Living in a Calculated World

Stories From a Country Girl

Its hard to believe it was 10+ years ago I first entered the world of blogging.

I look back on those days fondly.

{Now I know how most seniors feel when they talk the good ol’ days.. you know, those days before smartphones, technology and all this craziness}

But in all seriousness, even 10 years ago, the digital sphere was a different time.

(OK, now I definitely sound like a senior).  This may be the first blog post that ‘dates me’ as a human. Sigh.

Yes, it’s been that long since my ‘Stories From a Country Girl’ days for those blog readers who have so loyally followed me here all the way from then, to my Passionate Voice blog and now to my new home. Thank you to those readers for your continual support and readership throughout all these years 🙏 Even if there are only 6 of you 😉

I’ve been doing a ton of listening, conversing and reflecting throughout the month of January for work. It has me thinking of how we’re living in such different times than even a short 10 years ago from so many standpoints – in life, in work, with social media, technology, consumer behavior, disruption, the list goes on.

I’ve been thinking long and hard lately about the role of social media and the impact it has on our lives and our mental health. Its something that bombards us and inundates us both personally and professionally every day. We’ve never been properly trained in it and the research isn’t quite there yet to show the long-term lasting effects, yet we continue to use it at such rapid rates. I see firsthand and realize its benefits but I also see the cautions we need to talk about more, to engage productively and healthily with our social media feeds.

And this comes from someone who does social media for a living!

Even blogging 10 years ago was a completely different landscape. It wasn’t so ‘calculated’ as the entire world now is with blogging and social media. When we were blogging back in ‘those days’, we didn’t have to have well-curated graphics that had consistent branding with the ‘right’ fonts. We didn’t care about likes/followers, we just blogged about what we thought about and cared for and if the likes followed, then great but that wasn’t the end goal. We didn’t care about promoting our messages beyond our followers, trying to make our content ‘salesy’ for people to eat up and then buy from us. Hell, we didn’t even give the proper credit for graphics/photos when we searched on Google and used them for our blog posts.

Side note: If you previously read my SFACG blog when I first started, yes, the image above is my old header and no, I didn’t end up purchasing the image for $20 but I am at least giving image credit below 😉

I sometimes wish we had that type of freedom again.

To read blogs written in the ‘old school way’ of blogging. Or think in that easygoing way #FreeThinking. Or blog in the carefree way, whenever we wanted too, without the branding, the content calendar and the perfectly placed hashtags. Blogging in a world where we didn’t have to worry that if you said something that not everyone agreed with, you didn’t have to face the social media wrath you probably would today. I wish we all had that freedom to only care about ourselves and what we thought. And not in a selfish, narcissistic way, but a way that was healthy for us. A time where if you had something to say and wanted to passionately say it, you just said it (HECK YES!)

I really do wish some days we were living in a less calculated world. I miss those days of off-the-cuff randomness. Whose with me?

[Image Source]

8 Takeaways from Communications Week #CommsWeekCA

CommsWeeksCA

What a busy week this has turned out to be - cannabis was legalized across Canada on Wednesday, we celebrated Small Business Week, a new Royal pregnancy was announced and who knew it was also Communications Week?!

This year was the first time we celebrated Communications Week in Canada beyond celebrating it in New York, London, Chicago and Hamburg. I had the opportunity to attend the first-time event on Thursday, bringing together some of the best communications professionals to network and discuss timely topics like media/journalism, diversity, and branding in the communications realm.

The speakers were brilliant and provided a lot of catchy take-aways (shared with a lot of honesty and humour).

Here are 8 tidbits from the event:

  1. Choose social media platforms based on time investment. How much time do you have to put in to create content that resonates with your audience/marketplace - David Pagnotta, Founder & EIC, Fourth Period Media

  2. Competition is healthy in the digital space - it pushes us all to be better, more innovative and think differently - Jacqueline Leung, Founder & EIC, Pressed News

  3. Its not why/what to influence, it is how. You can influence in person, not just on social media. Social media platforms are just distribution channels. You need to determine your message/brand voice first - Joanna Track, Founder & Executive Published, The Bullet

  4. [When discussing multicultural advertising and showcasing all the incredible people associated with Hip Hop like Drake, Serena Williams, Jay-Z, Lebron James, etc]. Hip hop has evolved with the times and reinvented itself. Hip hop is an economic powerhouse - its people have reclaimed its narrative, its confident in itself, it knows its worth, the leaders of the industry are from the industry and will ensure its art form. Its why Hip Hop doesn’t have a diversity issue. - Dabo Che, Founder CHE Industries

  5. Don’t build a brand, build an identity. You don’t have to build a brand if you have a strong identity. - Shaharris Beh, CEO Hackernest

  6. Canada is more socially-aware and socially responsible than the US. Before brands come into the Canadian marketplace (or you go into any marketplace) do your research and homework first (its why brands like Target and Sam’s Club have failed) - Sheryl Johnson, Chief Insights Officer, BTI Brand Innovations Inc.

  7. Develop a relationship with media before you need them - Jodi Echakowitz

  8. Telling our story hasn’t changed.. we’ve always been telling our story.. but the way we tell our story is what has changed (when referring to social media and the digital space) - Erin Bury, Managing Director, Eighty-eight agency

If anything, the event made me think of how so much of what the speakers were talking about is what we need to think about in agriculture and food:

  • have we evolved in the consumer space like other industries/brands have to leverage existing trends (i.e. social media, influencer marketing, etc)

  • our industry were early adopters of social media but have we continued to evolve and adapt as social media has changed?

  • we need to listen to our audience/marketplace first before wanting to tell our side of the story

  • choose communications/social media platforms wisely and strategically (not every social media channel is needed!)

  • have we truly built the relationships we need as a sector to further our message (i.e. media, brand influencers, other sectors)

Most importantly, the event reminded me that communications isn’t just social media. Communications involves many facets - media, photography, branding, advertising, print, radio AND social media (even though the digital space is the way of the future) A good reminder for all!

We're Live!

Welcome to our new home at Crowley + Arklie Strategy & Co.

This has been years in the making. We are proud to {finally} make things official and launch our digital communications agency. We have big ideas, a lot of creative juice and the tools to execute.

There are three things we’re passionate about, well I guess you could say four: people, communicating, agriculture and social media.

So what are we doing here?

We believe that every brand, business and executive should be good at communicating.

There really is no excuse in today’s digitally-crazed world where access to information (or anything!) is at our fingertips. That’s why we're on a mission to help transform the way brands, businesses and executives communicate in agriculture-food and beyond through digital and social media. 

The services we offer are what businesses, boards and executives need help in most: digital and social media, communications planning, campaign management and execution, media training, branding and more. Overwhelmed yet? Let us help you.

We’re glad you found us at our new home. Take a few minutes to browse and look around, learn more about our story, who we’ve worked with and by all means, get in touch with us so we can chat further about how we can help you.

Thanks for coming along and sharing in this new adventure with us.

We can’t wait to hear from you!

Tuesday Thoughts

Well hello, there!

I've wanted to blog for a few weeks' now but never knew where to start. Isn't that something we all struggle with? Where to begin? What to do first? What to stick with? What to love the most? What to get rid of and leave behind? So much has been going on as of late, its hard to know where to start and what to share.

Springtime

There is something about this spring that has awaken me to so many new things. New things about the world around me, about people, but most importantly, about myself. The new greenery and flowers blooming, even the fresh smell of spring has awoken me in a different way than the last few years. I've happily welcomed this.

Motherhood/Back to Work #onthecampaigntrail

Its an overwhelming bittersweet time for me personally right now. I'm transitioning from my year off on maternity leave, entering back into not only the workforce, but the campaign trail. Ontario's provincial election is 23 days away on June 7th. When I began working 4 years ago in politics at Queen's Park, I knew this election time would come eventually, I just didn't think it would come this fast. Much like my time with Blake. Where did this past year really go?

Because of the transition heading back to work, it has meant closing the book on being a stay-at home mom for the past year. It has meant starting a new chapter of watching Blake transition to day care. I'm also preparing to move back home to Peterborough for a few week's while I work #onthecampaigntrail. I promise to blog about this exciting adventure in a separate post.

What the last few weeks has taught me is about sacrifice. Loving what you do for a living, while you have to watch what you've did for the past year fade into the sunset. Knowing that while it is hard to watch your child grow up, this is what life is all about.

I've been trying to soak up as many friend hangouts, family catch up's, sunsets on the dock and coffee shop visits before reality sets in next week when I officially go back to work.

I love me some routine

I've enjoyed setting up a productive routine for the past little while, knowing full-well that, that routine is going straight out the window now that the campaign has started. If there is something I have learned about myself, its that while I love new things and discovering the unknown, I thrive on routine. Don't we all as human beings? I've learned this the most from watching Blake. He loves meeting new people, taking in new things, not going to bed on time once and a while, but he pays for it a few days later. He sleeps better, eats better and you can tell he's just an overall more happier baby when he's in his routine. This is us as adults too, we just don't like to admit it.

Learning Overload 

I've been the type of person that has 100 tabs open in my browser; articles saved to read; and so many random notes about motivational TED talks written down in my notebook but it hasn't been until recently that I've wondered... is it too much? I'm not saying I want to stop learning but at some point, is it too much? If I want to speed up in the areas of my life I want to succeed it, does it mean I have to slow down in other areas of my life that don't allow me to grow? If anything, Blake has been the greatest reminder for me to slow down.

[Photo Source]

7 Ways to Manage Your Digital Footprint

If you visit here often or we follow each other on social media, you would have noticed some changes last fall to my photography and branding.

It was just some simple, subtle, yet positive changes that helped to spice things up around here and on my social platforms. Hello, new headshot! :P 

Its like when I re-arrange furniture in my house when the seasons change, it is the simplest thing to do and the BEST feeling when its done. In the social world, you really always have to be changing it up to keep fresh, continue to evolve and be noticed as you and your brand grow and evolve.

The intended change was good because it made me realize how you have to take continued stock or inventory of your digital footprint. Simply put, you have to keep track of all your social profiles. Sounds easy but it isn't.

Even if you’re not rebranding, having all of your passwords and log-in information in one place is a good place to start. This made things SO much easier for me when I went to do my rebrand and proudly post my new headshot across all my social platforms last fall.

This blog post can serve both individuals or even businesses and social/digital managers that manage their company's corporate communications and brands. Here are 7 things I learned last fall with my rebrand for how you too, can easily manage your digital footprint at any point in time.

7 Ways to Manage Your Digital Footprint

  1. Create and maintain a locked password document (that requires a password to get into the document). This should contain all of your social media platform passwords. This is an easy way to keep organized, period.
  2. Establish and set your brand guideline. This will ensure you execute your brand with consistent colours, fonts and look/feel across all social platforms you use. It is best to create a mood board and then a brand board to always refer back too. I've provided my latest rebrand branding board below for your reference :)
  3. Once you've set your 'look and feel', hire a professional photographer to capture your brand - it’s a wise investment and some of the best money you will spend!
  4. Have a consistent logo/photo/headshot across all of your social platforms.
  5. When/if you decide to change your logo/photo/headshot, take the time to update your bio and descriptions with the same consistent wording and put this across all of your platforms.
  6. Update your website or your blog at the same time to reflect any of these new changes and introduce your new rebrand.
  7. Review your analytics on each of your social platforms and website/blog to determine what platforms are working best for you. When you rebrand, its a perfect time to add new platforms, change the function of existing platforms or decide altogether to stop using certain social platforms if you find you're not getting the ROI for the value you're putting in. Your followers on each of your social platforms will tell you a lot about what they consume from your brand.

If you have questions about your own social media profiles, need help in rebranding or want to know more about the analytics behind your social platforms,let's get in touch!