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FH Poll Position – Issue 4


Week 4 of the federal campaign is in the books. Tumbling markets, the Duffy Trial, “deficit politics”, and a stream of party announcements dominated the coverage. Yet the “truthiness” of the campaign is seemingly coming into greater focus:  the economy trumps all; and in many ways, the campaign will again be all about Ontario.

Get the FleishmanHillard take on this week’s campaign trail activities, including reaction from Canadians, in FH Poll Position – Issue 4.


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FH Poll Position – Issue 3

With Nigel Wright and now Benjamin Perrin tilting the balance of national election coverage almost entirely to the Duffy Trial, the past week is likely to stand out as unique in the 2015 campaign. While the national race remains a three-way contest, recent polls by Léger, Abacus and CROP show shifting regional realities. The question will be whether these are temporary, driven by coverage of the Duffy Trial, or whether they mark the beginning of a new phase in the campaign.

Get the FleishmanHillard take on this week’s campaign trail activities, including reaction from Canadians, in FH Poll Position – Issue 3

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FH Poll Position – Issue 2


As we close in on the two week mark of the eleven week campaign, and with one debate now under their belts, polls continue to show a strong three-way race between Stephen Harper, Tom Mulcair and Justin Trudeau.  But most observers continue to agree that the wild card in this election remains the relative strength of the NDP.

Get the FleishmanHillard take on this week’s campaign trail activities, including reaction from Canadians, in FH Poll Position – Issue 2

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FleishmanHillard drives true integration with digital marketing hire

FleishmanHillard has announced the hiring of Max Greene as Associate Vice President, Senior Digital Marketing Director in its Toronto office. The appointment of Greene, who will provide senior strategic counsel on social and digital initiatives and paid media strategies, underscores FleishmanHillard’s vision of being the most complete communications company.

Greene brings more than 10 years’ experience leveraging consumer insights and data analytics to create solutions to complex business and marketing challenges. She has a deep working knowledge of media strategy, digital activation, social media, mobile marketing, strategic media planning and analytics in industries including consumer packaged goods, pharmaceuticals and automotive.

“The hiring of Max Greene illustrates FleishmanHillard’s approach to delivering breakthrough client solutions and its commitment to being a total communications resource amid evolving market conditions and digital media landscapes,” said Jennifer Shah, Senior Vice President and Partner, Digital Integration.

Greene joins Nick Drew and Hélène Larochelle, who were hired earlier in 2015 to grow FleishmanHillard’s research and analytics practice and creative capabilities, respectively. Drew joined FleishmanHillard as Senior Vice President, Research, and Larochelle took on the newly-created role as Creative and Strategic Planning Director. Their appointments reflect FleishmanHillard’s commitment to providing clients with deep capabilities and industry-leading expertise across communications disciplines.

Nick Drew will lead the firm’s research and analytics practice in Canada. An experienced researcher, Drew brings a wealth of expertise from his previous work on both the client and supplier sides of the research industry, using data, analytics and primary research to help shape and evaluate campaign strategies. Drew came to FleishmanHillard from Yahoo! Canada, where he was the head of research.

He has won awards from ESOMAR and Canada’s Market Research and Intelligence Association (MRIA) for his work; his 2014 study The Zero Moment of Memory won the MRIA’s prestigious Best in Class award.

Hélène Larochelle has been handed the responsibility of expanding FleishmanHillard’s creative group. Larochelle has over 15 years’ worth of digital & design experience having held senior positions at advertising agencies including RMG Connect, J. Walter Thompson and DraftFCB. She has led several creative mandates for clients such as Nestlé, Kellogg’s, SickKids, Nokia, Walmart, SC Johnson and Kraft.

Larochelle played an important role in establishing the new HSBC Canadian Brand and in 2012 led the creation of the award-winning ‘Patent Your Kiss’ campaign for Harlequin Romance.

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7 blogging best practices to boost rank and readership

Contributed by Vanessa Copeland

So you’re a marketer and you’ve decided to write a blog post. Finally! After all, everyone is doing it. Plus, you have the perfect idea for what to write about. But before you turn those brilliant thoughts into words, consider these seven best practices for turning those words into words people will read, care about and share with others.


the supremes
I wasn’t yelling at you—I was grabbing your attention. With millions of pieces of content uploading to the internet at any given time, getting your audience’s attention is competitive—and your first priority. A typical person surfing the internet has the attention span of goldfish when it comes to advertising and marketing materials, so the title of your blog post must be intriguing. Not only must your title get your audience’s attention, it must also grab the attention of search engines.


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FH Poll Position – Issue 1


This past Sunday Prime Minister Harper kicked off what will be the longest election campaign in modern Canadian history.  Depending on which pundit or politico one talks to, it may turn out to be the most competitive federal race in years.

Get the FleishmanHillard take on this week’s campaign trail activities, including reaction from Canadians, in FH Poll Position Issue 1.





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A primer for un-boring internal communication

Internal communication can often be a little boring. Internal communication about a project management tool will almost always be more than a little bit boring. So when FleishmanHillard’s Creative Services team in Toronto needed to get buy-in on a new process for managing projects, they flexed that creative muscle to execute on the three central principles of internal communication: engage, educate and empower.

The launch of FHuB, a cloud-based project management and workflow platform, came at a critical juncture for FleishmanHillard in Toronto. Over the course of the past 18 months, Creative Services has been the force behind FleishmanHillard Toronto’s expansion into new territory, creating breakthrough original content for some of the most recognized brands in the world. We’ve grown our roster to include experts in design, analytics and creative direction. It’s part of FleishmanHillard’s vision to become world’s most complete communications company.


With this kind of bench strength, clients quickly take notice. Managing the change internally can be more difficult—especially when it represents a departure from business-as-usual. That’s why Creative Services upended the traditional change management campaign, beginning with a teaser and custom-designed assets that generated buzz around the office and the FleishmanHillard network.


The team created a series of characters to highlight the terminology and the steps within the process of a creative project—from initial brief to completion. Creative Services led a group training session, followed up with one-on-one sessions to ensure all team members were comfortable with FHuB. The work was featured cited by Central Desktop, the company behind the FHub platform, as an example of how to do things right.


By getting early buy-in, demonstrating the rationale for the change and making their colleagues feel comfortable with the FHuB, Creative Services fostered a sense of empowerment. Rather than wrestling their colleagues in Reputation Management, Brand Marketing and Public Affairs into conforming to something different, they created an approachable and informal atmosphere to institutionalize the change, allowing it to become the new norm.

Now what?

If you are an internal communications practitioner or are thinking about communications within your own organization, consider that your success is driven by your employees. Keeping them informed and engaged is critical. That’s why at FleishmanHillard, we draw on the expertise of our global network to help clients engage employees in honest conversations about issues that matter. Effective engagement, education and empowerment typically centres on these points:

  • Clear and consistent: While your communications strategy may call for discretion and sensitivity, leave no room for ambiguity. Being consistent ensures goals are clearly defined for all members of the organization. When it comes to change communications, employees should know what the change is, when it will happen, who will be affected and what the rationale is.
  • Appropriate: Fun campaigns can be an effective way to diffuse apprehension regarding change within an organization. Keep in mind however that humour is usually very difficult to get right and not universally appreciated. If you decide not to play it straight, err on the conservative side. Understand that while some situations may call for humour (you may create a campaign called The Graphic Designer’s Guide to Surviving the Transition to Windows), others don’t (The Support Staff’s Hilarious Handbook for a Five-Year Wage Freeze).
  • Timely: Changes within an organization should be communicated in advance wherever possible. Although some circumstances don’t allow it (an acquisition), providing employees with breathing room allows them to take stock of changes and make necessary adjustments.

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Disconnect and connect

Contributed by Jennifer Atkinson

Recently, I attended a training session at FleishmanHillard’s head office in St. Louis. The session brought colleagues together from around the world, and in some cases many were meeting each other in person for the first time despite years of working together. During an evening cocktail reception a few of us started talking about how much easier it is to do business with someone after you’ve met him or her face-to-face, and we were wondering why that was. It certainly isn’t the popular thing to say today because we are all supposed to be hyper-connected through social media. Yet somehow looking someone in the eye and getting to know them as a person instills a trust and comfort that you just can’t find in 140 characters.

It reminded me of another conversation that I had with a client earlier in the week. We were discussing the importance of liking the people that you work with, because after all, we spend more time at work with our colleagues than we do with our spouses. The same goes for our relationships with clients and suppliers, but very few of us take the time to get to know each other, so that we can enjoy the time we spend and actually work better together.

Not everyone is going to have the opportunity to travel to meet colleagues, or the time to always meet in person, but I do believe companies need to pay more attention to giving employees opportunities to build stronger relationships with their peers and clients. Businesses need to care about this for a few reasons. If there’s a strong relationship in place then it’s that much easier to understand the other’s needs. It helps an organization get ahead of any issues because there’s openness to discussion. Most importantly, it can deepen an organization’s ties to both employees and clients, which can result in greater retention.

Here are a few easy ways organizations can help their teams build stronger relationships:

Set an example

It’s not enough to just ask your team to build relationships. You have to show them why relationships are important. Start by getting to know your own team better. At the beginning of meetings have the team share stories from their weekend, or updates on their interests or hobbies. When you are meeting with clients or partners for the first time look for creative ways to get them to open up more about themselves. We recently held a brainstorm with a client and partner agency and rather than follow formal introductions we asked everyone to tell us which celebrity they most identified with and why. It was a great ice breaker and allowed us to get to know each other a little more.

Throw out the agenda

It’s okay to meet without an agenda. We forget how important it is just to kick back and get to know each other. Try to meet offsite at least a few times a year. It’s amazing how new surroundings can help teams relax more. Ask clients to attend events that you know they might enjoy. There’s nothing like taking your team or client to a baseball game. It’s a pretty easy sport to follow with a lot of downtime for chatting in between plays. Last week, I took a walking meeting with two colleagues and learned a lot more about them just from talking about things we were passing along the way. Boardrooms can be stuffy and formal. Bottom line is look for ways to mix up meetings so people have an opportunity to bond more.

Reinforce and reward behaviors

Finally, be sure to ask teams for their own ideas about ways they can build stronger relationships. Have the team share anything new that they learn. Provide a small budget and set a goal for the team to schedule a certain amount of lunches and/or coffee meetings both with their peers and clients. Check back with the team after a few months to discuss how strengthening relationships has either helped them do their jobs better or has just made them feel better about the job they do.

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What makes a successful social media politician?

The potential benefit of social media for politicians and other public figures has always been that it allows them to engage directly with the public—unfiltered and in real time. Done right, it provides politicians an opportunity to communicate about politics and public policy in a way that shows their personalities. Amid increasing voter apathy—turnout in Canadian federal elections has trended steadily downward since the late 1950s—platforms like Twitter, Snapchat and Vine help turn the tide of cynicism among millennials and post-millennials toward politicians that make the social media efforts.

Done right, social media is effective and endearing. Done wrong, it’s embarrassing.

In mid-July, Toronto residents had the opportunity to see a bit of both: some politicians knocking it out of the park and others falling flat.

City councillor Norm Kelly is best known for his much-needed steady hand as deputy mayor during the Rob Ford administration and his impressive @norm Twitter account. With nearly 18,000 followers and more than 4,000 “favourited” tweets, Kelly is city council’s social media super star.

Kanye West, Kim Kardashian and dead raccoons

Over the past several days, Kelly, a historian and former federal parliamentarian, got called a “thug” by an obscure rapper from the United States while trying to defend hometown hero Drake. But the highlight of Kelly’s recent activity on Twitter was when he joined the #DeadRacoonTO conversation, which began when City crews failed to clean up a dead raccoon that was laying spread-eagle beside one of the city’s busiest streets. What resonated with people is that as Kelly joined the conversation he used his social media influence to shed light on concerns regarding the state of the City’s services, while still maintaining a sense of humour.


We asked Kelly for comment on his social media strategy. He refused but a staffer did say that Kelly writes all his own tweets.

Ontario’s transportation minister, Steven Del Duca, also capitalized on an issue trending on social media when he welcomed Kanye West to Toronto and gave a shout-out to unpopular temporary HOV lanes in the same tweet. The decision to feature the American rapper in the closing ceremonies of the Pan Am Games had been criticized by many Canadians on social media and the HOV lanes were even more unpopular.


Mayor’s social stumble

Contrast this with Mayor John Tory’s bad social media week. A few days earlier, Tory, a straight-laced businessman, heaped praise on Kanye West and the Toronto music industry that turned him into an internationally-recognized artist. (West was born in Atlanta and spent his childhood in Chicago and China.)

In response to the embarrassment, Tory’s PR team dug the hole a little deeper, posting an unfunny video to Facebook called ““Yeezus, can’t believe I didn’t know @KimKardashian’s husband wasn’t Canadian!”. To make matters worse, the video was removed due to copyright restrictions. While the mayor should be acknowledged for his willingness to take a risk, it wasn’t clear what he was hoping to achieve.

Tory hasn’t been all bad on social media. Days earlier, he successfully engaged Torontonians when he asked on Twitter where the newly-iconic TORONTO sign should go. Within 36 hours, the hashtag #TORONTOsign generated more than 8.3 million impressions, on a topic that hit more traditional John Tory brand: public engagement and civic pride.

What are the lessons learned?

Politicians can successfully use Twitter to engage with the public, so long as their personality comes through. When social media is stage managed, it’s inauthentic and ineffective.

Social media audiences are receptive to humour—as long as it’s funny. Being funny isn’t being easy, so politicians may first want to master credibility, authenticity and consistency before turning to lulz.

At the end of the day, when it comes to social media, it is perfectly acceptable to let down your guard and show the public that you have a fun side, but social media stunts should still have an underlying message. Trying to be funny for the sake of being funny usually falls flat.

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