Archive of ‘MediaBzz’ category

Return of the house party

I’m getting ready to go to a house party. That’s right – a house party! And that’s not all. The reason why I’m going to this house party is so that I can see a band play. I don’t think that I’ve done this in about 10 years. Why is this such a big deal you may ask? Well, here it is…

First off, the group is fantastic. Their called Little City and you should definitely check them out. I went to University with a few members and I’m sad to say that I had no idea how amazingly talented they were while we were at school together. Thank goodness for social media because I was able to stumble on to their music.

Secondly, I’ve been really angry these past few weeks with our government and the cuts that I’ve seen happen to the arts, culture and media fields. I’m not one to get wrapped up in the political world, but these cuts are really frustrating. Several arts & cultural organizations have had their funding cut A LOT (like NFB, CBC and Telefilm just to name a few of the big ones). There are so many smaller organizations that have also been affected. Also, you may have heard about Saskatchewan cutting their film tax credit. To boil it down, if you don’t offer incentives for independent productions to produce in your country they will leave. That means that the jobs will go too. And not just the jobs of people who work directly with these productions, but also outside companies who supply items and services needed.

When I started studying Radio & Television, the environment seemed promising. Yes, there were “issues” but it seemed like little by little things were evolving in a positive way. I saw the film & TV industry pick up quite a bit in Quebec, Toronto and out west. This meant that more and more Canadians would be able to work in the field in their home country. We’ve already seen way too many talented Canadians relocate to the US because their industry seems to appreciate and nurture talent more.  My good friend Matthew MacFadzean wrote a really compelling argument about how we as a country are stunting our own growth in this field. Give it a read – he makes some really great points. Points that really ring true after hearing about all of these cuts to arts and culture.

Anyway, to get back on track I’m going to this house party to show MY support for arts, culture and music in Canada. In my own way, I’m showing the artists, musicians, writers and talent that I support them even if our government doesn’t seem to. So, if you are in a band or made a movie and you’ll be showing in Ottawa let me know and I’ll come out and support you. It’s sad to think, but if we continue down this track as a country house parties may be the only way for us to experience live music, shows, theatre and the works…

Disclaimer: I’m not really good friends with Matthew MacFadzean. I just wrote that so you would think I was cool.

We all have to start somewhere…

Last week, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) gave the Red River College student radio station (KICK-FM) notice that an updated campus radio policy will affect its broadcasting status because the CRTC won’t license stations that exist purely for educational reasons anymore.

While I’m not going to start bashing the CRTC because of this (because I don’t have all of the facts or know the whole story), I do want to discuss how important “hands-on” experience is in the broadcasting industry.

It is one thing to know the theory behind your craft, but it’s another thing to have in-field training. All of the leading schools in broadcasting/media production have an internship/co-op placement worked into their curriculum. Here are just some of the benefits to in-field training :

  • Turn theories and concepts into reflexes. There is more pressure and higher expectations when you have an audience. If you make a mistake you need to learn quickly and only make it once.
  • Networking opportunities. The industry is highly competitive so the ability to network and build up your reputation in the field is critical. Also, you’re able to build relationships with others who are also starting out in the field. Chances are you will be working with many of these people in the future.
  • Helps develop a professional work ethic.
  • Refuel your motivation and dedication to the craft. This experience is meant to give you an idea of what it will be like once you finish school. Chances are if you hate it, you may be in the wrong field. On the other hand you may have an opportunity to experience a different aspect of the biz that you may end up liking more than you had thought.

I got my first taste of the broadcasting industry when I was in Cegep (college) studying Science. I hated it and spent all of my time working at the campus radio station (CSKY). I had no previous broadcasting experience and learnt so much from this hands-on experience.  Within a year I became the General Manager and transferred into a Media program… Bottom line is that without access to my campus radio station, I may have turned into some passionless, mediocre researcher. Quelle horreur!

- Sarah

Big day for Canadian politics and social media

A big announcement came today from the Harper government who announced its plan to end the “social media blackout” imposed during elections. Here’s a little background…

In 1938, Elections Canada passed a law prohibiting Canadians and news outlets from broadcasting results that might influence those who had yet to cast their ballot. With the different time zones in Canada, the polls located on the east coast close several hours before their counterparts on the west coast.

Although we can (somewhat) understand the reasoning behind why the law was put in place there was still a big disconnect between regulators and social media users. Social media plays a huge role in democracy as it is essentially a series of communication tools that can be used to empower and educate individuals and groups. Canadians are known as being very early adopters when it comes to social media and technology so it was a little unrealistic and (if I may be so bold to say) backwards for Elections Canada to continue to try and impose this law. The penalty for breaking it was a $25,000 fine and up to 5 years in prison.

Today, I can breathe a slight sigh of relief because I feel as though “they” are starting to “get” it and understand that evolving with the times and technology is necessary.

The Minister of State for Democratic Reform, Tim Uppal, hit the nail on the head when he tweeted The ban, which was enacted in 1938, does not make sense with the widespread use of social media and other modern communications technology.” Well said Minister…well said… The official release can be found here.


Year in review…

This past year was a very busy one. Full of challenges, successes and a variety of colorful personalities that made my days THAT much more interesting. Thank you to all of you, and for you out there in cyberland (sounds nicer than cyberspace) who have been following along with our blog and events.

I also want to share some great news with you. I’ve decided to refocus my efforts in 2012, to allow me more time to do what I love:  blogging and video producing… Here’s to a wild year ahead! Happy viewing!

- Sarah




Google Music

Discover. Shop. Listen. Organize. Share.

Google Music is the pixie dust that Google needed to sprinkle over their products to take them to the next level. Although it’s not yet available in Canada, Canadians are able to take a virtual tour of the product. I had a look through today and I am really liking what they have to offer.  It made me swoon all over again for Google. I had/have a bit of a love/indifferent relationship with Google+. I understand that it has its place in the market and I see the value that its integration with other products like Google Docs has.  But, today is the first day that I was actually excited about Google+ because music was the deal maker…

The consumption of music via radio is declining (many would argue that this is because radio has turned into a device that replays the top 10 most annoying songs over and over…but that’s besides the point ). People, including myself, now flock to services like Pandora and Jango to help them come across new bands and musicians. I actually prefer this type of service to something like GrooveShark, where you create your own playlist. If it weren’t for Jango, I may have completely missed the boat on Bon Iver, Soko and Kate Nash. Google Music promises to recommend you music that you’ll like and this adds a lot of valuable people like me, who are old school radio fans and who have now become jaded because we’re sick of what traditional radio has turned into.

The shop and listen features seem to work like iTunes, only Google Music tells users that there is no need for syncing or wires…This could be interesting, only I don’t have an Android device so it may not have any effect on me. When it comes to organizing, you can upload and store your music library (up to 20,000 songs). You can also share selected songs with your Google+ followers and they can listen to the track once (for free) or purchase it. This is a really nice feature because as much as I love iTunes sometimes I feel like Michael Scott from The Office when he keeps replaying that 30-second preview clip of “Goodbye my Lover” because he only wants a taste…

Well done Google. Now please come to Canada so that we can rock out.

- Sarah


To tweet or not to tweet…

I want to know what your take is on live tweeting at events and conferences. Do you tweet at these events? Do you think it’s rude to the presenter? Are you too lazy? Do you think it’s valuable?

Recently, I was at a social media conference and the topic of live tweeting came up. Although this practice isn’t new, it seems like people are still pretty split on whether it is useful/beneficial or not. I’m very interested to hear feedback on this, because to be honest, I’m still undecided on how I feel about it. When I attend an event, I’ll almost  always “check in” via Twitter, Foursquare or Facebook. I then check to see what the word is on Twitter by looking up the hashtag and scanning the comments. That’s usually when I decide if I will be actively tweeting or not… I see it like a party.  If I see a lot of people dancing and it looks like fun then I’ll join in BUT, I don’t want to be the crazy lady who’s busting a move by myself on the dance floor while everyone else looks on…

My usual approach as an audience member is to tweet once in a while. I’ll usually highlight an aspect that surprised me, or I’ll single out a speaker that I was impressed by, or submit questions (if they are accepting questions via Twitter). I don’t usually tweet all of the facts and info that is communicated because I feel like I may miss out on what’s actually going on in the room.

I’ve often come across interesting facts on Twitter and clicked on the hashtag only to see that there is an awesome conference/webinar that I was missing. I appreciate when attendees live tweet content because I can benefit from the information (without being there). These types of people have a very special skill and fast fingers for typing so fast!… The other side of the argument is, can you really benefit from these tweets if you don’t have the full context of the presentation? Do 140-character facts really provide value? Or is it perpetuating a world where we overuse buzz words that no one really understands (except for the lovely folks who contribute to Wikipedia).

As a presenter, I don’t think that it’s rude if someone live tweets during my presentation. It can be a little distracting at first when you see so many audience members “playing” on their phones, but it’s always nice to read the feedback after on Twitter.

So…what’s the word?…

- Sarah


Social Media in the Public Sector

Hope that you can join me for this special webinar, that’s being presented by the Conference Board of Canada.

We’ll be touching on the following topics:

  • What is social media
  • Trends
  • Core tools
  • How to develop your strategy – goals, tactics, monitoring
  • Top 5 reasons for failure and how to safeguard your plan
  • Supporting special initiatives
  • Setting the rules

Feel free to send over your questions before hand.




I’ve been in a bit of a “blah” mood lately. Most people are, with the end of summer here at our doorstep. This morning I came across a Facebook application that is making me excited to go online again! The app is : WindDecoder by Wind Mobile.

The concept is simple. The application translates ‘new school’ lingo into ‘old school’ definitions. Users can also add their favorite phrases and definitions within seconds. I like to call this app the PG/texting version of the urban dictionary.

Fun and relevant apps are a great way to “energize” your fans and audience. It’s also a great way to increase traffic to your respective sites and build brand awareness. The key items that many companies overlook when developing an app are:

  1. Simplicity:  Is it simple enough for someone with little or no knowledge of your brand/company to use?
  2. Does it serve the purpose that it was created for? Is it useful? Fun?
  3. Can you explain the concept of the app in under 20 seconds? Make sure that the vision is clear.
  4. Accessible: Is it accessible? Can it be used on a variety of operating systems? Languages? Browsers?

Due to the specialized skills required for developing apps, I find that many companies choose to use external professionals.  Whether you use someone in-house or external, make sure that you are clear when you  communicate your vision with them.  Encourage your team to offer suggestions and ask questions, because these can really help improve your overall product.

How private is too private?

I once had a Sociology prof who regardless of what the question/problem was, always found a way to blame it on the media. Today, we have a new scapegoat : Social Media. Social media and BlackBerry Messaging (BBM) are being credited with helping rioters mobilize in the UK. Research in Motion (RIM), makers of BlackBerry, are now in the spotlight while people debate whether or not they should turn over their customer’s chat logs and records to the police so that they can use them to assist in tracking down looters. To make matters even more volatile, one of RIM’s blogs was hacked by a group warning the company not to cooperate with the police.

How private is too private? Should RIM turn over their customer’s private information? Or, should they “protect” their customer’s right to privacy by not offering up this information?

While I’m not familiar with the laws in the UK, if this were to happen in Canada the general rule of thumb for companies is that they require legal authorities to submit a production order or warrant. A production order requires the owner of documents to make available specified documents to persons such as law enforcement officials within a specified period. This request needs to be very specific and include what information is needed and why it is required. This request goes before a  Justice of the peace and is evaluated. Once a decision has been made, the company must comply otherwise they will be impeding an investigation, which can result in heavy fines or jail time.  Believe it or not, there is actually a portion of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that recognizes individual’s rights against self-incrimination.

Ning may be on the market

The World’s largest platform for creating social websites may soon be sold. Word has it that Ning has been talking recently to a large pool of companies about selling itself. Potential buyers include Google, Groupon and who knows…maybe even Justin Timberlake after his recent co-purchase of MySpace.

If you’re unfamiliar with Ning, here is the lowdown: Ning is very popular, because the platform allows people, companies and bands to launch their very own social network (known as Ning Networks). Often it is personalized with the company or artist’s branding so you probably won’t even realize that you’re using it. Among the users are: Linkin Park, Twilight Saga, and the Dallas Mavericks. The service also allows customers to charge for membership or monetize off of advertising.

Needless to say, you put all of these Ning Networks together and you wind up with a widely used platform that includes users from a variety of different demographics. Although management has had to evolve with the market, it seems as though they had found their “happy place” in a somewhat saturated market.

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