As part of her opening keynote for Toronto Technology Week, High Road Communications co-founder and president Mia Wedgbury (my boss) showed a video with Jay Goldman of Radiant Core, Mark Relph of Microsoft Canada (High Road client) and Ken Nickerson of iBinary talking about their view on tech in Toronto and what we can do to promote the region as a centre of excellence. Here’s the video that I uploaded to Soapbox. For Mia’s perspective, see here.
Today is my seventh anniversary of immigrating to Canada. It’s a good day to say thank you to the unknown customs officer at Pearson Airport. I wish I had asked for his name.
On March 21, 2000, I anxiously stood in the customs lineup with a suitcase, a backpack and a list of things to be shipped later.
When the officer saw that I am a new immigrant, he smiled, shook my hand and said “Welcome to Canada! Glad to have you here.”
Some people may dismiss this as a little Wal-Mart greeter type of gesture. It wasn’t. It made a world of difference to me. Since this is supposed to be a PR blog: I don’t think anybody could have done better PR for the country than this customs officer.
Thank you, Officer. And thank you, Canada. I am glad to be here, too.
[Cross-posted from the High Road Blog]
IT World Canada just announced that it has acquired IT Business Group from Transcontinental. That means ComputerWorld Canada and Computing Canada will be part of the same family. For how long? IT World Canada confirmed seven lay-offs in the press release but added there would be “no additional personnel changes as a result of the purchase”. No details yet on the future of all the publications and digital brands. IT World Canada’s president Andrew White made the following comment:
“Over the coming weeks, we will be finalizing the integration of the companies, and reviewing the product portfolios for future synergies. In the meantime, we will maintain all existing properties and work with our clients to ensure a smooth transition over the coming weeks and months.”
The acquisition will strengthen IT World Canada’s position in the market (I am especially interested to see what kind of digital strategy the combined powerhouse will embark on). Depending on the extent of the “future synergies”, it may also leave the Canadian IT community with less opportunity to get business technology news from different media sources. This begs the question: will we see another media company (or blogging network) step up?
Maybe one of the large American technology business sites will consider creating a Canadian site to get a share of the local online advertising dollars. Red Herring announced some kind of Canadian presence a while ago. CNET already operates international sites in Asia, Australia and several European countries. It has all the technology infrasctructure in place. Why not hire a few journalists and add Canada to the portfolio (again)?
Or will we see even more independent bloggers and news sites pop up in Canada? Former National Post tech reporter Mark Evans is blogging away with his two tech blogs and a podcast series (together with Kevin Restivo). On the telecom/VoIP side, we have people like Alec Saunders and Jon Arnold covering the community. And there are many more.
IT World Canada is positioning itself for long-term success as an important voice in Canada’s thriving technology community. With more editorial staff it has the chance to provide even more breadth and depth in coverage. But there is room for more voices – corporate or independent.
Read the press release here.
Looks like May and June will be busy months for tech people. After ICT Toronto recently declared the last week in May to be “Toronto Technology Week” (featuring mesh, BarCamp and the Canadian New Media Awards), Red Herring today announcend the launch of Red Herring Canada and its own tech conference in Montreal from June 13 to 15.
“With Red Herring Canada, we will help shine a light on a whole new crop of Canadian technology innovators who deserve more recognition.”
Joel Dreyfuss, Editor in Chief, Red Herring
I haven’t seen any details beyond the standard press release yet. But that’s good to hear. There are already a number of great events and awards for technology innovators in Canada, for example CIPA. But we can definitely use more help. Welcome to Canada, Red Herring!
After CNW Group asked a few Canadian PR bloggers to put ads on their blogs, the bloggers started a discussion amongst themselves about the ethics of it all. I’ve been watching it from the sidelines. Here is my perspective.
On a personal blog it is an individual decision. If your employer knows about it and let’s you have income from those types of “other sources” and you don’t mind ads on your blog, why not?
Does an ad on a personal blog automatically mean that this company is a preferred supplier for the agency the blogger works for? I don’t think so. At High Road we leave this specific type of vendor decision (based on factors like value, price for reach and quality of service/support) up to the individual account managers or client preference.
Do I respect PR bloggers with ads less or more than others? No. Respect and credibility still depend on the content of the blog post. I am also willing to give any PR blogger the initial benefit of doubt that they are able to a) be transparent and b) separate the advertising and editorial sides. If you are in PR and work with publications every day, the differentiation should be a no-brainer. And if you actually endorse the company that’s advertising on your blog or in a comment (like Michael OCC did here), that is okay, too, in my books. It comes down to credibility, transparency and trust. Maybe I am wrong but I think I’d be able to see through a fake endorsement. If Michael has genuinely had a good experience with the service and/or the company, why not endorse it? Blogs are biased. The great thing is that I can comment on his blog and give him a mouthful if I disagree.
I’d be interested to get an update from CNW and/or the participants on whether or not the campaign was a success in terms of click-throughs. One question I have is how much of an influence these debate postings have on the campaign? How many people only clicked on the ad because they read one of the disclosure or debate postings? Frankly, I might not have noticed (or cared about) the banners without the blogging debate about whether or not to have an ad. Again, I found this debate interesting because it was new to us here. But – for a successful campaign on a PR blog -is it necessary to come up with a debate/dispute in the content section to promote the ad?
As for CNW Group, I say good on them. They are trying. You’ll never please everyone. But when it comes to social media we are all still in a glass house, and there is plenty of room for CNW to join us…
What I would have liked to see with this campaign is more relevancy towards digital marketing and social media. I am not saying every blog ad campaign has to be about blogging. In Ed Lee’s comment section CNW’s Laurie Smith says:
“Our goal is simple: to better showcase our expanding services to the people who matter most to us – wherever they may be.”
That doesn’t necessarily mean services relevant to social media and blogging. But it would be an advantage if you are targetting PR bloggers, especially if CNW believes that understanding blogs and social media is a differentiator versus competitor CCN Matthews (I am guessing that’s partly the intent).
Again, the slogan “are you a player” didn’t make me click, David Jones’ blog posting about him putting the banner on his blog did. So I’d say to Laurie: mission accomplished – kind of sort of.
I might have clicked without “indirect encouragement” if the ad would have told me that CNW offers something that helps me survive in this new world of PR, for example podcasting services and a podcasting portal. Okay, I knew about podcasting already. But only because CNW came for a visit to High Road Communications recently. I don’t know if those capablities are widely known within the PR and Corp Comm community already, and – at least at High Road – we keep doing more and more on the podcast front for clients.
Or what about CNW’s “multimedia news releases“? In 2004 they were already half-way to a social media press release – the 2006 hypephrase of choice for PR bloggers. A couple tweaks of how the content is presented, linked through and tracked, and this could have been made into a social media press release offering-plus-ad-campaign.
Or, if MediaVantage is the key offering for the ad campaign, I would have liked to find out more about blog monitoring within this service (I don’t use MediaVantage so I don’t know if it has this feature; but it might have made me play the game for a free trial).
Or how about creating and advertising a free Web app that provides keyword-based custom RSS feeds for content posted on CNW’s site? Right now there are already feeds for ALL releases in English and French. That’s a lot of news in one feed. But if I could create one that only shows me releases of software companies in Canada, that would be neat. And if I saw a banner for this service on Dave Jones’ blog, I’d click it and add the custom feed to my Live.com feeds. And I’d be impressed by CNW.
So, all in all a good start. Keep going, CNW. And when will we see CCN Matthews ads?
Finally, from the PR blogger perspective, this whole debate has been one big transparency and ethics lovefest. But from now on, just do it. Or not. Ads or no ads, I will still read you as long as you are transparent and your content doesn’t suck.
The mesh conference is back. That’s good. What I would really love to see at the next mesh conference is a panel on gaming and virtual worlds. Since getting “a better understanding of the impact of new developments online” is part of the mesh conference mission statement, I think we’d be missing out a huge part of the latest online developments without it.
When I look at our consumer and interactive entertainment divisions and what kind of new work has emerged due to these online developments, and then I think back to the ancient times where I typed program code for games into my Amstrad computer or my friend’s Sinclair ZX Spectrum…we’ve come a long way! And yet it feels like the real deal in online gaming and virtual worlds hasn’t even started yet.
Being in the PR industry, I agree with David Jones that a PR panel at mesh would be nice. But if I only had one vote (not that I have any vote in it), it would go to online gaming.
Last year only one Canadian company made it into the top ten, this year there are five. In addition, Canada claims the top average growth of all North American regions. To download the full list and ranking, go here.
-The National Post – Canada’s tech firms outpacing U.S. ones: Half of the top ten companies in this year’s Deloitte Fast 500 are based in Canada
-ITbusiness.ca – Name, rank and number: Shane Schick puts it into perspective
Here are “Canada’s Top Five Fast 500“: