Know No Limits – Magnolia’s Social Media Summer Campaign – Join us!


By Phoebe Yong

This past week, I’ve watched several commencement speeches in the media delivered by smart, highly successful individuals, and safe to say, over achievers.   As I watched and listened to their inspirational wishes for these young graduates, as an entrepreneurial woman, I couldn’t help but also think about the young graduating students at the  high school and elementary school level — in particular the young women and girls who even at that young age have so much to consider before entering adulthood.

This is why I’ve decided to dedicate part of our social media campaign this summer on a project I’ve called “Know No Limits”. Sounds a bit like a Nike slogan doesn’t it, but truthfully, I came up with this idea while enroute back from a business trip.

My daughter is graduating from Grade 7 this year, marking a milestone in her young educational pursuit and I often hear her talk about different professions she would like to strive for. The usual professions that are often targeted for women in health care and education are mentioned. Then I thought about how cool it would be to initiate a campaign where women in all sorts of careers, maybe not quite as traditional, encourage young women and girls engaged in the idea of knowing no limits to their success in whatever they want to do.

Using social media the goal of our team will be to spread the message this summer that young women today can achieve anything they set their mind to it, and here are the many examples of great women in all sectors and professions to tell you how they did it and the obstacles they overcame.

Lastly, I want young women to know if they choose to do something they love as a career, then each day isn’t a chore or drag but a true reflection on their purpose in life to live out their passions and contribute to being an awesome human being in our society.

So please help me this summer by passing the word of “Know No Limits” for young women out there and in the coming weeks, I hope you will enjoy the interviews, short articles, and blogs on how women are living their full potential because they dared to Know no Limits.

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The DART Strategy for Building Media Lists


By Sandy Leong

The trick behind making sure your press release stays in a reporter’s inbox is in knowing who to contact and how to present your idea to them. Developing a good media list is just as important as penning a great pitch. Get this right and you will have a solid list of contacts from which you can reference again and again.

We recommend the DART strategy

D             DEFINE – your story – the, “so what?”

A             Choose your AUDIENCE – who are you targeting?

R             RESEARCH – Search for contacts, read their articles, know their beat

T              TWEAK – Update your list on an ongoing basis

DEFINE Your Story

Before you even begin building a media list, make sure you’ve fleshed out the point you’re trying to get across: What are you hoping to achieve? What message(s) do you want to deliver?

Choose your AUDIENCE

Who is your ultimate customer and what do they care about? Identify which media your market is following whether local, regional, national, traditional or social. The reporters you choose to contact will also depend on your angle, e.g., if your story is on a new restaurant, your pitch to a food blogger will be slightly different than it would be for a lifestyle reporter.


Whether you’re using a media database or a search engine, you will need to dig deep to find the right targets. Start searching for the general outlets that cover your topic and then narrow down what you’ve compiled by media type and location. Supplement your list with contact names and titles.

Tip: Always try to replace the generic e-mail (editorial@) that media outlets set up for queries with ones that go directly to the right editor.

Not sure where to start? Begin by getting familiar with the outlets and reporters on your list before you pitch them. Look at their past articles and imagine how you could help them write their next story.

TWEAK your List

Your job doesn’t end here. Keeping your media lists updated is just as important as identifying the right outlets and writers. The media world is fast paced, and with each day that goes by, another journalist has shifted roles.  Review your lists at least every 1-2 months to make sure your contacts are fresh. This will ensure you have a quality, reliable database.

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5 Key Ingredients of a Great Press Release


By Hanah Van Borek

First the headline. Make it irresistible.
The subhead too.

Then start with your key messages, those 5 famous W’s and their sidekick the H - Who, What, Where, When, Why and How. These hold everything together and can stand on their own. The reporter shouldn’t have to scroll any further.

However, if they do, they will learn more from the Supporting Points which should help tell the story by providing further background, without veering on another subject altogether.

Next bring in the facts,
plain and simple.
Present them objectively and
Provide Stats if possible, but don’t overdo it.

Finally, including Quotes is necessary for context and credibility. “A great quote doesn’t simply reiterate the point,” said Magnolia’s PR Expert. “It should add further insight and demonstrate the ‘big picture’ value such as industry relevance.”

Keep in mind: while you’re not writing something to be reprinted, everything you offer in the release should be easily transformed into a story.

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Messaging: Answer the “So What?” Question

What messaging all comes down to truly is the “So What?”factor.


By: Phoebe Yong

It’s easy to get caught up with your service or product feeds and speeds when creating your key messages and sound bites. Companies get too personal about their value, creating a bubble of self-adoration, but they need to step outside of it and answer the hard questions – get to the facts.  Why do you matter to your customers, to the industry, and more importantly, what greater problem can you solve?

When consulting with clients on crafting their message, we tend to break it down into a few key sound bites that point to differentiation, significance to specific industries, and then meaning for customers. I keep reminding clients and their sales teams that reporters aren’t hired to write advertorials, that’s left to the ad department. The editorial piece must be unbiased and relevant to the outlet’s readership, and if you can’t spell out what the “So What?” factor is for them, why should the reporter try to figure it out?

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Media Ready – Stick to the KISS Principle


By Jina You

One of the first things a journalist learns when starting out is the KISS principle: “Keep it Simple Stupid”. Complexity, abstract notions, and ambiguity are considered bad writing and deleted out of news stories.

The same goes for interviews. Reporters will think you’re a genius if you’re able to take complex subject matter and explain it in a simple, compelling way.

That truth came home to me when one day when I had to interview a university professor for a TV news story. No matter how many times I would repeat the question trying to get a “soundbyte”, he struggled to explain his subject matter. Needless to say, his interview never made it on the news.

We all have “industry speak” within our professions, but it’s important never to use it during an interview, whether it’s televised, recorded or printed. That’s because your words will be disseminated to a wide audience of business people, housewives, students, educators, et cetera who are hearing or reading about your story for the first time. The message will mean nothing if they don’t know what you’re talking about.

Losing the jargon and the fancy acronyms has another purpose too (besides avoiding to put the reporter to sleep), it will force you to speak in clearer, tighter sentences and overall communicate better. The challenge is always this: what is the one take away the audience is going to remember?

Keep your message to three key ideas in order to stand out from the background noise. Try the 12-year old nephew test: could he understand your topic if you explained it? He should.

Knowing how to explain your subject in clear simple terms will earn you points with a reporter and help establish you as a go-to source in every interview you do.

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The Feature Story Of Your Dreams


By Hanah Van Borek

Your business is on the cusp of something big…you’re about to take the world by storm! The world just doesn’t know it yet. Yet you’re sure that you’ll be appearing any day now on the front cover of the New York Times. So where are all the reporters knocking on your door?

Well you could be ALL that and a bag of chips, but that doesn’t mean you’ll have the media convinced. If you really want that feature story, you may want to give these points some thought.

It takes time to build familiarity.
Don’t wait for an announcement to begin your outreach. Take the time to introduce yourself, build a relationship and offer your expertise.

No means not right now.
As long as you’re contacting the right reporter, continue sending your updates. Even if the reporter won’t cover your news this time, that doesn’t mean they won’t in the future.

Don’t be selfish.
Have you considered sharing the limelight with a client or partner? Offering other sources is a great way to have your business covered and it helps legitimize your story.

Pick up a pen.
With fewer and fewer resources and staff, newspapers are focused on the web and they need content! Consider pitching your own writing. Thought leadership around business management and career advice may be an ideal place to start, a good example is The Globe and Mail’s Leadership Lab .

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Is Your Website Outdated? 5 Symptoms That You Shouldn’t Ignore

By: Kelly Choi


Sometimes you need to take a good hard look in the mirror and be honest with yourself. And sometimes you need to take a good hard look at your website and do the same. If you suffer from one or more of the following web-symptoms, it could be time for a facelift.

You can’t remember when you last updated your site
To fully take advantage of all the latest apps and widgets, it’s best to consider a redesign every few years. Doing so not only shows viewers and customers that your content and layout is modern and up-to-date, but also that you are proactive on the web.

Your website isn’t mobile friendly
According to a recent Google study, 75% of people browsing online prefer a mobile-friendly site and are subsequently more likely to be returning visitors or buy a product or a service from a website that is. In fact, 48% reportedly believe companies with non-mobile friendly websites don’t care about their business.

SEO is unfamiliar
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) does more than bring your company name to the top of Google’s search results, SEO attracts unsolicited traffic to your website. Without it, your potential customers are more inclined to visit other sites, including those of your competitors who are engaged in SEO practices.

Your company’s platform or branding has evolved
Any changes your company has undergone would need to be reflected on the website since it serves as the first impression. Not doing so means you’re providing inconsistent messaging for your audience and potential customers.

Your web report shows poor metrics
If you aren’t getting the views that you want, then it’s definitely time to consider a facelift. Look for important cues like high bounce rates in your metric report which may reveal that you not only have a lack of web traffic, but are acquiring the wrong type of traffic as well.

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Getting Bums In Seats


By: Kelly Choi

Picture this scenario: you’ve been planning an event for months and have slaved away researching a venue, exploring catering options, perfecting the décor, and much more on a long list of arrangements. But on the day of the event, as you eagerly await for the arrival of your many guests, you realize you can barely fill the room. This is a nightmare for any event planner. It’s also a nightmare for guests who are expecting a chance to mingle with a group and presenters who are anticipating a good audience.

Well there are some surefire tactics we can suggest that promise to fill those seats:

Know your event, know your audience

Think of the top three goals you would like your event to achieve. What is the message that you want your attendees to bring home? Knowing what your event’s goals are will help narrow down your list of potential invites and sets your event apart from others.

Spend more time on promotion and start early

Too often people put all their time into detail decisions. Rather than focusing on whether to go with the swan-folded napkins or fan-folded napkins, don’t forget you need to get the word out! Promotion is so much more than just creating a Facebook event page. Thanks to e-mail marketing and social tools like Event Brite, creating a campaign is a cinch. Begin planning your outreach early on in order to give people lots of notice and more opportunities to consider attending.

Create an email and social media marketing timeline

E-mail marketing services such as MailChimp or Constant Contact are ideal for event invitations and notices. Keep your audience in the loop about your event by sending out consistent e-mailers with a variety of subject lines, starting first with the initial “save the date” notification, the actual invitation, and then one or two follow up emails leading up to the event, as well as a “thanks for attending” note following your event which is a great chance to get feedback.

For social media (SM) marketing, create a comprehensive schedule of tweets about your event and consider creating an event hashtag to start some buzz. For example, if it’s a golf fundraiser, you could use #pitchinandputt and synch them up with your other SM accounts for a wider reach. Find more great SM tips here: WiredImpact.

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Event Nightmares – Imagine if this happened to you…


By: Phoebe Yong

The best way to avoid an event disaster is to anticipate any or all disaster scenarios. Yet we can’t predict every possible thing that can go wrong.  What we can do is share our experiences so as to help one another avoid making the same mistake.  This is my event nightmare which I share in hopes that it may never happen to you. Just thinking about it brings back butterflies…

It was many years ago when CTIA Wireless decided to host their member meeting in Vancouver and all the major names in the wireless industry were expected to be there. I was working at Sierra Wireless, who was a member of the organization, and as the head of marketing communications, I had close ties with the CTIA’s planning committee. They asked me to help them with selecting the venue for the big reception so I chose the Art Gallery.

For the month of December our blog has been dedicated to events and last week we featured our Ultimate Event Check List with some very useful tips. The one thing on the checklist that I didn’t put down, and neither did the Gallery that day, was a liquor license. Each of us had made the fatal assumption that it had been taken care of by the other. And so the nightmare began.

At 13:00, the day of the event, I went to see the banquet manager to finalize all arrangements (planning ahead!) and at the end of our cordial meeting, she then dropped it on me, “You have the license?”  I looked at her with bewilderment. A few moments of silence passed and then panic struck, for both me and her.  The banquet manager explained that the venue was not responsible for issuing this key government document to which I retorted that I hadn’t even considered that it was my responsibility. This was the Art Gallery, a venue that holds regular cocktail events, not a community centre! While the banter on who was at fault went on for several minutes, reality hit that we had less than five hours until some of the biggest names in the wireless data industry would be descending on the Gallery with only water, juice and soda to drink. This was not good!

The banquet manager pointed me to the police station, which she said could process a license the most efficiently with such short notice, and that’s where my nightmare progressed. I raced to the station and there I was told that the only person who could issue me the license within the same day had already clocked out. By this time it was 14:30, and apparently he had been issuing licenses since 3:00 and so rightfully his work day was done. The clerk saw the pure desperation and fear on my face – I guess it was pretty obvious! I was envisioning 300 frowning guests, sipping on diet coke. My job would surely be at stake. To my utter luck, she kindly offered to call the off duty officer and see if he might be nearby to sign the document. At this point, I was ready to try anything.

She did get through to him on the phone but unfortunately, I was then told, he was too far away to return to the station. I had no choice. I had to find him. I asked her to give me his location, paid for the license, got the paperwork completed and then I was off to find the only one who could put an end to my event nightmare.

With heart pounding, head spinning and palms sweating, I was on a “police chase”. Finally I spotted the officer near the intersection of a busy street. Upon seeing me he unassumingly came out of his vehicle and said, “You’re one lucky girl that you caught me.” I thought to myself, “You have no idea!”

I wanted to give him a huge hug, but instead gave him a big fat handshake. The night was saved!

The truth is I was very lucky. The event could have easily gone the other way, and it all hinged on one mistake. My biggest lesson from this miscue was to make sure that I always have a proper checklist! Nowadays, many indoor venues in our city have already instituted liquor licenses included with their banquet package, but one can never assume. Another take away is this: know which questions to ask and trust your intuition. There are no dumb questions! The question that you fail to ask could be your last hope of preventing a nightmare.

At the event, while the CTIA Wireless chairman thanked the Vancouver team for hosting the event, making special mention of my name, I was nowhere to be seen. Instead I was driving around the city like a mad woman on the hunt for the license. When the ordeal was over and I had arrived, I ordered a nice glass of scotch. I have no idea who made it but I can tell you distinctly from memory that it was the best tasting scotch I’ve ever had!


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