Hot smoky meat on the street

That’s a picture of an Portugese street festival held in the Mile End neighbourhood of Montreal in August. It was snapped by Kate Hutchinson, a Montreal photographer who’s being patient and professional while taking some great pictures at our conference this week. And we all know how hard it is to take great pictures at an academic […]

A strategic approach to government and corporate blogging

Wow. If Simon Dickson is right, the folks at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the U.K. are about to blow government blogging right open. And maybe even corporate blogging. Forget restricting your corporate blogging to just C-suite executives. Opening blogging to everyone? Fine for tech companies, but not very workable for CPG companies. How do […]

Are skateboarders more saavy than social media experts?

What’s the link between social media and skateboarding? Sometimes, social media experts will strike really poor bargains for their services – just like the early boarders who performed for stickers, decks and gas money. I mean, in what other industry would thought leaders trade their hard-built reputation for a free camera, cellphone, iPhone or a […]

A note on critics, and other 45 year old observations

Today, a few excerpts from Colin MacInnes‘ 1961 compilation of essays, England, Half English. First, a cutting observation about critics: “…This declaration was scornfully refuted by a columnist in one of the grimmer dailies whose special talent – being himself bereft of any marketable notions about such fragments of our world as his myopic eyes […]

Small business marketing and the ass kicking machine

Really. An impressive ass kicking machine. On Craigslist. With a picture. At the tail end of the description, the machine’s master craftsman has thrown in this pitch: “Oh and If you need any remodeling done I have 10+ years experience and my own tools.” There you go: the key to success as a small business. […]

Mass Observation – the Science of Ourselves

This appears to be a record of some early public history or public opinion research. Browsing through a university library, I picked up Britain by Mass Observation, a small Penguin book that reported on the results of “man on the street interviews,” day surveys and personal diaries compiled by volunteers. It’s an interesting read: one […]

Colin McKay, spokesperson at large

Yes, that is me quoted in the Globe and Mail about productivity tools and GTD. If you subscribe to the “treeware” version of the paper, you also get a four column picture of me, taken by Bill Grimshaw, a funny guy who really likes his job. In the picture, I’m holding my Moleskine – and […]

Write here, write now – insight into a town

The write/here project was a public art project conceived by Tasmanian artists Justy Phillips and James Newit. Part of the Ten Days on the Island Festival, it asked the residents of Hobart to pass along stories of their life in the capital of Tasmania. Eye magazine tells us the artists convinced local businesses to donate […]

The KKK as multi level marketing organization?

The newest paper from Steven Levitt and Roland Fryer: “…Rather than a terrorist organization, the 1920s Klan is best described as a social organization built through a wildly successful pyramid scheme fueled by an army of highly-incentivized sales agents selling hatred, religious intolerance, and fraternity in a time and place where there was tremendous demand.” […]

Short Sentences

Short sentences that both amused and enlightened me: “Older people are sticky” That’s from a New York Times article about social networks that are targeting the older sundeck set, via Advergirl. “Mad as a box of snakes” Part of the introduction given to Irma Boom, the book designer, by Simon Waterfall, the president of D&AD. […]

It’s alllliiiveeeee!

Well, bit of a breakthrough at my office. A government blog. I’ll blog and/or write about it when I have the energy, but thanks to the great support of my team and my bosses, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner has a blog. That’s right. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner has a blog. Why […]

Social media glitterati in Ottawa – Third Tuesday

Another season of Third Tuesday Ottawa social media get-togethers opens with a sought-after star: Mitch Joel. You may know Mitch from such previous work as his Six Pixels of Separation podcast or his Twist Image blog.Mitch will kick off this year’s Third Tuesday Ottawa season on September 25. A kick you in the ass kind […]

It’s not you – it’s me, baby!

You may not have noticed, but my blogging volume has slowed lately. It’s not because I don’t love you. It’s not because I’m growing tired of blogging. It’s not a question of quality over quantity. And it’s certainly not because I’ve had a crisis of conscience and am considering a career in law, because that’s […]

Crisis advice from the Duke – YouTube

Opposition party operatives have always trailed candidates during elections – Canadian as well as American. As technology has become cheaper, the level of data collection has increased. Just ask former Senator George Allen. It’s the YouTube primary. Even Duke’s in the game. Today, he offers advice on how YouTube could help Senator-in-limbo Larry Craig get […]

What movies taught me about public relations

Some say skill is a gift; some say it’s learned; others say it’s earned. In my case, it’s all osmosis. I picked up everything I know about marketing, communications and public relations by watching movies. School of Rock – never let a lack of formal education or professional accreditation keep you from seeking employment in […]

Hard Work and a Grudge Pay Off

It’s been a good day. Wrote up a note, had it translated. Posted it on the website and linked it to a couple of documents. We made a few calls, got a print story, a radio phoner and an influential blog reference – all in three hours. Oh – and it helps to have an […]

There’s nothing subliminal about cherry pie and pipe

You know, sometimes I think that YouTube channels may detract from a brand’s value. Take SonyBMG, for instance. Everytime I watch, you know, an actual licensed music video that has been posted by SonyBMG, I am reminded that Warrant’s Sweet Cherry Pie is their most viewed video. It’s right there in the “More Videos from […]

Contagion tends to work through word of mouth

For my purposes, the contagion is the “flip your house” epidemic. It seems that constantly rising house prices, overinflated housing markets in some cities, and the ready availability of credit and adjustable-rate mortgages has not only resulted in ill-considered real estate investment, but in a flood of television shows that over-simplify the benefits (and understate […]

I’ve splet something wrong

Design the copywriter’s birthday card. They said. And writethedesignerschristmascard (in the comments). Both at Noisy Decent Graphics, and both extremely funny.

My family goes way back with flavour modification

Sixty years ago, my grandfather was writing articles for magazines like Canadian Business and Saturday Night magazine. Here’s an excerpt from a 1947 article titled “It gives Steaks a Lift!” – a report on the new miracle flavour enhancer, monosodium glutamate: “… It is not likely that M.S.G. will become a standard household commodity. For […]

Sweet, sweet retail honey

Ahh. The joys of retail marketing and management. Customer flow through. Seasonal promotions. Retail merchandising. Customer service in a retail environment. Andrew at Northern Planner has a wonderful post brimming with notes, observations and comments about the retail environment. I’ve picked out on of the more boring observations, if only because it touched on my […]

Ra Ra Rasputin will make Morrissey his b*tch

While I’m a very big fan of 80s and early 90s British pop – the Smiths included – I have to say that I prefer bands that don’t drift into wallowing and self-indulgent drones. Which is why, in the musical battle of the moment, I side with Boney M. Not the Smiths. Not Morrissey. May […]

Adidas campaign and Rugby tripped up by media boycott

Zinedine Zidane. The Rugby World Cup. The New Zealand All Blacks, perhaps the best rugby team in the world. A nice public relations campaign organized by Adidas in France to build awareness and create an opportunity for French fans to meet a soccer god and rugby behemoths. Too bad some of the largest news agencies […]

My blog’s WELL bigger than yours

An amusing song – if a little racy and rude. My blog’s WELL bigger than yours, by AsaBailey, and reshot using YouTube clips. via Punk Planning and Planner’s Delight

Skepticism, opportunity and fear in social media

David Bradfield has read my (admittedly small) mention in PR Week US, and asks: “I figured it would be a lively and insightful dialogue, but skepticism seems to have outweighed opportunity (again). Is this really the case?” Yes, Virginia. This is the case. Not just in Canada, however. The world has separated into three tribes […]

That traffic ticket WAS unfair

Your obsession is justified: that cop DID pick on you. A study of ticketing records in Massachusetts reveals that local police officers and Sheriff’s officers tend to levy more and higher traffic fines on out-of-town drivers. Unless the town depends upon the hospitality industry for a living. This from Political Economy at Any Speed: What […]

Oh, the sweet, sweet irony

“‘Death by Chocolate’ cookies could be hazardous…Bella Cucina’s Death by Chocolate cookies contain walnuts, which are not declared on the label and could be hazardous to anyone with nut allergies…” ( And that’s why the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has issued an allergy alert about the cookies. Interesting sidebar: this allergy alert has created problems […]

Cabbage Patch tell-all

Have you seen the new Geico ads? Some ad pros don’t like them, and I have to admit that they don’t do anything to push me towards signing up for car or home insurance, but they are amusing in a post-mod sort of way. I mean, a “whatever happened to” based on the life of […]

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