You are currently browsing the Engine Communications posts tagged: public relations

Are Your Staff Marketing for the Competition?

Sometimes it really doesn’t matter what you do when it comes to advertising and marketing if your front-line staff aren’t clued into how important they are to your business.

Today’s point of interest:

So, hankering for a burger, I drive up to a popular fast food window.

Me: ‘I’ll have a burger with everything except pickles and tomatoes’
Girl: ‘Do you want cheese on that?’
Me: ‘Oh, no thank-you’

I drive up to pay.

Window opens.

Girl talking to fellow employee: ‘I think I’ll go to McDonalds.’

I’m not at McDonalds.

Girl to me: ‘Debit?’
Me: ‘Yes’

Passes me machine.

Fellow Employee: ‘I had their new chicken sandwich’
Girl talking to fellow employee: ‘Oh ya? Is it better than ours?’
Me: Trying to hear answer. Missed it. Lol
Fellow Employee: ‘It’s that new one. Really good!’

Girl to me: ‘Here’s your drink’
Girl talking to fellow employee: ‘I think I’ll go get fries and nuggets’
Girl to me: ‘Thanks’ (hands me my burger)

I drive away, shaking my head. Open my burger with 2 slices of cheese on it. Eat it anyway cuz I was starving.

Will I go back? Yes, I like the burgers, but seriously? Who’s minding the store??

Do you include the importance of customer service, being ‘present’ and share your marketing messages in your staff training?

These are the types of things that we investigate when we’re working on #Marketing Strategies for our clients.
It’s about looking at the Big Picture. Ask us how we can help your business or organization.

~ Laura Brasseur
Marketing Director p: 613.771.0090 tf:1.855.571.0090

How can I increase my open rate on enewsletters?

There are a ton of elements you can vary to try to entice more of your subscribers to open up your emails. Here are just a few things you could try:

  • Experiment with your subject lines: Try including details about the content of the email right in the subject line, instead of using your standard subject.
  • Send on a different day: Are your subscribers too busy on a Wednesday morning to read your email, leaving it languishing down the inbox? Maybe a Tuesday afternoon email would be welcomed.
  • Get the important content up the top: Remember that many people will see a preview of your email before deciding to open it or ignore it. Make sure your email is recognizable, and that your key points are in the top third.

Get custom designed enews templates and systems from Engine Communications >

April showers bring PR Disasters?

Spring is a time of birth, renewal and PR crises it seems. Sony, Facebook, and a NHL player, agents and broadcaster are in the midst of protecting their image.

First up: Sony Debacle (here too)
Sony has been dealing with hackers stealing their users’ information. Sony has terribly managed the situation. It took them a week to notify their customers of a breach (7 days too late) and two weeks for the CEO to apologize (13 days too late).

Aside from debacles, a great article on how to use social media within your corporation: Implementing Social Media in Business

Sean Avery, his agent, and an NHL sportscaster (now fired) get embroiled in the same-sex marriage debate. Twitter can cause controversy quickly, and lose you your job. Always think before you Tweet!

And to round things up:
Facebook pays a PR company to send bad news and reports about Google to bloggers. Too bad the agencies forgot to tell the bloggers that they were working for Google… oops!

Great Campaigns Produce Great Results

As a fan of the Song of Ice and Fire series of books by George R. R. Martin, I have been watching the development and promotion of the new TV series: Game of Thrones, with a keen eye.

HBO’s promotional campaign is great example of a successful integrated marketing campaign. From seizing the throne, to free bicycle throne rides events and then integrating it with a Facebook, blog and Twitter campaign, HBO had a great promotional campaign.


They placed giant throne replicas around major cities like New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Then, people got their picture taken which were then posted on Facebook and Twitter as “seizing the throne.”

This strategy is great for many reasons. First, giant thrones in a major public area will create attention and buzz from traditional media and word-of-mouth. Second, posting the pictures on Facebook gets people to spread the word to family and friends which further promotes the new TV show. Third, people will then post and talk about these events occurring (such as this blog!)

These promotions were highly successful judging by the 4.2 million viewers who tuned into the first episode.

Although HBO had a large budget, they used it efficiently. By showing these events across all possible mediums, they used their dollars wisely. Make sure you do the same when planning and promoting your events.

Tumblr: The next Star?

Recently I have begun to experiment with a new (2008+) and growing media tool: Tumblr. The tool combines Twitter and Blogging to create a “micro-blog.” Instead of short posts on your WordPress or Blogger account, you post small updates on your Tumblr page. These updates can be larger than Twitter’s 140 character limit, but users are encouraged to keep updates small. Multimedia can be uploaded to a page directly, much like a blog or a Twitter pic link.

Tumblr wants you to Save Twitter for short links and updates, blogs for longer discussions and Tumblr for longer than Twitter updates but not long enough to merit a new blog post.

On one extreme there are blogs (long, in-depth) and the other extreme is Twitter (short and shallow). Tumblr strives to hit the golden mean and let users post medium posts, enhanced with embedded multimedia.

My favourite feature is the news feed, which standard blogs do not have and acts just like the Twitter feed. Users can “reblog” their favourite posts directly from the news feed.

Does it work? From what I have seen so far, Tumblr is easy to use and is quite unique. If it was not for their technical instability I think Tumblr would be the next big social media platform.

The instability means that users can never know whether their posts will be posted or lost. They won’t know if people will even be able to access their page when Tumblr servers go down. Tumblr will not continue to grow if users become frustrated with technical glitches.

Tumblr is a neat tool and has a vibrant community if they can fix their issues I can see it becoming quite popular. I definitely recommend checking it out and see if it is useful for you and your organization.

Is Tumblr the way of the future, or is there some other site out there that is thriving and growing? Let us know what you think. You can check out my work-in-progress Tumblr at:

Physically Represent your Brand

As we say on our website “a brand is a powerful collection of perceptions in the mind of a consumer.” Although your brand image depends on what your consumer thinks, you can do many things to help foster a positive brand image.

A relatively easy way is to start from where you do business. Whether you are a manufacturer, small business, multinational or creative business, your location can make a lasting impression. A great location will convince people of your mission and your passion.

A great example is the BMW headquarters (seen in the YouTube video). The tower was designed in the shape of four-cylinders, which alludes to a four-cylinder car engine.

Also, as I begin interning here at Engine, the first thing I noticed is that they take their mission to heart. Positioned at a railway station, the constant rumbling, horn-blasting and bell-ringing remind me that we are here to drive businesses toward success.

It really makes a lasting and great first impression on both consumers and employees. Take a look at your business, or your place of employment. Does the location reflect your mission?

Troy is currently interning at Engine Communications as part of his Loyalist Post-Grad PR Program.  He likes anything to do with PR, social media and technology.  A UWO graduate, he is always looking at new ways of doing things. His blog can be found at:

Presenting…The EC Interns!

It’s April, which means that the sun is shining, the birds are singing, and students everywhere are celebrating that school is almost over. I say “almost” because we here at Engine are pleased to be working with three dynamic, talented interns from Loyalist College, for the month of April (just before graduation). We love working with the college, and are excited to be able to collaborate with them once again. Jerika and Laura hail from Loyalist’s Advertising program, and Micheal is a post-grad Public Relations student. They were awesome, and put together small bios to help me introduce them to you.

Without further ado, let me present the EC Interns!




Jerika has over two years of experience in marketing and communications…Well, in the Advertising Program at Loyalist College that is. She will graduate in June 2010, and wants to focus her career in communications. She’s energetic, a real people person, and a go-getter. Jerika loves to travel and always wants to learn new things.




Laura Wallis is a small-town Manitoba girl with big ambitions. She moved to southern Ontario 3 years ago with the hopes of becoming a writer, and found her calling in the Advertising Program at Belleville’s Loyalist College. After graduating in June of 2010 she hopes to stay in Belleville and find a job in the industry. In her spare time she enjoys  daydreaming and chatting with her family back home in the prairies. With a previous certificate in Web and Graphic Design, Laura has a lot of experience in front of a computer (preferably a mac).


A charismatic, energetic and passionate student, Micheal has just completed his fifth and final year of college, with Sales & Public Relations as his majors. Micheal has a passion for jet skiing, billiards, cooking, baking and a full body glass of Cab Merlot; or even a rich Shiraz. His wide range of skill



sets including a vast knowledge of customer service, a broad knowledge of Adobe CS4 and a creative mind accompanied with top-notch writing skills, makes him an asset to Engine, and any team that he has the privilege of working with.

We plan on keeping these guys very busy! They’re already working hard, and we’re looking forward to a great month with them.

Make sure to follow them on Twitter: @JerikaBradford, @ellewallis and @MichealBMcCaul.

Welcome to the team Jerika, Laura and Micheal!

CARE Canada: International Women’s Day

2010_iwd_logo_rgbWe all know that I’m an advocate for non-profit organizations that focus on social justice. Being in PR and marketing, I’m always interested to see what new, innovative methods non-profits are using to communicate their messages, and champion the needs of their clients.

One of my favourite non-profit organizations to watch is CARE Canada. Last year, I was fortunate enough to interview their President, Kevin McCort, an incredibly passionate, creative leader in the field. Kevin and his team stepped up to the plate in a big way recently in Haiti, partnering with Oxfam and Save the Children to create the Humanitarian Coalition. Jointly, they raised over 13 million dollars to bring aid to those affected by the earthquake.

CARE’s work extends far past disaster relief. Their mission is to fight poverty through the empowerment of women and girls in developing nations. Using education, economic development, health care and HIV/AIDS programs, as well as disaster and conflict relief, CARE Canada is working with communities around the world to achieve their goals.

The results are inspiring, to say the least. You can imagine my excitement when I was contacted by their Communications Manager, Kieran Green, who wanted to give me the scoop on their plans for International Women’s Day!

International Women’s Day, held annually since 1911, on March 8, is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. To kick it off tonight, CARE is hosting the 1-night-only Canadian premier of “Half the Sky Live”, inspired by the best-selling book by Pulitzer Prize winning journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. It features live musical performances, celebrity commentary, and chronicles the struggle of poor Ethiopian women who overcome sexual violence and discrimination. It’s the first time a non-profit development group like CARE has commercially released a film to both entertain and raise awareness of a global issue.

On Monday, March 8, CARE will be celebrating International Women’s Day with an innovative awareness campaign. I’m going to let Kieran tell you about it:

With our focus on empowering women at the core of our poverty-fighting work, International Women’s Day is a natural fit for CARE for spreading the word about our work, and about the importance of women in the fight against global poverty.

This year we were looking for something that could be both a symbol, and also a simple activity for engaging Canadians, and raising awareness about International Women’s Day. We thought about the red ribbon for AIDS, the pink ribbon for breast cancer research, and about the wrist bands other causes have adopted. We wanted to do something in that vein, but at the same time unique and attention-getting.

Then we remembered the old folk tradition of tying a string around your finger to remind yourself of something you don’t want to forget. The idea was born. So for International Women’s Day we want all Canada to wear the string as a reminder of all the things the women of the world have achieved, and of all the things that are yet to be done.

It’s easy to do – you don’t need to buy a ribbon or any special equipment. Just cut a piece of string, or wool, or yarn, or ribbon, and tie it on your finger. And it’s not just for this year. Our dream is for the string to become the globally-recognized symbol for International Women’s Day year after year.

How fantastic is that?! Taking a familiar tradition (the “awareness” ribbon), and giving it a unique twist (the “reminder” string) is such a cool idea. It’s easy, the audience understands the concept, and through the use of social media, people can become a part of the campaign in ways that just weren’t available in the past. Through Facebook and an interactive Flickr album, supporters will be able to take part in this initiative in a deeply personal way.

A mentor of mine once said to me, “Everyone wants to be heard. Everyone wants to be loved. And everyone wants to be part of something bigger than themselves.” CARE Canada’s International Women’s Day campaign fits this bill. We’ll be taking part. Will you?



Why We Should All Be a Little More Like Steve Nash

nashI’ll admit, I’m not a huge sports fan. I think Sunday’s match up between Canada and the USA in Olympic Men’s Hockey, was the first time I’ve watched a full, televised game…Ever. But before you start throwing sweaty gym socks at me, I have to admit that I really, really enjoyed it. How could you not?! I can finally understand why sports is such big business.

Hockey aside, I’m not totally ignorant as to what happens in the world of professional sports, and who the players are. One name that’s always stood out is Steve Nash. I know he’s an amazing basketball player. I know that he didn’t even start playing basketball until he was in eighth grade, and that at a mere 6’3″ he beat the odds in terms of making it big. I even know that he’s a five time All-Star and two-time NBA MVP with career per game averages of 14 points and 7.6 assists. That’s right.

But when I picked up February’s Fast Company Magazine and saw him on the cover, I was intrigued. What business lessons could I learn from an NBA player?

It turns out that there aren’t many lessons we can’t learn from Steve. This reluctant “anti-brand,” household name, holds up in his off-court ventures as well as he does on the court.

Here are my Top 10 reasons we should all be a little more like Steve Nash:

1. He gives 100% – No one can call Steve a slacker.

2. He focuses on opportunities rather than setbacks – The man plays pro basketball despite the odds against him, namely height and a serious back injury.

3. He trains hard – Whether physically prepping for his day job, or becoming an intern at a marketing firm for the summer to understand this side gig, Nash isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty.

4. He’s not afraid of failure – He improvises on the court, and off. The man isn’t afraid to take risks.

5. He gives back – Remember when we were talking about corporate social responsibility a few weeks ago? Steve takes “giving back” to heart. The Steve Nash Foundation is a prime example of this.

6. He’s action-oriented – Rather than simply waiting for others to do the work, he takes on jobs himself, like writing scripts for commercials, and producing his own videos. He does it all. (See #4.)

7. He embraces change – Despite his reluctance to become a “brand,” he assumed the role with zeal when he saw how much good he could accomplish by doing so.

8. He’s a new media pro star – Production company (Meathawk Productions)? Check. Viral videos? Check. Twitter account? Yup. If Nash is doing it, maybe you should too.

9. He’s humble – With so many people feeling the need to “be somebody”, Steve exudes a reluctant celebrity status, marked not by the need to impress, but to make a difference.

10. He plans ahead – He knows he’s not going to play basketball forever, and has already assumed other roles to plan for this future. Staying innovative counts.

Steve is changing the game of business by making his own rules, and forging ahead with intent and creativity. How are you changing your game?

Toronto Works for Haiti

torontoforhaitiToday is one of those days when I’m amazed by the connections, and opportunities for community building and business, that social media allows. I’m even more awestruck by being surrounded by so many people working passionately for the cause of Haiti.

Why focus on Haiti on a business blog? Because it’s the perfect example of how so many elements that we’ve been discussing in this forum (ie. social media, cause marketing, corporate social responsibility) come together to make a measurable impact on society.

Today my friend and colleague in the social media space, Sophie Bifield, introduced me to her friend and colleague, Elliot Ng. Elliot is the founder of Toronto Works for Haiti, a group of volunteers in Toronto offering professional services in exchange for donations to Haiti.

Their goal is to raise $5,000 for relief efforts before March 18, 2010.

Currently they stand at 20 volunteers with skills ranging from administrative services to professional editing,
social media marketing, and realty. There are no overhead costs, and they’re asking that all donation go directly to the organizations they support, namely the Humanitarian Coalition, the Canadian Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders. All the recipients of the goods and services have to do is let them know how much they’re donating so they can keep track of their efforts.

Founder of Toronto Works for Haiti, Elliot Ng

Founder of Toronto Works for Haiti, Elliot Ng

Here’s Elliot’s take:

After hearing about the earthquake, I felt that it would not be enough to for me to just make a donation to the charities. I asked myself, “What can I do to offer more? How can I help people in Haiti even though I am in Toronto?” On top of that, my professional background helped me put my own spin on it: coming from the business background, I understand the need for businesses, and naturally I started connecting the dots. Why don’t I try to find other like-minded individuals who are compassionate and want to mobilize our skills for this great cause? So I picked up the phone and pitched to my friends: Roxanne Chow, Katherine Lee, Kilim Park, and Mark Savel. They liked it! Roxanne gave the group the name we are using now. Katherine started creating the structure of the organization. Kilim started writing on our blog. Mark suggested ideas on how to make this idea bigger. It snowballed and the rest is history.

There are a few things I love about this idea:

  1. It raises money for a great cause.
  2. It allows small business owners to make an impact on a global scale.
  3. It creates awareness for small business, and is a great PR opportunity.
  4. It creates opportunity for collaboration, and networking.
  5. It’s a simple idea that your business could easily adopt for any cause you’re passionate about.

What do I want you to do?

  • Take some of the ideas we’ve dissected and apply them to your own business strategy. The bottom line for you is increased awareness, networking and sales.
  • Get involved with Toronto Works for Haiti or another local group like New Mercy Ministries, both to help with relief efforts, and to network with some brilliant, talented people.
  • Join the Toronto Works for Haiti Facebook group, and voice your support. Put their logo on your profile to spread awareness.

Whatever you do, make sure you act now. If not for Haiti, then for the cause you care about. Everybody wins! And you know I love a good win-win.