •Limit misunderstandings and rumors that may damage productivity. •Align employees behind the company’s strategic and over-

Develop a plan
The change management team should develop a strategy of how and through whom information should be filtered to employees. The following questions should be addressed: •Who are you communicating to? •What are you communicating? •Where will communications take place (face-to-face, through e-mail, voice mail, meetings, conferences, webcasts, personal letters)? •When will you communicate? •Why are you communicating? The plan should clearly outline who will be the key contacts for information in each department and where more information will be available for employees, such as the company’s intranet or newsletters. The team should also create a strategy to measure how effective the plan is and make adjustments and improvements as needed. The team may also wish to appoint “opinion leaders,” an employee in each department who has influence over other employees and who will assist the department head with easing employee anxiety.

Build a change management team
The change management team should include management from multiple levels across all functions in the company. Some of the most important members of the team will be from HR and communications. If the company is large and multi-faceted, each department head or supervisor should be on the team. “Top-level and mid-level management must be directly involved in and assume responsibility for communications up,

all performance goals. Employers need to be honest, open and upfront about the entire process and the resulting fallout. Even though the news won’t always be good, employees will appreciate the honesty. But employers shouldn’t do all the talking. Acquiring feedback from employees through surveys, focus groups, one-onone meetings or a comments section on the M&A page of the company’s intranet can help employees feel they’re being listened to. Be sure to stay well informed of the thoughts, ideas, challenges and concerns of the employees. This will enable the change management team to better construct messages that respond to employee needs. Recognize the efforts of those who go above and beyond the call of duty before and during times of change. Recognizing and rewarding excellence in the workplace will motivate employees and keep them committed to improving their performance, even during uncertain times. Sandra Gabriel is president and CEO of SG PR Consulting in Toronto, a firm offering consulting and communications services to businesses and entrepreneurs in the Greater Toronto Area. She can be contacted at sandrangabriel@

© Copyright Canadian HR Reporter, October 20, 2008, by permission of Carswell, Toronto, Ontario, 1-800-387-5164. Web site:

PR or Perish: Why your Business Can’t Survive without Public Relations
“If I was down to my last dollar, I’d spend it on public relations.” - Bill Gates, Microsoft Founder

The key to a successful business is through your relationships. And I welcome anybody who wishes to challenge that claim. Dr. P.M. Forni says "The quality of our lives depends on the quality of our relationships. But the quality of our relationships depends upon our relational skills;" relational skills that are not only learned but come naturally to your PR consultant. Your stakeholders (the people you sell your products and services to, your employees, investors, the media and so on) are all people that you want to support your business. Every business is operational through its stakeholders and it's important to know where your relationship stands with each of them. Your public relations department has tremendous relational skills and is responsible for creating and maintaining these relationships and developing new ones along the way. The truth is that you're not perfect. Many businesses start by offering products or services that appear to be a good idea, yet they do not fill a need. One of the first things your PR department or consultant can work with you on is how to make your business valuable to your target audience. Through careful research and analysis, your PR consultant can identify the needs in your market and tailor your product or service to meet those needs. They can also develop your brand identity to one that your target audience can identify with and believe in. The same applies for larger corporations that are possibly looking to expand into new markets. Even if your product or service does not align with the needs of a new market, there is always a creative way to make opposites attract. And who will stand by your side and speak for you during times of crisis? You PR department of course. In fact, crisis communications is a specialty of the PR function. It's important to remember that if you practice effective PR before a crisis can take place, the crisis may have little to no effect on your business. When stakeholders know you and believe in you and the promise of your brand, it builds a loyalty that is not easily broken. This loyalty (strengthened through the relationships that you build and cultivate) will fight half the battle for you during a crisis. The other half is fought by how you react and respond...all of which is advised by your PR department.

The cultivation of your stakeholder relationships is managed through public relations as well. Whether it's a customer appreciation day or prize giveaways, ongoing communication with the media and being a source for them, a weekly or monthly newsletter or a mail-out to say 'Thank-You for your support" is all part of the relationship building strategy of your PR department. Public Relations recognizes the importance of keeping in touch, showing gratitude and appreciation, keeping stakeholders updated so that, not only is your business top-of-mind with stakeholders, but it let's them know that you care about this relationship and that you are doing your part to keep it going. As your business grows, there will surely be stories to tell. Stories about how you got started, the challenges you've faced, major milestones and breakthroughs, special guests or celebrities that have walked your office halls, employees who are making a difference in their communities and more. This is another specialty of the public relations function; to tell the stories that are relevant to your stakeholders. This is how they get to know more about you as a business and see you for more than the products and services that you offer. Adding that human element of story telling can do wonders for growing and developing your stakeholder relationships. Business relationships should be treated like any relationship. Before one enters a relationship they should be clear about who they are and want they want. They should then identify who they want a relationship with and why? What will be the goals in the relationship? How will the relationship function? Do there need to be any compromises (from either party) to make the relationship work? Communicate, communicate, communicate and by all means check-in. Evaluate the relationship as it goes to assure that mutual benefits are maintained and needs are being met on both ends on an ongoing basis. In sum, public relations is the personality and character of your business. It's the part of your business that allows people to engage, interact and get to know and like you. It's through your communications that people know anything about you or your business and some good PR can build a solid reputation for your business and help you to gain reputational capital. If you expect to have good business relationships, you should expect to have good PR. Don't do business without it!

PR or Perish: Why your Business Can’t Survive without Public Relations


DIY PR is as Safe as DIY Surgery
While I believe that Do-it-Yourslef PR (DIY PR) is as safe and effective as DIY surgery, I think I should still offer some guidelines to avoid tarnishing the PR profession even further. Already, we in the PR Profession are seen as flacks and spin doctors when the truth is that when PR is applied properly, you'll find that there is so much more to it than the tools we use to communicate i.e. media relations, employee relations, social media, etc. Let us first define this profession called public relations. In it's long form, public relations is the strategic management of relationships between an organization and its diverse publics, through the use of communication, to achieve mutual underst anding, realize organizational goals, and serve the public interest. (Flynn, Gregory & Valin, 2008). In simple form (and this is derived by defining both "public" and "relations" separately) public relations is the mutual dealings or connections or communications among persons or groups or a body of people sharing some common interest. So with these definitions, let's make it clear that public relations is more than our dealings with the media and writing press releases. The foundation of any PR plan is always about who we want to build relationships with and how we are going to build that relationship and what will the relationship look like or how will it function in the longterm. There's one more thing that should be made clear and that is the difference between a publicist and a public relations professional. A publicist deals specifically with the placement of stories in the media; they are also known as press agents and work mainly with celebrities and entertainers whereas the public relations professional is involved with the research, analysis, policy format ion, programming, communications and feedback from numerous publics. We operate as advisers to clients or the senior management of an organization and we are also technicians who produce and disseminate messages through multiple mediums. (Public Relations Strategies & Tactics, Wilcox et. al. 2003).

So now that we've made a few things clear, here are some things to keep in mind when attempting to DIY PR: Be careful about what you say In your attempt to be as transparent as possible, one little slip could mean the beginning of your PR nightmare. Develop, define and refine your message to avoid inconsistencies and to assure that your message is properly reinforced. Once you define a message that both you and your public can believe in, you should stick to it as much as possible; live it and breath it and only step outside the box when your spontaneous thought can still be applied in the same context of your message. Give the media what THEY want Having a relationship with the media is more than having them as a contact and telling them your story. Remember in PR, the relationship has to be mutual, so don't think of it only in terms of what they can do for you, but also think about what you can do for them. Provide them with as much information as possible: photos, videos, quotes and comments, various sources to support your story; you'll get even more points if you provide a source that does not support your story, this way you are giving them all the angles and reducing the amount of background checking that they have to do and it increases your credibility with them. But of course, you want to make sure that you can give your rebuttal to the non-supporting source, and the more you can be available as a source to them, the better your chances of creating that mutually beneficial relationship. Do your research Don't use PR tools because they seem like a good idea, use them because you know they will work. If your public or stakeholders consist of over 65 retirees that spend 90% of their time on the road traveling, it's not likely that you will reach them through the multitude of social media vehicles available to us. While social media offers the opportunity to reach hundreds and sometimes thousands of people at one time (and for free), if your audience is not a part of those forums, they will never see or hear your message, let alone respond to it. Get to know the people you want to build a relationship with and find out how best to communicate with them. Consider all audiences I can't reinforce enough that PR is more than media relations and with this being said, you should think of all the groups in your stakeholder network. That would include employees, government, industry, the community, shareholders, clients/customers and more. This way, when you roll out your PR plan, you not only know what you want to communicate, but you know who you want to communicate with and because you've done your research, you also know how to communicate with them and your message is consistent across the board.

DIY PR is as Safe as DIY Surgery


Measure the outcomes and not just the outputs. It's great to be able to say that you had 1,000 new visitors to your website or that you handed out 100 brochures and business cards in any given month, but did it change anything? Do your stakeholders have a different attitude, opinion or behaviour towards you? Are more people buying from you now than from your competition? Or have more people begun to accept you as a leader in your industry? Do you realize the tremendous effect that these outcomes could have on your overall market capitalization? It is as important to know the outcomes of your PR plan as it is to know the outputs and so processes should be put in place to assure the measurement and evaluation of your PR efforts. While I do not endorse DIY PR, most people are going to do it anyway. I only ask that you do it properly and not just according to my guidelines, but any and all and as much guidelines as possible. A PR plan based on what may seem like a good idea (without any research) does not a PR plan make.

DIY PR is as Safe as DIY Surgery


The “Investable” Entrepreneur: How to make you and your business attractive to investors
If you are an entrepreneur looking for sources of funding for your business, you have surely heard about obtaining small business loans through your bank, applying for lines of credit, and possibly, asking for funding from family and friends. There is, however, another popular source of financial support: funding through investors. According to the Angel Investment Network, a Canadian web-based service that matches investors seeking investments with entrepreneurs seeking capital, Angel investors are currently investing over $3 billion in Canadian businesses each year. “This number would be substantially higher if these Angels were better able to find and review new types of investment opportunities.” So how can one become better prepared to approach investors? What does it take to be perceived as an “investable” entrepreneur? Black Ink spoke with Joanna Track—the president of, Canada’s first online, trend-spotting lifestyle guide of its kind. Starting with a newsletter in 2004, has tripled its revenue since an investment from Rogers Communications Inc. made Joanna’s “sweet” dreams come true! BIM: What motivated you to create Joanna Track: The concept was inspired by a similar business in New York called DailyCandy. I worked in advertising and transferred to New York where I was introduced to DailyCandy . . . I found that there was nothing like it in Toronto when moved back about six or seven years ago. I always knew I wanted to be my own boss. I had a good base to take the leap and I ended up digging into my RSP to get it started. BIM: How simple or difficult was it for you to get enough people on JT: There were 600 people the day I launched, and it was through friends and friends of friends and we reached 10,000 a year later. Our first newsletter went out in June of 2004 and the first advertising sale of that year was in November. A lot of it was viral, through bartering and partnering especially with marketing help.

BIM: When you start a small business, there are a number of challenges and small wins along the way; what was the experience like for you when you first got started? JT: The challenges were big, the biggest being the month-to-month expenses and being able to pay them. But it takes money to make money. Everything costs money so [it summoned] bartering and good PR. I had to get creative on spending effectively. The wins are what kept me going. I started by sending emails to my contacts and then it grew virally as I began getting calls from companies to get featured. BIM: Tell us about the day when you got the call from Rogers. JT: Two years into it, I had been approached by other companies but it didn’t work out or feel right and I was turned off by these big companies. When Rogers came along I wasn’t [initially] too excited; I had the confidence that I can do it on my own, but partnering with Rogers could make it faster and easier. BIM: In your online discussion with the Globe & Mail you said: “I think the thing that Sweetspot has that attracted them, was a unique business model, with good profit potential. But as they told me, they were buying into me, even more than the company. I think I showed them that I had a good balance of creative ideas, and strong, effective business skills. I think at times there are entrepreneurs out there with fantastically creative business ideas, but have a challenge managing the dayto-day business operations. I was able to show Rogers I was good at both.” Tell us more about your personal brand and some of the inherent attitudes and behaviours any business owner needs to make the business work? JT: They were impressed with me. I remain very professional and at the end of the day it’s always business. Business cards and invoices are essential, even if it’s two people; and have all your financials organized and ready. Treat it the same way as if you were a large corporation. Rogers saw my confidence and organizational skills. Confidence comes from knowing your strengths or weaknesses. Know your stuff, or if you don’t know, ask somebody. BIM: How can an entrepreneur go about making themselves more attractive to potential investors? JT: Have the confidence, looked polished and professional and not just aesthetically, but also in substance; keep your financials in order, have your business plan ready. The business plan gives you a starting place and you need to have a vision and a revenue plan. In a few bullet points you can outline [your] vision, mission, how you operate, and how you make money.
The “Investable” Entrepreneur: How to make you and your business attractive to investors P.2

YES YOU CAN…go digital: A look into Obama’s digital campaign
On November 4, 2008 Senator Barack Obama was named president-elect of the United States of America. While there were many forces at play to help Obama win the election, marketers will tell you that it was all due to his wide and robust digital marketing campaign. In fact, he has been Advertising Age’s marketer of the year for 2008. President-elect Obama won the vote of hundreds of marketers, agency heads and marketing-services vendors gathered at the Association of National Advertisers annual conference. According to a blog post on Triple O (short name for Obama’s Online Operations) he took advantage of most of new digital tools like facebook, Myspace, YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, Digg, LinkedIn, Eventful, FaithBase, BlackPlanet, Eons, Glee, MyBatanga, MiGente, AsianAve and Party Builder. All these tools had some sort of fan page for Barack Obama and they were used for both fundraising and for growing a community. Text and mobile messaging were also a part of the grand marketing scheme. In his article Obama epitomizes frontier of digital marketing: Ogilvy’s Lazarus at ad:tech, Dan Butch says, “Mr. Obama was the only candidate to effectively harness the power of SMS and the mobile Web.” Butch adds that Obama’s use of mobile contributed to tipping the election in Obama’s favor. Obama’s digital campaign is exactly the type of thing that is touted at our ad:tech events. For more than ten years, ad:tech has provided media, marketing and technology professionals with the tools and techniques they need to succeed in a changing digital world. As the digitization of media continually redefines the business of marketing, it is ad:tech’s mission to provide brand advertisers, agencies, portals, online publishers and technology providers an unparalleled forum – one that supports the exchange of ideas, experiences, new practices, emerging models and expert opinion.

Mike Amour, Chairman & CEO of Grey Global Group says, ad:tech is the most inspiring digital marketing forum I've found. It's an efficient way of keeping current, networking with premier practitioners and spawning ideas.” There couldn’t be a more opportune time to implement a digital marketing campaign. Tough economic conditions threaten to diffuse traditional marketing campaigns, but, Becky Charles, author Marketing Digital Leagues 2008, says, “Digital remains a strong growth area and is propping up the media market.” According to the Internet Advertising Bureau, Internet ad spend grew 21% year on year to reach £1.7bn in the first half of 2008. In value terms, online has grown by £2bn in three years and is forecast to hit £3.6bn this year. In her keynote at ad:tech New York, Lazarus advised that we need to spend in new ways, to engage people to share, to move, to motivate. Lazarus says, “This is a time of enormous creativity and possibilities, and we must lead our industry into the digital future. If the next president of the United States can do it, so can we.”

YES YOU CAN. . .Go Digital: A look into Obama’s Digital Campaign


KidStarter makes PCs Fun and Safe for Kids
New software allows young children to safely use any PC on their own, while giving parents complete control over the content their kids see. FREE 30-day trial available at Toronto, ON July 22, 2010 -- In recent studies conducted by Brilliant Software Inc., parents with young children said they were concerned about their children's activities online, but didn't always have the time to spend with their children on the computer. KidStarter ( takes care of these issues by giving children an easy-to-use Windows Desktop environment that allows them to play and explore without getting into trouble. KidStarter only gives kids access to their own safe and secure desktop, with all websites and programs just one click away and pre-approved by their parents. The software also comes with a built-in daily timer that allows parents to control how long their children spend on the computer each day. “With KidStarter installed on the family laptop, I feel comfortable letting my 5 or 3-year-old play alone on the computer.” says Sean Snider, an IT manager. “I am confident that they won't be able to get into trouble or go to any sites that my wife and I don't approve of. One of the best features is that there aren't any more fights to get them off the computer once their 30 minutes a day are up, KidStarter takes care of it for us.” “It saves valuable time for parents and they don’t have to constantly watch over their kids,” says Greg Valiquette, VP Brilliant Software, makers of KidStarter. “KidStarter keeps your children and computer safe and you don’t have to worry about them deleting files, downloading viruses and visiting sites that they shouldn’t.” Valiquette adds that, “monitoring your children’s activities through KidStarter is one thing, but parents should also talk to their kids about online safety and ensure that they have an ongoing conversation with their kids.” Parents can download a FREE 30-day trial at ### About Brilliant Software & KidStarter KidStarter is the newest product in the Brilliant Software line of products. It gives children a safe, easy-to-use environment where they can only use programs and websites that are parent approved! With KidStarter, the parent is completely in control and can rest assured that their kids are safe using the computer. A fully functional FREE 30-day trial is available at If you require a longer reviewing period, please contact Brilliant Software for a complimentary software license key at Brilliant Software is a software company driven by experienced professionals who create and deliver high-quality software both independently and for large corporate clients. For more information, visit Co ntact: Greg Valiquette, VP, Marketing and Business Development Brilliant Software Inc. | Tel: (416) 887-3908 | Email:


Verb Strategy Completes Revamp of CABJ Website
(Toronto, ON) January, 18, 2011—Verb Strategy & Creative (Verb), Toronto marketing agency, recently completed the revamp of the website for the Canadian Association of Black Journalists (CABJ). “We needed a website that visually communicated our vision and satisfied the end-user experience with fresh and up-to-date content and resources,” said CABJ president, Michelle Lynch. “The new site needed to serve as portal to the association and we needed a way to allow for real-time member renewal and registration,” added Lynch. Dean Lloyd, principal at Verb and project lead of the CABJ website revamp, notes that the website needed more focus and direct call to action. “The purpose and messaging of the website was unclear and user benefits were not apparent,” says Lloyd. “We wanted a contemporary design that offered a quick glimpse of the wealth of information and resources available through the homepage as well as control the amount of content that appeared on the homepage without being overwhelming.” The websites new user interface design allows information to be displayed only when requested by the user, making the website less cluttered and more user-friendly. Another key area of the website development was the Content Management System (CMS) that would allow the association leadership to easily manage and update the content on demand. “We chose WordPress for the CMS as it is easy to use, search engine friendly, it allows for multiple users and there is no issues with spamming,” adds Lloyd. “The added value to the website and our service is the member management component that provides the CABJ with a number of tools that is vital to their growth plans.”

The member management plugin is said to give the association the ability to create free, trial or paid membership levels, content view is controlled depending on the level of membership, the plugin integrates with shopping cart systems like PayPal and the CABJ admin team can see a list of members, their registration status, membership level and more. “We are so pleased with the finished website,” says Lynch. “We’re looking forward to the facilitated communication that we’ll have with our members and the ensuing growth as a result.” - 30 About Verb Established in 2001, Verb Strategy & Creative is a Toronto-based, marketing and branding agency, serving clients in Canada and US. They show measurable return on brand investment to clients by specializing in multicultural marketing and building brands for small, medium and large companies and providing a range of strategic and creative services. About CABJ The Canadian Association of Black Journalists (CABJ) is a Canadian media industry association whose vision over the last fourteen years has been dedicated towards the diversifying the media through developing and mentoring students and professionals of various cultures and ethnicities, while increasing the number of talented individuals in front line roles and decision making and management level positions. Press contact: Sandra Gabriel Chief Relationship Officer Gabriel PR (416) 907.2560

Verb Strategy Completes Revamp of CABJ Website



New Fitness Challenge to be launched in Toronto
(Toronto, ON) February 9, 2011—Ayanna Lee-Rivears, Founder of SocaCize Fitness Inc., an exhilarating Caribbean workout, recently announced the upcoming launch of the SocaCize Fitness Challenge; a 6-week work-out and meal plan guaranteed to help participants lose 10lbs in less than 3 months. “I’m so excited that we’re finally launching this program,” says Lee-Rivears. “We’ve been planning this one for some time and we’re looking forward to working with the participants to help them realize their weight loss goals.” Registration for the SocaCize Fitness Challenge will open at the end of February 2011 and kicks off in Spring 2011. Participants will attend an info session regarding nutrition and also meet with an image consultant to get educated on how to dress for the season in their new bodies. “The unique part about this program is the empowerment factor,” adds LeeRivears. “Aside from being a simple workout program with a meal plan, we want to educate women on style and fashion as well as help them build self-confidence and self-esteem through the style and beauty advice offered with our image consultant.” Participants receive a SocaCize Fitness Challenge booklet with their workout schedule, meal plan, recipes and area to record your measurements, post before and after pictures and an area to journal the journey through the challenge. Sponsors in beauty and fashion are also invited to submit their ads or coupons that will be included as part of the package. The SocaCize Fitness Challenge comes not a moment too soon as the Heart & Stroke Foundation recently released a report on Canadians health which warns that nine out of 10 Canadians are jeopardizing the quality and length of their lives. “We believe that if more Canadians engaged in a regular cardiovascular program, the threat of things like heart disease and certain cancers would be drastically reduced,” comments Lee-Rivears. “We highly recommend our SocaCize workouts as they have the perfect combination of cardio, strength training and fun to get more Canadians on the path to healthier lives.” The SocaCize Fitness Challenge will be offered in Downtown Toronto, Scarborough and Brampton. - 30 –

About SocaCize Established in 2000 by Ayanna Lee-Rivears, Fitness and Dance Instructor, SocaCize is a creative blend of high/low African and Caribbean dance movements performed to Calypso, Soca, Zouk, Reggae and Dancehall music and drumming. The exhilarating mode of the work-out also focuses on cardio, weight and strength training and targets all age groups.Visit for more information Press contact: Sandra Gabriel, Chief Relationship Officer Gabriel PR | (416) 907.2560 |

New Fitness Challenge to be launched in Toronto

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BACK ON TRACK 416.907.2560 25 Sheppard Ave. West, Suite 300 Toronto, ON M2N 6S6



What is Public Relations?
Public Relations, for some time, has been perceived as a function dealing primarily with the media or media relations. Our theory is that one doesn’t really get exposed to all the inner workings of a PR department, until it is pushed through the media. This is only a partial explanation as to why PR is largely associated with media relations; but whatever the reason, we must not forget the brains behind the media relations outfit. The Canadian Public Relations Society defines Public Relations as the strategic management of relationships between an organization and its diverse publics, through the use of communication, to achieve mutual understanding, realize organizational goals, and serve the public interest. (Flynn, Gregory & Valin, 2008). 1 Therefore, a successful PR plan should not rest solely on earning a number of media hits. The two key ingredients in any public relations initiative is, your public and the relationship you have with them. Simple enough? Not quite; not for many.

The Public Relations plan vs. The Communications Plan
Our definition of the public relations plan is the overarching umbrella plan on how you will build and sustain YOUR public relationships over the long-term and focuses on measuring outcomes i.e. public attitude, perception and behaviour. The communications plan drills down a little further and gets more specific about the particular types of communications you will employ to engage YOUR public and focuses on measuring outputs i.e. the number of presentations delivered, the number of sales calls made, social media metrics, website analytics and more. The goal for a PR plan, for example, would be to begin to build a relationship with a particular stakeholder group or to improve client relations, investor relations or social media relations whereas a communications plan goal would be to attract more attention to the website or to create an e-newsletter that will create sales leads. You public relations plan will embody a communications plan to build and sustain YOUR public relationships over time.

Who are YOUR public?
YOUR public consists of: clients or customers, employees, investors, the media, social media groups, the government and more. Effective public relations requires that you get to know your audience; know their needs; know what media they read, listen to or watch; know what they think about you; know what they expect from you; know how to communicate with them, what moves them to action and causes them to turn away, thus making YOUR public the driver in your R.A.C.E.

YOUR public map

Source: Gabriel PR, 2010

R.A.C.E. is an acronym used in PR (similar to the 4P’s of Marketing) to lay-out the foundation of the PR plan: Research & Analysis, Communication and Evaluation. Following these four steps will enable you to create an effective PR plan for your business and produce extraordinary results. How is the relationship with YOUR public? In public relations, the emphasis is on the relationship. Keeping an ear to the ground (listening) and monitoring public attitudes, opinions and behaviour is the guide to creating your public relations plan. Dr. Margaret Wheatley, organizational consultant and management professor says, “through relationships, information is created and transformed, the organizations identity expands to include more stakeholders, and the enterprise becomes even wiser.” Dr. Gina Hernez-Broome and Dr. Richard L. Hughes at the Center for Creative Leadership agree that, “relationships among customers and suppliers, individuals and the organization will make or break us in the ‘networked economy.” If you want to measure the status of your relationships, we recommend building a Relationship Measurement Process (RMP) that allows you to continuously collect and monitor feedback from YOUR public on an ongoing basis, so you are prepared to respond to any issues that may arise.

Relationship Measurement Process (RMP)

Source: Gabriel PR, 2010

Research & Analysis: don’t start planning without it!
We live in an “information society” with a wealth of information at our fingertips 2 which means that there’s a lot of information right under our noses, without having to spend the majority of your PR budget on research. Feedback from YOUR public can be collected through a number of mediums: case logs from customer service and sales calls, emails, interviews, focus groups, your website and those of your competitors and industry associations, your twitter and facebook accounts, google searches, media coverage, the employee suggestion box and the list goes on. Wherever you get your information, it’s important to know where you are coming from, before you can map out where you want to go. Ask yourself: “Where are we now?” and begin to take the steps to look into what messages you’ve been communicating and what kind of response you have been getting to those messages. In their book, Using Research in Public Relations 3, professors Glen Broom and David Dozier say, “research is the controlled, objective and systematic gathering of information for the purpose of describing and understanding.” Broom and Dozier quote Blair C. Jackson, a former PR executive from Rogers & Cowan, Inc. saying:

“The most compelling reason for using research is to make sure that your program is the best it can be—that what you are doing is as “right on” as it can be. You will be confident that you are addressing the right audience, that you are using the right messages and that you are focusing on the right perceptions or attitudes. Evaluation research will tell you whether or not it works.”4

The Research & Analysis Process
1. Identify a research problem What is the problem you are trying to solve? Have sales been too low in this quarter? Are you not seeing as many visitors to your website? What group on your public map does this problem apply to? 2. Research design Where and how will you find the information? In your research design, you should be open to getting your information from any combination of sources: Google searches, literature/book reviews, focus groups, surveys, twitter and facebook. 3. Develop research strategy Your strategy will include the goals, objectives, timeline and budget available to carry out the research. This is where you will also identify the individuals on the research team including the research project manager. 4. Generate data Now you are ready to carry out your research strategy and generate the data necessary to determine a solution to your problem. 5. Analyze data This is where you will take a look at the data and identify any glaring statistics or correlations. For example, you might find that there was quite a bit of negative feedback on one of your products which resulted in lower sales or that 15% of those who did not buy your product last quarter, also lost their jobs. What an amazing opportunity to build a relationship as you can now create a promotion to have a sale on your products or create a direct mail campaign to send coupons or gift cards to those families who can’t afford your product for the time-being. 6. Produce report Lastly, put together a report that will outline your finding and recommendations to solve the problem which gets the ball rolling on your communications plan.

Research methods and tools
The most commonly used methods of research today are survey’s, focus groups and textual analysis. Tools like Survey Monkey and Poll Daddy are popular in conducting survey research. Focus groups can include anywhere from 3 to 10 people and are usually carried out in a boardroom setting. Refreshments can be provided and focus group participants are normally paid between $50 to over $100 depending on how much of their time is used. Textual analysis is simply reading books, articles or essays. Databases like Lexis Nexis and Factiva are used to find articles relating to specific industries or categories.

The Communications Plan
Your communications plan will guide you as to what communications or communications activities need to take place to achieve certain goals. Communications is not only about your messages and what you will say, but it includes where and how you will receive messages from YOUR public as well as, what internal communications need to be altered to carry out this plan, or what advertising or website changes do you need to make. Consider all aspects of communications at the stage, both internal and external.

Set S.M.A.R.T. objectives
Create a plan with objectives that are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely Specific: What do you want to achieve specifically? Increase in sales, more facebook fans? Or reduce your carbon footprint? Measurable: To make an objective measurable, you simply need to attach a number to it. Gain 100 new customers, move 1,000 more units of product, add 200 more twitter followers. Achievable: Are these objectives that you can achieve in the time required and with the budget you have available? Realistic: Can you realistically achieve these objectives or are they far fetched? Timely: By when will you achieve these objectives? In 6 months or 1 year?

Develop key Messages
It’s important to set out some clear messages and statements in relation to your communications objectives. Determining your messages before-hand will assure that you will always know what to say and when to say it. These messages should also be made clear across all your communications, whether it’s on your website, in a brochure, the employee intranet site or in a presentation.

What’s your strategy?
Your strategy is a high-level overview of what your plan will be. A strategy for a business launch might be to introduce the business to the local community by holding a launch event, continue to meet prospective clients and promote the business in the 6 months following the launch and keep your company top-of-mind through ongoing communications.

Tactics: communicate, communicate, communicate!
Tactics are a more detailed and fleshed-out plan of exactly how you will carry-out your strategy. Using the business launch example your tactics would include: Launch Event • • • • • • • Identify potential customers in the local community Create a mailing list of potential customers Create invites/e-vites announcing the launch Book venue for event Collect gifts and prizes to give away Invite guest speakers Create form for post-event feedback

Ongoing Communications • Develop editorial plan of email marketing campaign • email blast series • news and media releases • blogs • Newsletter Grow Customer Base • Identify and schedule to attend networking events • Apply for public speaking opportunities

Team, Budget & Timeline
As with any business related plan, you need to determine the people on your team, your available budget and you need to map out a detailed timeline.

Make sure you are using people who have strengths in each aspect of your plan. Your team might consist of a project manager to oversee the entire plan, a skilled copywriter/copyeditor for your communications, a graphic designer to design your website or marketing materials and a social media specialist to manage all your social media tools.

What will it cost to roll out this plan? Consider costs for design, printing, distribution, the hours contributed by your team, event venue, catering and audio-visual if necessary. Always add an additional 10% to 15% to your budget for miscellaneous expenses. Your project manager controls the budget and assures that it does not go over what is available.

Setting deadlines and milestones is crucial to the success of your communications plan. Your timeline will help you keep track of where you are and what needs to be done on any given day, week or month. Milestones let you know when you have reached major points in your timeline. Booking a prominent speaker or acquiring all sponsorship dollars necessary would qualify as key milestones in your plan. Your project manager will be responsible for making sure the team stays on track and short-term goals are achieved.

Just like your research, evaluation needs to be planned and analyzed. It’s one thing to generate monitoring reports, but what do these reports tell you about your company and the way you’re doing business? Planning your evaluation means determining what you’re going to measure and how. Your evaluation tactics should also relate directly to your plan objectives. For example, if your objective was to increase website visits by 10% in one month, then you would plan to generate a web analytics report and focus on unique visitors for the month. What does it mean when you don’t meet your objective? It means that whatever you set in your plan to generate more website visitors did not work and that it’s time to return to the drawing board. This is exactly what your evaluation is intended to do. The evaluation phase gives you a clear picture on what works and what does not work.

There is a great deal of emphasis on the importance of relationships and the communications that take place to create and build those relationships. It is equally important to assure that you are speaking to each group in YOUR public map through the mediums they prefer and using the language and messages that will have the greatest impact on them. Public Relations encompasses more than media relations. Public Relations considers all audiences and uses any number of communications tools and strategies to create and build relationships. Where other functions of your business contribute to the bottom line, public relations takes a focus on people and goes beyond the bottom line.

Communication Plan Template


Key Messages




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Tactic Month 1 Month 2 Month 3


Retrieved from on July 29, 2009. The Canadian Public Relations Society Inc., 2010

Frey, L.R. et al. (2000) Investigating Communication: An Introduction to Research Methods Needham Heights, MA, Allyn and Bacon
2 3 4

Broom, G. & Dozier, D. (1989) Using Research in Public Relations, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, Prentice Hall

Wilcox, D. L. et al. (2003) Public Relations Strategies and Tactics 7th edition, Boston, MA, Allyn and Bacon

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