Archive for the ‘Other Stuff’ Category

Dialing the noise up to Eleven… US Airways Flight 1549 and citizen media

posted by Brendan Hodgson

Yesterday, my colleague David Jones pointed to an animation created by Niall Cook, H&Ker and fellow blogger, showing the rapid transformation of Wikipedia’s entry on the crash of US Airways Flight 1549 on Jan 15. By itself, it highlighted the extraordinary speed by which citizens are increasingly able to match and, very often, surpass the speed of media in accessing and distributing new information around the incident.

As a companion to that animation, H&K Canada’s digital team also captured (as the event unfolded) screen caps of key sites – search engines, blogs, social networks, corporate sites, aggregators etc. – that I believe further demonstrates and reinforces the sheer dynamism of the communications environment in which we now exist; as it relates to the speed by which information on an incident is communicated and shared (e.g. via Twitter), the competitiveness as well as the synergy shaping the relationship between traditional and citizen media, and the actions taken by corporations to respond within this new environment.

Not all the timestamps on this slide deck are accurate or absolute, although they are certainly captured within minutes (if not seconds) of the event occuring – particularly during the first hours. Nor is the deck intended to be an exhaustive summary of all activity simply those that we felt captured this landscape, and these new issues, most effectively. Most importantly, these slides are not intended to comment either positively or negatively on the actions of authors, witnesses, posters or organizations involved.

Good judgment / Poor Judgement … what do you think?

posted by Brendan Hodgson

… in the wake of last week’s barbaric murder on a Greyhound bus. 

Good judgement… Greyhound pulls its ad

Poor judgement… Peta creates one

Good judgement… Portage la Prairie’s Portage Daily Graphic refuses to run it.

Poor judgement… Peta’s attempt to justify it: A group spokesperson is unapologetic. “Like human victims, animals in slaughterhouses experience terror when they are attacked by a knife-wielding assailant,” Lindsay Rajt explains in a statement. “We are challenging everyone who is rightly horrified by this crime to look into their hearts and consider leaving violence off their dinner plates.”

“A clever way to make a point – or extremely bad taste and terrible timing?”… You tell me.

Collin Douma joins H&K Digital

posted by Brendan Hodgson

Finding smart people who fundamentally ‘get’ how digital and traditional intersect, who have ’real’ experience  consulting with some of the largest brands in the world, who are both thinkers and doers in the social media sphere, and who have a fetish for steam punk and soviet-era posters, has never been easy.

In recent months, my colleague David Jones and I have realized just how difficult it is to find (and then recruit) that right blend of talent to add to the digital team. We’ve interviewed some very smart and uniquely experienced people who for, a variety of reasons, either didn’t quite fit the bill or were snapped up before we could make an offer. As of this week, however, we’re breathing a little easier. We’re certainly still looking - because we know the business is there – but we’re glad to welcome a new addition to the digital team in our Toronto office.

Given that many of you already know this individual, I won’t tax your patience. His name is Collin Douma. His blog is Radical Trust. And his experience, depth of knowledge, passion for digital, support for the social media community, and portfolio of work speak for themselves.

Both David and I are pretty chuffed to be able to bring his skills to bear on behalf of our clients – despite his dubious cultural addictions.

Welcome to the team, Collin.


Experienced PR Professionals wanted in Ottawa…

posted by Brendan Hodgson

Is it all about growth? That’s certainly a big part of it. 2007 was a pretty good year. But it also has to do with a combination of many other factors: new business, pending parenthood, evolving skillsets and the like. All that to say, there’s a few offices here in Ottawa looking to be filled.

So here’s what Hill & Knowlton is looking for (in a nutshell): Experienced mid-level (Account Director) and junior communications consultants with solid track records of experience and education. People who “get” traditional PR but who also get the changes currently afoot in the world of social media and the internet, and can connect the two together in ways that make sense for our clients. We’re talking team players who can think on their feet, and who can get the job done without a lot of hand-holding.

Solid writing skills are essential, as is, of course, attention to detail and the capacity to think and deliver both strategically and tactically. And in this town, bilingualism is always an asset.

What do you get in return? Opportunities to work with some of the smartest folks in the business, cool clients, beer cart every Friday, good benefits, and all the fun stuff that comes with working in a high-pressure, high-expectations environment. 

Show us what you’ve got. Send me a message via my blog, or contact Jackie King, VP Communications at jackie(dot)king(at)hillandknowlton(dot)ca. We’re also online at

Don’t be shy.

The more things change…

posted by Brendan Hodgson

Having only just re-emerged from the wilds of western Quebec after nearly 12 days of non-stop swimming, sun, insulation installation, wood cutting, frog catching, and re-connecting with family (and my own sanity), I’m glad to see the world hasn’t much changed - other than the workload that now lies before me and the Canadian digital team.

So in commemoration of my safe return, I offer you 12 things that haven’t changed in those 12 days…

  1. My fascination that social media is still so new to so many…
  2. My irritation that social media is still an “or” proposition…
  3. Facebook is still growing…
  4. My favorite bloggers are still writing…
  5. Tiger is still winning…
  6. My appreciation of cold beer on a dock by a lake…
  7. My enjoyment of Morcheeba, Pink Floyd, Carla Bruni, and Radiohead…(along with a cold beer on a dock by a lake)
  8. My passion for the printed word… (and cold beer enjoyed on a dock by a lake)
  9. My trepidation for things that go bump in the night (particularly when you’re in the company of wolves)…
  10. My disbelief that some corporations elect to ignore the negative potential of social media… to their peril…
  11. My appreciation for colleagues who share my passion for ”digital” 
  12. My capacity to use the “Turn Off” button… and be disciplined about it. 

Back to the grindstone, so stay tuned… there’s some cool stuff happening in the halls of H&K Canada… and, of course, what would be an impending election without a predictor?

Is it me, or am I the only person NOT at Mesh?

posted by Brendan Hodgson


(cue tumbleweed visual and appropriate Sergio Leone background score)

I should caveat this by saying that, while I’d rather be hob-nobbing with my fellow flacks, I’m not avoiding this gig out of choice, as I was called out to Calgary for work…

So there’d better be some serious live blogging happening!

24 hours in the life of a Digital PR practitioner…

posted by Brendan Hodgson

can be pretty darned exhausting… (that is, if it’s the job you’re looking for)

  1. Arrive at the office at 7:30 am (yeah, that one’s for the boss)… quickly scan Facebook and RSS feeds… save any interesting tidbits to Delicious.
  2. Tidy up a couple of slides articulating a digital strategy for an upcoming pitch next week…
  3. Craft a summary email outlining a social media approach for one of our larger clients… finger’s crossed they integrate it into their 2nd half 2007 planning
  4. Write a blog post for a blogging campaign we’re managing on behalf of another client (though still have to hit send on that one)
  5. Join a client meeting that includes an issues-based micro-site as part of an advocacy campaign to push an important policy issue. Start considering the information architecture requirements based on some fairly complex key messages
  6. Review some environmental analysis of a growing segment of the blogosphere and best practices of certain industry segments provided by colleagues on behalf of a client (all good stuff, thx)
  7. Respond to an email from a US counterpart on crisis and digital
  8. Scarf down a sandwich as I consider how best to structure (and then sell to our bigwigs) a potential role in our Toronto office
  9. participate in a brainstorm for a prospective client in the financial services space
  10. Attempt to bring some sense of order to the magnet of miscellany that is my desk

What does all this tell me? I need a break, the opportunities are starting to present themselves fast and furious, and we need bodies…

"Cognitive Load Theory" and the Client Presentation: Think Visual

posted by Brendan Hodgson

A message to anyone involved in creating client presentations and pitch decks: Can the bullets and think visual. 

Because new research shows – according to the Sydney Morning Herald – that the combination of written text and spoken word is more hindrance than help in getting people to retain the messages you’re trying to deliver.

Says the article:

If you have ever wondered why your eyes start glazing over as you read those dot points on the screen, as the same words are being spoken, take heart in knowing there is a scientific explanation. It is more difficult to process information if it is coming at you in the written and spoken form at the same time.

Here’s the crux, according to John Weller of the University of NSW’s faculty of education, “It is effective to speak to a diagram, because it presents information in a different form. But it is not effective to speak the same words that are written, because it is putting too much load on the mind and decreases your ability to understand what is being presented.

So no more relying on “bullets” to serve as back-up for poor pitch preparation. Science has finally proven that it can be harmful to the health of your client – or prospective client – relationships.

Hat tip to Provokat

Habits of the Highly Disorganized… "Bless your Mess!"

posted by Brendan Hodgson

“Moderately messy systems outperform extremely orderly systems.”

I think that if I’m ever fortunate enough to meet Eric Abrahamson or David Freedman, authors of “A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder“, I will buy them a drink (or more than one).

Why? Because, according to the authors, and as reported in Time, I can now take comfort in the lawlessness and general dishevelment that is my desk. No longer must I suffer the indignant glances of my colleagues, or feel a sense of inadequacy at the sight of their grotesquely sterile and well-manicured work spaces. In fact, and to my somewhat perverted delight, trying to maintain an immaculate and clutter-free zone was found by the esteemed authors to be, against all popular wisdom, counterproductive. (input smug chortle here).

“There’s a reason people tend to stack stuff on their desks,” reports Time’s Jeremy Caplan in summarizing the book, “Such intuitive organization can be effective. Not only are things often hard to find once secluded in a complex filing system, but they’re also out of sight and therefore out of mind. Those with mesy desks often stumble upon serendipitous connections between disparate documents.”

To quote H. Simpson, it’s funny because it’s true. Very often, and as I plow through stacks of paper seeking the elusive memo, strategy, or earlier draft of a messaging document, I regularly fall upon old white papers I’ve yet to read, bits and pieces of old RFP’s, draft presentations and other such caboodle. And much like Dirk Gently, the Douglas Adams character who seems always to get to where he needs simply by following a car which looks like it knows where it’s going, it often seems fortuitous that I happen to pick that particular stack (as there are many) at that particular time, as whatever I fall upon tends to offer up something useful to what it was I was working on. Perhaps it’s my own little taste of Chaos theory.

Everything is OK…

posted by Brendan Hodgson

In a world of colliding messages, where confusion reigns and we’re all shouting to be heard above the noise (or to paraphrase Emile Zola: “Live out loud“), finding a site like reminds us that there is equal, if not greater, strength in simplicity.

The power of the message is as much in the subtlety of the delivery as in the combination of words, images and links that combine context with action…

I guess the scary part will be when, on a given day, everthing is no longer ok…