Claiming This Spot

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Strategic Messaging: It’s Not All About Looking Pretty

Protecting the planet. Against animal-cruelty. Beauty with heart. How many cosmetics companies can you name with these core values and more behind their brand? I can only think of one.

The Body Shop puts people, animals, and the planet first in everything they do. Their key strategic messages are simple enough:

  1. every product is made with all-natural, raw ingredients (100% vegetarian)
  2. products are community fair-trade certified from around the world
  3. against animal-testing and cruelty

Pride. Equality. Humanity. These are established and meaningful ideas that resonate with us as human beings. Strategically, The Body Shop uses their key messages to strike a cord with us on a human level, something that many companies miss the mark on. Tie that into consistent and easy-to-understand branding and you’ve got yourself the coveted “sells-itself” product


The devil’s advocates out there would say “The Body Shop promotes all of these humanitarian issues and all-natural branding as an easy way to make money, which is all they care about.”

Obviously The Body Shop wants to make money. It has to make money. But what’s the harm in doing some feel-good things along the way to create a better brand? If anything, there’s more harm done if they don’t do something creative and feel-good. It helps that The Body Shop is actually supporting the issues that they are affiliating themselves with. Otherwise, their key messages wouldn’t be key messages, let alone relevant ones.

But this is how The Body Shop does it well.

  • Awareness – The Body Shop creates basic awareness through it’s products and packaging, and retail options.
  • Motivation – The all-important WIIFM principle (What’s In It For Me?) is obvious in their values.
  • Instruction – “Sign the petition to stop animal cruelty”, “Support a 3rd world community just by making a purchase”. Basically cues to help customers invest in the cause that they want through the product.
  • Action – Offer rewards and discounts combined with the purchasing support. In this case, The Body Shop has a Love Your Body Membership. This gives further incentive for customers to continue supporting your cause.
  • Habit – Traditional and online media channels can help with this. For example, The Body Shop engages their brand ambassadors (usually a lot of Body Shop-loving customers) while using social media.

Being a thrifty and emotionally-driven millennial, I’m all for a company that gives me more than I expect from a shopping experience. The same can be said for the rest of modern-day civilization who are also looking for a cosmetic free of chemicals and additives (Awareness). The Body Shop may not be inexpensive, but I don’t feel as bad spending extra to support great causes and build a relationship with a company I feel good doing business with (Motivation). I once bought some of their Tea Tree facial products so that I could make a purchase and then I could donate part of my purchase to a cause of my choice: I saved polar bears that day (Instruction). And on top of it all, I get points that will give me further discounts to purchase more products at a reasonable monetary value (Instruction & Action). Now, The Body Shop products are all I use in my face-cleansing regimen and moisturizing (Habit).

In other words, it’s a win-win-win for The Body Shop, the ever-conscious customer, and the world. Not necessarily in that order.



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Marketing to Millennials

Millennials (ages 18-33, approximately) are stereotyped as being lazy, arrogant, and carefree. Young people are obsessed with the idea of becoming instantly famous, which contributes to the growth and popularity of social media with this generation. Impatience is prevalent and expectations reflect this.

Millennials are the largest generation in the United States and a huge market for companies to tap into. If anything, millennials changed the marketing game by being so attached to the online world. Because of this behaviour, companies had to make a very quick transition to selling product online.

That’s all old news now; the real question is what are millennials going to dictate next? The general attention span of a millenial is limited, but they are aware. Transparency is very important to this generation. I mean, I think transparency is important being at the tail-end of that generation. Since millennials have become more conscious spenders, they see through any gimmicky marketing techniques that attract their attention. Therefore, it isn’t enough to use traditional marketing marketing techniques and slogans; creativity and original content that creates conversation is idea. Building relationships is a key concept here. Converged digital marketing is a great example on effective online marketing to millennials.

But first let’s determine how a millennial makes a purchase decision.

Some studies say that millennials continuously spend more than they make and other studies say that millenials are frugal and careful with their money. Personally, I think it’s a bit of both, with a slight lean towards the latter. Millennials like to enjoy life and don’t see anything wrong with spending some money for personal use. However, the middle of the generation experienced a huge economic downturn in North America during the 2008 recession. I believe that this period of time made millennials more aware of how current spending could affect their future options.

There are two factors that I take into consideration when making a purchase: quality and incentives. I have great relationships with businesses that value me and provide me with a product that makes a difference in my life. And there’s not much more to it than that.

And here’s my favourite infographic that sums up marketing to millennials.

Millenial blog infographic

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The Types of Marketing You Should Be Investing In

My first thought when public relations professional, Leona Hobbs, started talking about converged digital marketing was “Oh great, a new lesson on something that doesn’t sound interesting.”

I never knew I could be so wrong about anything.

Converged marketing is a group of strategies used that encompass the pillars of content, community, and commerce. These strategies are executed across paid, owned, and earned media. Throw in the word “digital” and you really got something.

The idea that strategies can be used as paid, owned and earned media resonated with me. So far, I’ve learned to promote, brand, and communicate either on a large or small budget without having to pay for media attention. Otherwise, you create your own content. I had always thought that I was never allowed to use paid media strategies and tactics. In fact, successful campaigns combine all three strategies to achieve the desired outcomes. The photo below gives example of tactics and where they overlap with other strategies.

Something else that caught my eye during Leona’s presentation depicts various tactics that can spark a target audiences rational or emotional thoughts. This is one of the most straight-forward graphics that I’ve ever seen that actually tells me what I’ve been itching to know.

graphic 1

The immediate task was to find a product, company, or brand that exemplified the very image of converged digital marketing. I quickly researched Lululemon because I thought they had a relatively solid converged digital marketing through their blogs, websites, ads, and events.

My final point of learning for this segment was the concept of influencer relations. It’s common knowledge that companies try to find customers and then earn their trust, like a “friend”. But some content never get to the “friend”, or customer. So how do you reach your customers online? Apparently there’s a simple theory, although the execution could be tricky: influencer relations. Find the people who are already “friends” through their brand. These people could be bloggers, and it is the company’s responsibility to maintain a good relationship with the blogger so as to tap into the blogger’s friends. Indirectly, the blogger’s friends become your customers. I knew that companies do this occasionally for product placement and reviews, but I never knew how to do it and find the best blogger.

graphic 2

Also, Piktochart is awesome.

The sad thing is that all of what I’ve said is less than half of what Leona taught me that day. It seems that Leona is a fountain of knowledge in the public relations field.

Anyone have any other thoughts on converged digital media, tactics, or influencer relations?


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My Attemped Mantra

I finally took some time to make my own personal mission, vision, and values to help guide me through the rest of my career and life. I found it difficult to start; but when in doubt, work your way backwards. So I started by listing my values, then the vision, and finally the mission.



To live a healthy, balanced, and present life that allows me to pursue knowledge as I continue to problem-solve and develop lasting relationships that encourage others to improve their skills.



There are a few activities I love to do that specifically help me unwind from the world temporarily: reading excessively, walking with my best friend, and running for the sake of leaving it all behind. And between it all, I take a photo to cement time. Continuing these parts of my day will help me achieve a healthy and ambitious mind, something that  I have now and want to continue to have heading forward.

When I am moving through the day, nothing gives me more confidence and sense of than knowing that there are people counting on me and that I can make a positive difference in each individual’s life. Making sure that I maintain these relationships in a healthy way with the people I love most is what I want the most.

I want to lead people, and I know I can lead people. Participating is the foundation for any team, and I’ve always tried to encourage others to try something new, like sports. This is something that has helped me in life, and I will continue to challenge others to test their own limits. Waiting for opportunities to find me is not ideal anymore, and I will make my own opportunities.



  • Intellectual challenges and constant learning
  • Candor and honest expression in both work and personal life
  • Balancing a healthy mind and body
  • Encourage others to improve upon their passions and get involved
  • Being able to problem-solve in any situation

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Only Canon Can – A Sustainability Analysis

I recently just purchased a Canon Rebel T5i as an amateur photographer. It occurred to me that I didn’t really know a lot about the Canon as a company. I took the opportunity to research more about something that is very valuable to me when dealing with any company: Corporate Social Responsibility.

So as you can imagine, I was pleasantly surprised when I found out that Canon is ranked 13th on the Forbes list of Companies with the Best Corporate Social Responsibility Reputations. They have an influence in a variety of topics, including:

  • Enriching lifestyles and society
  • Arts, culture, science (space exploration), sports
  • Business, fair work environments and operations, customer care
  • Humanitarian support for those in harsh environments and locations
  • Environmental impacts and conservation

What I found quite interesting was what happened when I clicked on their FY2014 Sustainability Report on their CSR Activities page. To download it, I was prompted to give them an idea of who I was. I checked the boxes “Customer” and “Student”, and there were other options to choose from. What Canon wants to do is  figure out who is soliciting their services (in this case it is the Sustainability and CSR reports) and customize these reports to cater to the appropriate audiences. Also, companies often have trouble collecting, measuring and analyzing data. Canon can now take these quick surveys and determine a vague customer base and statistics for their websites to pitch to their executives. A win for Canon without being annoying about it to customers.

They even have a full survey you can take after reading their FY2014 Sustainability Report offering your opinion to a variety of topics and features. “Can-tastic“!

The actual report was well written and had headings that were easy to follow. The report is written for investors and social auditors that want to know more about the internal projects of the company. Headings titled “Contributing to the Promotion of Both Enriched Lifestyles and Global Environment” make me feel as though the company is doing something worthwhile and outstanding, even if they are doing similar practices as other companies. Another title I loved was “Contributing to Society through Business Activites” because the title offers a suggestion as to how Canon contributes through society in an active and genuine tone. Also, each subsection of most sections had a photo of an executive related to the written content. I found this to be comforting because I could put a face and job title to the cause they were supporting.

Speaking as a pretend investor, I would find not only great facts, but great enjoyment when reading Canon’s 2014 Sustainability Report. One thing that gave me a sense of unity was evident through stakeholder quotes and stories on various pages, no matter how extravagant the stakeholder was. For example, one of the stakeholders was a kindergarten teacher in Japan.

CSR Canon - executive and small stakeholder

I was also able to find some recent topics of Canon in the media throughout the report, like the one below. This shows me that Canon is an active member of the community and encourages growth in their employees.

CSR Canon - topic, award in the media

Safe to say, I could continue extensively on the subject of Canon. Some may say that I have a biased opinion of the company because I am a customer. However, I was a customer before knowing anything about the company. It was only after I started this investigation that I found a sense of pride for the company and can offer such a positive review. The company makes the report believable, genuine, and relatable by including their customers, culture, and beliefs into their report to accompany the facts. Therefore, I believe in what they say and I believe that their report has an influence on their business, as it has also influenced me. But that may be because of me writing about it off-and-on for the last 5 hours.

What company are you most proud of?


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Branding Barney’s NY

It was hard to pick just one example of great brand journalism from Barney’s. So I’m going to highlight some features on their blog, The Window, that show their creative thinking and interactions.

Barney’s New York creates their own content and posts it on The Window. This blog has become a community for Barney’s.

In addition, they highlight their team of employees and show their passion for fashion all while making their content convenient and shareable. The blog contains information like Videos, Personalities, and doing stories on their clothing lines like the Brothers, Sisters, Sons & Daughters Spring 2014 Campaign where all of the models are transgender. Barney’s stories usually have a small video made specifically for each story.

Also, Barney’s did a Christmas window display in 2013 that had a mannequin dressed in a luxurious gown in a shiny and festive setting. The catch: Everything was made out of foil coffee bags and disposable cups.

So why is this so groundbreaking?

It’s original. It’s seasonal chic. And it’s a great conversation piece. The best part is that Barney’s used this across their blog and other online platforms to generate interest. Another company could technically do the same thing, but Barney’s has the claim of doing it first and doing it well. Visual is key to making this idea work.

And what’s more visual than an Illy espresso machine as a headdress?

Barneys-New-York-window display

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Hewlett-Packard Press Kit

Whether you’re hosting an event, releasing a product, or laying off employees, as long as it’s newsworthy then you want it published by the media. But how do you get an edge over other companies that are trying to do the same thing and still get all of the important information in the hands of the media?

Media kits, people.

It took me some time to find a media kit online that I thought was worthy to share. This is probably because media kits are not called “media kits” online. When I searched this term, I ended up with packages of promotional newsletters, photos, and statistics of bloggers and websites trying to prove that you should buy ad space or give them content. I finally figured out that when searching online, the alternative term for a traditional media kit is “press kit“.

Now that that’s all said and done, the online press kit that caught my eye was Hewlett-Packard’s (HP). The page immediately lists all of the press kits that HP has published and switching from press kits to news releases to news advisories is simple. What stood out was the sheer size of the press kit and what was available to me as I imagined being a media representative looking for a story. Here are some examples of what was offered in the HP Discover Las Vegas 2014 press kit from June 10, 2014:

  • Synopsis of what happened at the event
  • Related or earlier press releases
  • Date, address, contact information of venue
  • Multiple news advisories and fact sheets (one for each new product)
  • Supplemental resources include blog posts, brochures, case studies, data sheets, solution briefs, white papers, partner information
  • Product and event images
  • Websites, video links, social media outlets
  • Executive biographies

So. Many. Resources.

In a way, I was almost overwhelmed. I chose this press kit at random, and it turned out to have a lot of information. Since HP was in Las Vegas to promote and introduce new products at a large event, I’m not too surprised by the amount of added information. However, all of the multiple pictures and documents had clear titles and the page was organized very well. I investigated the other press kits, and most were smaller depending on content and were organized similarly with a synopsis at the beginning.

My only recommendation for HP: make your press kit titles more interesting and clear.

Needless to say, HP’s kits are going to be my go-to for creating killer media kits. What are your favourite press kits?

hp logo