Sunday, December 28, 2014

Five Movies Any PR Person Will Want to Watch

It’s no secret that I’m a movie guy. If you know me even a little bit, one thing you’d leave with is probably my love for film. Cross that with my passion for PR, and we have this post. There are definitely other movies that belong in this post – fortunately, this post isn’t titled “the top 5 PR movies of all time.”

That said, if you enjoy movies and PR then read on!

Wag The Dog
The film focuses on a political spin-doctor who partners with a Hollywood producer to present a fake war. Why? It’s all in the hope of distracting the electorate from a presidential sex scandal only two weeks before the election.

Margin Call
The 2008 financial collapse is still fresh in our minds as one of the largest crisis incidences in recent history. Though you can argue this is more a movie for financial analysts, make no mistake: this is a crisis management issue that a lot can be learned from. It gives a sense of what a leadership team looks like, particularly in the midst of an impending crisis. It also sheds light into how an organization’s behaviour aligns with its value system, right down to treatment of its employees. The firm’s change management and communication techniques are also worth taking note.

Admittedly not my favourite movie, let alone superhero movie, but Jason Bateman brings the spirit that every PR practitioner should embody. Rather than simply fix a troubled alien’s reputation, Bateman’s character sets out to change the alien’s ill-mannered behaviour first. It’s a true underdog story of a PR person trying to do the right thing the right way.

Enemy at the Gates
Although this film’s protagonist is a pawn in the story’s propaganda campaign, there are still interesting ideas to pull on the topic of forming public opinion. There’s much that can be learned from propaganda used during the war, from both sides, and how this has evolved communication models.

The Ides of March

Perfect for any communicator in politics. Ryan Gosling plays an experienced press secretary for the governor of Ohio but winds up in a secret meeting with the opposing party. This encounter sets off a series of incidents that severely threaten his governor’s chances at winning the party election for a shot at the presidency. You see speech writing in action here.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Sign Your Work

Here's a post written by Seth Godin:

We expect authors, painters and singers to identify themselves, to sign the work they do.
And surgeons and lawyers as well.

What about managers, committee members, engineers and everyone else who makes something? Who made this policy? Who designed this menu? Who approved this project?

If you're not proud of it, don't ship it. If you are, sign your work and own the results. We'll know who to thank. If you work for a place where work goes unsigned (internally, in particular) it's worth asking why.

Something good to think about as we prepare to enter a new year creating things.

Monday, May 26, 2014

2014 Fall TV Previews and Predictions

Television networks have unveiled their fall lineup of new shows. Two year ago I took a look at some of their trailer offerings and predicted hits, misses and maybes. I thought I would do something similar but focusing on each network. But first…. Here are the results of my guessing game:

Hits I predicted: 
• Animal Practice (canceled)
• Elementary (on air - renewed for season 3)
• Emily Owens, M.D. (canceled)
• Go On (canceled)
• Revolution (canceled)

Misses I predicted: 
• Guys With Kids (canceled)
• Last Resort (canceled)
• Made In Jersey (canceled)
• Malibu Country (canceled)
• The Mob Doctor (canceled)
• Neighbors (canceled)
• The New Normal (canceled)
• Ben & Kate (canceled)
• Vegas (canceled)

Maybes I wasn’t sure about: 
• The Mindy Project (on air – renewed for season 3)
• Nashville (on air – renewed for season 3)
• Partners (canceled)

So now we’ll play game I’ll call “canceled or renewed”


Scorpian (drama)
Prediction: Renewed
Why: Enough character variety to be interesting, especially for back-stories. Like origin stories, character back-stories has always been a hit (e.g. many HIMYM episodes that focused on back-stories have been hits). It’s a mix of Big Bang Theory and 24, so it should be alright.

Madam Secretary (drama)
Prediction: Canceled
Why: I’m not sure why, just not feeling it.

The McCarthys (comedy)
Prediction: Canceled
Why: The jokes are not funny, the characters seem too shallow and the laugh track is relied on too much.

Stalker (suspense thriller)
Prediction: Canceled
Why: Interesting idea for a movie, but too weird to shine a light on a procedural show about stalking

NCIS: New Orleans (drama)
Prediction: Renewed
Why: NCIS and NCIS: LA seem to be doing well for themselves. It’s a safe bet to stick with a spin-off similar to the CSI or Law & Order models.

Extant (suspense thriller)
Prediction: Renewed
Why: Steven Spielberg produces, Halle Berry stars, yeah, that’s a winner. I think the question what is love is a very universal theme that many people can stand behind. Of course this makes a great movie idea, but I think it will see success on the small screen.


Constantine (drama)
Prediction: Renewed
Why: I think people will have a thing for the supernatural. Those shows seem to still be popular with cult followings (i.e. Supernatural)

State of Affairs (drama)
Prediction: Canceled
Why: Would make a great miniseries, but that’s about all.

Marry Me (comedy)
Prediction: Canceled
Why: Similar reasons to The McCarthy’s

Bad Judge (comedy)
Prediction: Canceled
Why: Reminds me of Made In Jersey, and we know how that turned out…

The Mysteries of Laura (drama)
Prediction: Canceled
Why: Just not feeling it…. (that’s a valid reason, right?)

A to Z (comedy)
Prediction: Renewed
Why: Let’s hope “The Mother” lasts longer in this romantic comedy series.


Backstrom (drama)
Prediction: Canceled
Why: No substance here.

Empire (drama)
Prediction: Canceled
Why: Just not feeling it.

Gang Related (drama)
Prediction: Canceled
Why: I just don’t see anything different from any other gang-related movie.

Gotham (drama)
Prediction: Renewed
Why: Not sure if this can be classified the same as Agents of SHIELD or even Arrow, but the direction this show is taking has everyone hopeful. Origin stories are big sellers, and to give supporting characters of the most beloved comic book hero a voice is a great path to take in storytelling.

Gracepoint (drama)
Prediction: Canceled
Why: Just not feeling it.

Hieroglyph (drama)
Prediction: Canceled
Why: Too risky to play this period piece, just not feeling it.

I Wanna Marry “Harry” (reality)
Prediction: Canceled
Why: Why?!

Mulaney (comedy)
Prediction: Canceled
Why: Using a formula similar to Seinfeld (stand-up comedian intro), it’s 20 years too late. The laugh gaffs just don’t work anymore.

Utopia (reality)
Prediction: Canceled
Why: It’s Survivor meets Big Brother, so why the skepticism if those two shows have succeeded fairly well? Maybe because the title is itself a self-fulfilling prophesy (utopia’s don’t exist, and I’m thinking a second season won’t either)


Selfie (comedy)
Prediction: Canceled
Why: So stupid. Seriously, no one is that self-absorbed. The concept is great, looking inwardly to fill our void of insecurities with superfluous online connections, but this doesn’t look relatable at all.

Manhattan Love Story (comedy)
Prediction: Canceled

Forever (drama)
Prediction: Canceled

Black-ish (comedy)
Prediction: Canceled
Why: So racist.

How To Get Away With Murder (legal thriller)
Prediction: Renewed
Why: There’s something about it that keeps you interested, perhaps its “who dunnit” feel.

Cristela (comedy)
Prediction: Canceled
Why: So racist.

So that’s my take on the big name networks. Interesting to see what will stay and what will make it past season 1 (season 3 is an indication you had a good run, anything beyond that can be counted as success – in my own opinion). What shows are you looking forward to this fall?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Will You Go Out With Them? Part 1

photo credit: CreationSwap/Kelly Sikkema

Three reasons married people should embrace a third wheel.

Recently I find myself reflecting on a topic I’ve discussed numerous times before: the art of third-wheel dating. In fact it’s not even the first time I’m writing about this topic. But now I find myself reflecting more seriously about it again.

Why so serious? Because I strongly believe there is a prime market for healthy personal growth here that remains untapped.

Hear me out, I know you’ve been there too, married people: newly married and all of a sudden disappearing from your circle of single friends and entering into a new circle of married friends. Not that there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just a natural part of life.


It doesn’t have to be all gloom and doom for your remaining single friends. I want to highlight 3 benefits for married couples to bring on a third person on their next date. So if you’re married, read up!

1) It takes the focus off of you.
Depending how long you've been married for, there may come a time when seeing a face besides your spouse will actually be refreshing. Also it’s a different dance from the typical double-dating scene, because it’s a moment to focus on one person and actually get deeper in their life. You don’t need to dwell on your own concerns when you can help someone else navigate theirs.

2) Mentorship
Older couples, I know how much you love inviting young dating couples to your house for dinner, but why limit yourself? Don’t ever lose out on the opportunity for your marriage to mirror what a loving marriage looks like to someone who isn’t there yet. It’s also a great investment if you do want to mentor a young couple. Think about it: when that single person you keep having over for dinner begins a relationship, you have already earned their trust and they will be inviting themselves to dinner!

3) Relational Insight
I mentioned taking on a third-wheel takes the focus off of you, but in a way it also helps reorient your relationship with your spouse. Maybe they said something that you think could help better enhance your marriage. Or maybe the paths they took are reminders for you to try something different as well. Who knows? The point is, you won’t really know until you have those conversations yourself. So go do it!

In Part II I will offer three reasons why single people should pursue third-wheel dates with couples. So stay tuned, and in the meantime, go on a third-wheel date!

Monday, February 3, 2014

On Carpooling

photo credit: CreationSwap

Today until Feb. 7 marks “Carpool to Work Week” in Toronto. Or at least that’s what I read on the digital highway sign yesterday. I’ve been an advocate for sharing rides for a while now, and not just because I don’t own a car myself.  I’ve been thinking about the concept of “serving” recently and I think that drivers have an advantage of serving in ways others can’t. With so many benefits to carpooling, I want to highlight just a few, to fellow church members in particular, as an opportunity to serve.

It serves visitors in our church.

One thing we discussed as to reserve the parking lot closest to the building for first-time guests. This means parking in the overflow parking section. But what happens when our overflow gets filled up? We have been blessed to welcome a dozen new members recently, but more people mean more cars. Instead of letting that be a hindrance, we can carpool and offer up more space to visitors!

It facilitates fellowship.

Outside of the Sunday service and scheduled weekly meeting, there aren’t too many opportunities to get deep with other church members. Obviously scheduling can be conflicting depending on each person’s availability, but I have found that a means of grace to catch up with someone often came in the form of sharing a ride. Whether that’s sharing a ride to Sunday service or another event. These conversations can go from the simple “how’s your week” to something more intentional like confession of sin and reconciliation. I’ve experienced both spectrums that wouldn’t have happened without carpooling.

Try getting a ride to church with a different person each week. Or offer a ride to someone new each week. You’d be surprised the conversations you’ll share.

It helps keep costs low.

For the rider it’s certainly cheaper than driving their own car, but for the driver it’s nice to have people pitch in for long drives to help cut costs.

It serves redeeming time for others.

As a transit commuter I know full well the value in accomplishing things on the go: reading, listening to an audio/podcast, meditation and even evangelism opportunities. The challenge is when the one thing you need is more time to reach the destination, not time to get things done. This could mean getting to a particular event on time,  or simply not knowing where you’re going so as to risk getting lost.

It helps develop personal skills.

Are you lazy? Do you have poor time-management skills? Navigationally-challenged? Driving others is a great way to develop core skills that carry with you your entire life. It’s one thing to drive somewhere on your own, and being responsible to helping get others there.

If you want to love others more, an effective way to do that is carpooling. It’s a great way to serve your church family and the community around you. Consider leaving the car at home and ask for a ride. Or better yet, call someone and offer them a ride. It’s not something you will regret doing.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

25 Songs Most Played in 2013

With 2013 coming to a close I thought I'd post up the 25 most played songs on my iTunes playlist. This is an unedited list, and clearly many were cycled through certain albums, but feel free to take a suggestion or two and listen to something new.

1. Prophets - A.C. Newman

2. Light Up the Sky - The Afters

3. This Is What It Feels Like - Armin van Buuren

4. The Funeral - Band of Horses

5. Shiver - Caracoi

6. Get Lucky - Daft Punk

7. Let Your Heart Hold Fast - Fort Atlantic

8. Oceans - Hillsong UNITED

9. Motion Sickness - Hot Chip

10. Sea Green, See Blue. - Jaymay

11. Moves Like Jagger - Maroon 5

12. We Are The Free - Matt Redman

13. 10,000 Reasons - Matt Redman

14. We Could Change the World - Matt Redman

15. O This God - Matt Redman

16. Good Life - OneRepublic

17. Apologize - OneRepublic

18. Honey and the Bee - Owl City

19. Dementia - Owl City

20. I'm Coming After You - Owl City

21. Embers - Owl City

22. When Can I See You Again? - Owl City

23. Back In Time - Pitbull

24. Hey Beautiful - The Solids

25. We Own It - 2 Chainz & Wiz Khalifa

Friday, September 27, 2013

Why connected transit is a bad idea

There has been much discussion in recent weeks about developing a subway line in Scarborough. The fact that Scarborough appears in the news on a daily basis now is exciting enough, but I do want throw my two cents in.

It seems the ongoing debate is whether to extend the Danforth subway line from Kennedy station into northern Scarborough, or enhance the current LRT from Kennedy to McCowan. The latter would be supporting connected transit; various modes and routes that enable you to reach farther distances. I included a picture below of the two proposals, courtesy of the Toronto Star.

Right now I have to take a bus to Kennedy and hop onto a subway. When I was commuting to school I would transfer from a bus onto a subway train, then take another bus. Other people take a GO train and then right the subway. Some take a bus, to a streetcar, to a subway. These are all examples of connected transit, various methods of travel getting you to one destination.

The problem with connected transit is in the transfer time. On a routine ride, the subway cars run like clockwork – even faster than you plan outside rush hour. The moment you get off a subway and wait for a bus, however, you could be waiting for upwards to 25 minutes. A subway line will cut that time and bring you directly to where you need to be, or at least with a smaller gap in travel if you did take a bus.

By extending the subway line you’re essentially ensuring people get home faster without clogging up space on platforms where people wait up to nearly a half-hour waiting for a bus. I speak from personal experience; it’s very annoying to emerge from a subway to find what appears to be a mob of passengers waiting for a bus (or LRT, or whatever).

All things considered, I'm glad Scarborough isn't forgotten.