The Trump tornado: threats, opportunities, and imperatives

Just like our icy sidewalks, winter 2017 is shaping up to be a slippery one as the Trump team storms into office. We can look forward to grandstanding and post-truth politics at their most virulent, as emotions and personal opinions seem to gain the upper hand over objective facts.

What do we stand to lose under this new style of politics? To what extent will we be affected by the decisions of the new controversy-loving president? And what if Trump’s methods drive certain attention-hungry organizations and brands to take a page from his playbook in a misguided attempt to achieve their ends?

A strange model

We hope that leaders will be able to resist the temptation to imitate the new commander-in-chief. How can you build trust relationships when deliberate lies and reckless statements become the new norm? Leaders—be they heads of state or corporate CEOs—should choose their words carefully and follow through on what they say. One can’t lash out at perceived adversaries without expecting to be paid back in kind. Indeed, denying troublesome facts and dismissing reporters who ask inconvenient questions is the kind of behaviour that we’d be inclined to call—in the words of Mr. T himself—“Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!”

As we all now know, we can’t underestimate the influence of Trump and his acolytes. Their trashy brand of communications clearly has a lot of followers. The question remains: will it affect our profession? If so, who will stand up to companies that play the populist game? While we wait for an answer to this question, let’s reread our code of ethics.

The coming year will be a test for communications companies and their clients. We all must hold strong. Otherwise, as Meryl Streep said at last year’s Golden Globes, “We all lose.”

Removing the muzzle

Trump’s victory is the result of a large number of people feeling ignored by traditional politicians and the media. Who knows, maybe the Trump phenomenon will help purge us of political speak and political correctness!

As we all know, however, things are likely to remain a slippery slope for a while yet (winters are often long, as you know!). But maybe this instability can encourage us to be more careful and better informed, perhaps even more engaged and more involved in debates.

Let’s be optimistic for a moment. This is the opportunity for communications professionals to speak more openly, directly, and honestly—from the heart to the heart.

In 2017, it will be more important than ever to:

  • Speak the truth
  • Base your work on facts
  • Have or be a credible and understanding spokesperson
  • Really listen

In this pivotal year, vigilance and open-mindedness are the keys to success for communications professionals.

5 Tips for Expanding in Canada

Is expanding to Canada part of your growth strategy? Canada can provide exciting growth opportunities for international companies, but you have to be ready to take on this complex market. Foreign companies that expand into Canada without carrying out the necessary preparations are often restricted by such factors as inadequate financial resources, a lack of understanding of Canadian culture and a failure to clearly differentiate their product or service.

Here are 5 tips that will help you successfully expand in Canada.
1) Do your research

While it may seem obvious, it’s imperative that business owners research how trade is done in Canada – from different labor rules to language laws to business practices.

2) Develop a leadership team

We recommend managing locally as much as possible. To ensure success, it’s vital to have leadership in the country who can swiftly respond to customers’ dynamics and competitors’ activities.

3) Find your niche

When expanding to Canada, one of the biggest mistakes made by foreign companies is relying on their reputation abroad. Counting on your way of doing business in other countries will not help you succeed in Canada. You must find your niche beforehand in the Canadian market and treat Canadian consumers as a separate market. With that being said, never price items higher than your American stores, as prices may be familiar to Canadian customers.

4) Localize e-Commerce

Create an online shopping experience specifically for the Canadian consumer. Prices should be shown in Canadian dollars with only products that are shippable in the country. Accurate taxes and shipping charges are also mandatory.

5) Understand cultural differences

Canada is a huge country with a variety of demographics and markets. Factoring in language and cultural differences only adds to the challenge. For example, Quebec is a vastly different market to Alberta. Canadians have different values and beliefs than our neighbours to the south or across the pond. Understanding these differences, even within the Canadian market, and then taking this into account for your sales, marketing and advertising is crucial. Never launch in a country without understanding how people there shop.

An additional tip… partner with a local firm to help facilitate your entry. At CASACOM, we can help you successfully expand your business to Canada. We use our experience and skills so you can better understand the Canadian landscape and markets. Contact us if you wish to discuss this further.

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8 reasons to expand in Canada in 2016

Have you ever thought about including Canada in your business’ growth plan? CASACOM has welcomed several foreign brands in Canada over the last few years in both its Toronto and Montreal offices. All of those brands have benefited from an integrated PR program and have since seen their income grow. Beyond the lucrative currency exchange rates we are currently seeing, here are 8 reasons to expand in Canada in 2016.

1. Diversification

Diversification reflects the realities of changing consumer tastes and evolving business opportunity.By expanding into Canada, alternate sources of revenue open up for a business, making it more resilient to changes in the domestic market.

2. Financial stability

For the eighth consecutive year, the World Economic Forum has professed Canada’s banking system to be the soundest in the world. According to Forbes and Bloomberg, Canada is the best country in the G-20 to do business.

3. Financial growth and market access

From 2005 to 2014, Canada led G-7 countries in economic growth. It also provides a market worth a combined gross domestic product of $38 trillion, or nearly one-half of the world’s output of goods and services.

4. Efficiency

By expanding into the Canadian market, businesses have the chance to increase output with lower variable costs. This can benefit their profit margins, cut down production costs and make them more competitive in the domestic market.

5. Low business tax costs

Total business tax costs in Canada are by far the lowest in the G-7 and 46 percent lower than those in the United States.

6. Competitive edge

Expanding internationally is vital in order to remain competitive. Choosing Canada is a logical first step due to its geographical proximity. Canada also offers a competitive R&D environment, with the lowest business costs in the G-7 for R&D-intensive sectors, with a 15.8 percent cost advantage over the United States.

7. Educated workforce

Canada’s workforce is the most highly educated among members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) as half of the working-age population has a post-secondary education.

8. Great place to live and work

Canada is one of the most multicultural countries in the world, with a universal healthcare system, clean and beautiful landscape and outstanding universities. The OECD’s Better Life Index shows Canada as best in the G-7 in terms of overall living conditions and quality of life.

At CASACOM, we can help grow businesses in Canada. Contact us if you wish to discuss this further.

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CASACOM’s Favourite Communication News & Stories of the Week

Retail:

Will Canadians be spending less this holiday season and shopping online more?

Analytics company, SAS has released new research that suggests one in five Canadians plan to spend less on their holiday gift shopping this year than last (the poll included 3,458 consumers in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Australia and New Zealand). Here are some statistics you may be interested in knowing; an infographic is included in the link below as well that highlights more of their findings.

  • Despite the growth of online retail, much of Canadians’ holiday shopping is still done in store, with 82% saying they planned to head to bricks-and-mortar locations.
  • Discount retailers were cited as the top destination (63%).
  • Department stores proved enticing for only 43%, followed by warehouse retailers (34%), drug stores (28%) and local boutiques (27%).

Infographic: ‘Tis the season to be frugal” (Strategy Magazine)

Social Media:

It was hard to miss the “Starbucks” headlines this week; from newspapers to television shows, like Ellen to thousands of comments on social media about Starbucks changing their past cups that had snowmen and Christmas trees, to a simple red with the company’s green logo. It’s been a very hot topic where some people have expressed utter outrage claiming Starbucks “hates Christmas/Jesus.”

The move was clearly a branding decision to be more inclusive while still maintaining a Christmas look and feel. So far, Starbucks has handled the situation pretty well.  Rather than putting out a formal statement, they published a blog post that explains in an even tone the history of their holiday cup designs, taking special care to remain inclusive.

How do you feel about the change in cup design in colour? Does it really matter? You can read more about this in the link below.

Starbucks’ holiday cup at the center of red-hot discussion” (PR Daily)

Press Releases:

Earlier this year, Google started putting company press releases in its news search results. Amanda Grinavich, account manager for SHIFT Communications, writes in PR News’ Digital PR & Social Media Guidebook, that Google understands that press releases are still valuable for regulatory requirements and for notifying journalists of legitimately important news. She provides four steps to make sure your press releases rank high in Google searches:

  • Step One: Create a compelling release
  • Step Two: Make sure everyone on your team is up to speed on Google’s latest changes
  • Step Three: Within your release, make sure you are linking to your business or the product name that is the focus of the release
  • Step Four: Partner with a reputable wire service that keeps track of and understands the changes to Google’s search algorithm

More details on these four steps can be found below:

How to Get Your Press Releases Found in Google Searches—and Avoid SEO Penalties” (PR News)

 

 

 

 

CASACOM’s Favourite Stories, Facts & Tips of the Week

Before enjoying this Halloween weekend, take some time to catch up on a few PR and communications tips and stories from this past week and yes, even facts on candy. Happy Halloween!

Media Relations:

Building great media lists take a lot of time, care and strategy and you should apply dedication to it like any other work or task in your job. Below are some proven tactics that can help you manage your reporter and blogger relationships and building your list the right way. Each tactic is described in more detail in the article link below:

  • Value quality over quantity
  • Check out your competitors
  • Ask before you add
  • Take the time to make personal connections
  • Stay informed about who covers your topics of interest

Five steps to creating a useful media contacts list” (PR Daily)

Brands:

Most of us have a sweet tooth and in the spirit of Halloween we thought we would share the top 10 favourite Halloween candies from a recent Reader’s Digest article. Maybe some of yours are on the list! Fun and interesting facts you might not have known about each are also included.

  • Gobstopperspumpkin
  • Nerds
  • Popeye Candy Sticks
  • Fun Dip
  • Snickers
  • Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
  • Whoppers
  • Junior Mints
  • Hershey’s Chocolate
  • Tootsie Roll

Top 10 Best Halloween Candies” (Reader’s Digest)

Retail:

According to a new analysis by consultant Ed Strapagiel, some retailers might be in for a “rude awakening” come this holiday season. Based on the most recent data from Statistics Canada, total Canadian retail sales were up only 1.4% year-over-year as of August.

Strapagiel attributes that mainly to significantly lower gas station prices, although he points out that other sectors are also “losing steam,” like grocery stores. However, home furnishing stores, shoe stores, and jewellery, luggage and leather goods stores all had above average sales gains, according to the data. You can read more about this report in the article link below.

Canadian retail growth slowing down” (Strategy Magazine)

CASACOM’s Top 3 Communications & PR Tips/Stories of the Week

Pitching:

Journalists are very busy and if you want to increase the likelihood of them writing about your company or client’s news you have to make it really easy for them. It’s important to minimize back-and-forth emailing and ask all your questions from the start. Here are what journalists want included in your pitch:

  • Why do my readers care?
  • Why is your story relevant now?
  • What’s the real story here?
  • Why did you pitch me and not another journalist?
  • What other resources do you have to make my life easier?

Each of these is described in detail in the link below:

5 pitching musts to help journalists cover your company” (PR Daily)

Consumers:

According to a new study, retailers need to rethink the shopping experience if they want to better connect with today’s millennials.

In a survey of U.S. consumers by Toronto-based retail design firm Shikatani Lacroix, nearly half of millennials said they value the experience a brand provides more than the actual product value, compared to boomers and Gen X.

The message for the retailer is you have to make the store environment more immersive and much more engaging than you are today. Below are some of the most important factors that consumers look for in a store experience.

  • Interactive: 42% millennials; 24% boomers
  • Entertaining: 39% millennials; 29% boomers
  • Rewards me for my loyalty: 36% millennials; 31% boomers
  • Teaches me something: 37% millennials; 32% boomers

More information about this survey and its results is described in the article link below.

How retailers can win over millennial shoppers (Survey)” (Marketing Magazine)

Productivity:

Everyone wants to stay on top of their tasks and obligations, but sometimes there are too many things to keep track of. Craig Jarrow, the author of Time Management Ninja provides 10 habits and strategies to help us all remember the things we need to do, whether it pertains to professional or personal tasks.

  • Set an alarm.
  • Put it on your calendar.
  • Write it down (on your to-do list).
  • Set a reminder.
  • Do it now, so you don’t have to remember later.
  • Have someone else remind you.
  • Put it on automatic.
  • Don’t say yes in the first place.
  • Have someone else do it.
  • Use your list.

Each are explained in more detail in the article link below.

10 ways to stop forgetting things—and get more done” (PR Daily)

CASACOM’s Weekly Round-up

It’s Thanksgiving weekend! Before enjoying time with friends and family and of course the delicious food, why not wrap up your week with helpful communications tips and stories from this past week. And let’s not forget to cheer on Canada’s team, The Toronto Blue Jays this weekend as they make their run in the playoffs.

PR Lifestyle:

Soccer may appear to be just a sport to most people, but you can apply certain soccer lessons to the corporate communications world.

  • Same team – don’t fight your teammates for control; it’s a reminder that this could go a long way toward breaking down silos and preventing power struggles.
  • Tell people you like their ideas – telling colleagues that you “like their idea” and then explaining why it may not work can be a good way to let them down easily.
  • Ask – “where should I be?” – what should your role be on a project.
  • Pass when you can – you never know what your co-workers are capable of, so when it makes sense, let them have the ball.

4 lessons PR pros can learn from soccer” (PR Daily)

Facebook:

Facebook’s new “Dislike” button is in the works and to get ready for the potentially rocky digital road ahead, take a look at these six ways to prepare yourself – and your clients – for potential issues.

  • Put more effort into your content
  • Don’t take it personally
  • Use a “dislike” as an opportunity to learn
  • Consider that a “dislike” might be a “like” in disguise
  • Watch, learn and test
  • Relax

You will better understand each tip in the article link below, where each is discussed in more detail.

6 Ways PR Pros Can Prepare For Facebook’s “Dislike” Button” (PR News)

Brands:

Over the last couple of years West Jest has created different pieces of content that has generated a lot of buzz for them. Many may recall the “Christmas Miracle: real-time giving” stunt. You are probably wondering what West Jet did this time?

On September 25, passengers aboard one of WestJet’s flight to Vegas had comedian Carrot Top board their aircraft when they landed. The Vegas headliner offered passengers arriving from Toronto a choice when deplaning: in the airport terminal they could take a red carpet to baggage claims or a blue carpet to a surprise adventure. Over 90% of passengers chose the blue carpet adventure. You can see what happens in the video in the article link below and what the background behind this idea was.

WestJet hopes to hit the internet jackpot with new stunt” (Marketing Magazine) thanksgiving

 

CASACOM’s WEEKLY BLOG

Take some time to catch up on communication news and tips from this past week before relaxing this weekend.

Writing:

daily-writingWe all get writer’s block. Sometimes when you focus on a piece of work for too long you get frustrated because you don’t know what to write. Here are five things you can do to push past writer’s block from Laura Hale Brockway, a regular contributor to PR Daily and a medical writer and editor.

  • Take a break
  • Get a change of scenery
  • Do something other than writing
  • Take it slowly
  • Write first, edit later

Each is described in detail in the article link below.

5 ways to push past writer’s block” (PR Daily)

Brands:

Self-service and table delivery coming to McDonald’s? Yes, you read that right, McDonald’s Canada CEO John Betts says lining up to pay for burgers will soon be a thing of the past. The company is overhauling the way it does business, adding self-service kiosks, bringing table delivery and dedicated wait staff to its restaurants by 2017.

The new kiosks will allow customers to personalize their orders as McDonald’s adds a premium-priced burger to the menu with nearly 30 different options including five types of cheese and a dozen different toppings. More details about McDonald’s upcoming service options can be found in the article below.

Build-your-own-burger option coming to McDonald’s” (Marketing Magazine)

Social Media:

Writing may be one of the most important skill that a professional communicator can have. A PR professional cannot share a brand’s message nor effectively engage with an intended audience without good writing. Michael Lamp, vice president of social and digital media at Hunter Public Relations, provides tips to make it less of a challenge and more of an opportunity. Each of these tips is further explained in detail in the link below.

  • Write like your audience
  • Complement the conversation
  • There’s a place for both the hard and soft sell(s)
  • Don’t draft and dash
  • Verbose is gross

5 Tips to Tell a Compelling Brand Story on Social Media” (PR News)

CASACOM’S TOP THREE FAVOURITE COMMUNICATIONS & PR STORIES OF THE WEEK

Media Relations:

We have all experienced sending out pitches and not getting a response from journalists. You’ve done your research, it’s well-written and the information you’re sending is newsworthy. So why don’t we get a response? Just because you didn’t hear back doesn’t mean you should give up. Below are six options that can help you redeem yourself. Each is also described in more detail in the link below.

  • Re-send the pitch
  • Rewrite the pitch and send again
  • Try social media
  • Pick up the phone
  • Look for another media outlet
  • Figure out another way to get the news out

6 ways to handle a failed pitch” (PR Daily)

Management:

CASACOM has multiple offices and teams in different cities. At times it can be challenging to manage a team when the entire group sits just outside your door. However it can be even more difficult when team members work in different time zones, cities or countries.

Heather Harder, account executive at Capstrat, a Raleigh, N.C.-based agency, writes, “It’s not just about getting the work done—it’s also about fostering relationships among teammates.” Below are some of the lessons she’s learned that may be useful to those who have teams located in multiple places.

  • Consistently set clear expectations
  • Open call policy, make time to chat
  • Chart it
  • Avoid hiding behind technology

More detail on each lesson is described in the link here.

4 Tips for Managing a Geographically Diverse Team” (PR News)

Advertising:

coffeeNHL players working at Tim Hortons? You didn’t read that wrong. NHL player Sidney Crosby and fellow NHL-er Nathan MacKinnon served morning coffee to customers in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia recently. Both are very talented athletes, but not everyone can be good at everything. It’s a fun and creative ad; you can watch some clips in the article link below:

Watch This: Sidney Crosby works the Tim Hortons drive-thru” (Marketing Magazine)

CASACOM’S FAVOURITE COMMUNICATIONS NEWS, STORIES & TIPS OF THE WEEK

This week a couple of big companies made announcements; one that affects social media and the other traditional media. You can learn more about them in our favourite communications news and stories of this past week.

Facebook:

What was the big Facebook news this week? Facebook’s co-founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, announced during a question and answer session that they are currently working on a  ‘dislike’ button and are very close to shipping a test of it. There is obviously concern about the dislike button because what the word represents and the negativity that can come from using it. However, Zuckerberg said the goal behind the “dislike” button is to make it a tool to “express empathy.” There are a lot of things that need to be worked out and what the function would be, as well as how Facebook would keep it from turning into another weapon for social media bullies.

To read more about this announcement and quotes from Mark Zuckerberg, please see article below.

Zuckerberg announces Facebook ‘dislike’ button” (PR Daily)

Media Relations:

Glenn Gillen, senior account manager at S&A Cherokee, shares some thoughts on what works when developing contacts in the media. Media connections can definitely help you get a story out to audiences and exposure for your client/brand. Here are some of his tips and described in detail in the blog link below:

  • Be respectful. Be kind to them in all your dealings and they will look forward to talking with you in the future.
  • Be responsive. Provide a way to be reachable at all times with journalists.
  • Be reliable. Deliver when you say you will deliver, and apologize when you can’t.
  • Be realistic. Not every phone call with a journalist will lead to your story being published.
  • Be a resource. This means you are someone who can be counted on for reliable information, something all journalists crave.

5 Ways to Build Relationships with the Media” (PR News)

Digital:

newspaperQuebec daily, La Presse announced this week its intention to stop printing a Monday to Friday print edition, effective January 1, 2016, but will still print Saturday editions. The decision to abandon a weekday print edition represents a major milestone for the 131-year-old publication, as it’s the first major daily in the world to go 100% digital on weekdays. You can read more on the why and some other interesting facts in the article link below.

La Presse to stop publishing weekday print edition” (Marketing Magazine)