5 Shades of Collaboration Tools for the Office (Rated G)


By: Kelly Choi

Forget the ropes and duct tape, here are five family-friendly scenarios you may encounter at work and five collaborative tools to combat those problems.

Scenario 1: You’re getting lost in a sea of emails for a project you’re working on

Whether you are managing one project or ten, it can be a struggle to keep track of all your deadlines and stay on top of all your emails. Not to mention, you may be collaborating with multiple people at various points in time. The last thing you want is to miss an important piece of information, or forget to cc someone in an ever growing and progressively indented email thread.

Solution: Basecamp

Basecamp is an online project management tool that allows you to create multiple projects with multiple users in one place. Clients use message boards which display all messages in a neat, chronological order to clearly identify who said what. Other useful features include the ability to create to-do lists and its integration with Google Docs, allowing for a convenient way to share and edit files instantly.

Scenario 2: You’re spending too much time managing your social media channels

If you find yourself consistently going back and forth checking your replies between social media channels, or you are setting a timer every two hours to send your posts, then you might want to use a platform that allows you to do all this in one place.

Solution: Hootsuite

One of the most popular social media management tools, Hootsuite allows you to manage multiple social media channels from one web-based dashboard by providing the ability to schedule posts, measure campaign results, monitor conversations, and track them. Another useful feature is the capacity to integrate with over 100 apps, such as YouTube or Salesforce.

Scenario 3: Your computer caught a virus and now all your files are missing

Just like going to the gym, making regular back-ups on your hard drive is one of those things you know is a good idea and you plan to do but never actually get around to doing. So when it’s your turn to get a computer virus (it’s inevitable), you begin to beat yourself up for delaying backup protocol and mourn over the pictures from your Great Uncle Bob’s 55th birthday party (okay, not really).

Solution: Dropbox

Instead of relying on anti-virus programs, investing in a cloud storage system, such as Dropbox, allows you to store massive amounts of data offsite in a safe and secure setting. Not only that, but it makes working remotely from home possible, letting you access your most recently updated work files immediately whether you’re on your smartphone, tablet or laptop.

Scenario 4: Your client is located in Texas and you’re in Vancouver

While Texas has always been on your bucket list, it’s not feasible to travel over 3,000 km for a one-hour meeting and, though a phone call is only an arm’s length away, it’s not a practical tool for meetings with larger groups. Not to mention, face-to-face communication is very important for building strong and trusting client relationship.

Solution: GoToMeeting

GoToMeeting is a video conferencing tool that allows users to hold online meetings, video chat, and share screens with up to 25 attendees. Despite being a paid service, GoToMeeting improves on other similar free services, such as Skype or Google Hangouts, by having fewer connection issues (Skype) and being able to accommodate large groups (Google Hangouts only accommodates a maximum of 10 people).

Scenario 5: You spent months planning the perfect event but no one shows up

You can spend hours and days organizing the perfect event, securing the best venue and the most interesting speakers, but all effort will be lost if you don’t rack up the expected number of guests. Perhaps you did not have enough time or staff to promote the event but that doesn’t mean it has to be the end of your event-planning career.

Solution: Cvent

Cvent is an online event management tool that offers online event registration, venue selection, email marketing, and web survey services. With Cvent, you can ‘set it and forget it’ – simply send all your event details to Cvent and let it take care of all your emailers, registrations, and social media posts.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Crisis Management: How to put the fire out before it becomes an inferno

oh no

By: Phoebe Yong

It really depends on how you define “crisis.” Are you talking Bruce Jenner fatal car wreck or Brian Williams telling tall tales embarrassment?

(I hope) most of our business crises don’t qualify for five consecutive days of headline news. The majority of the bad publicity I’ve worked on includes escalating bad public perception of customer service, mishandling of private information, disgruntled ex-employees making very public statements, and a CEO not responding well to down spiraling stock prices.

For each of these situations, one common theme abides – be swift and forthright. Sounds simple right? But you would be surprised how many executives do not follow this obvious approach and instead avoid media, offer little or fragmented information and act supercilious. Public perception is paramount when a negative situation is unclear, confusing and frightening.

1. Be quick to respond and be honest

There is nothing worse than hearing, “They’ve told us nothing”, “We haven’t heard from them”, or “No one is say anything”. Often when there is a crisis, people impacted want to know what the company is doing about it, what the company knows, when they found out it, and who to contact.  It’s important to have procedures and processes in place within your organization that deals both with a formal sequence of communications internally and how to effectively communicate to the public. This includes having a company spokesperson(s), media liaison, and speech/copy-writers to help with public statements.  Act quickly and swiftly to show that you have your act together.

2. Be thorough, but not silent

Sometimes, you may need time to figure things out. For example, with a security breach I was working on, where private information had gone public, we knew there was a security breach but it took time to examine what had happened, numbers impacted and a course to take. While you’re figuring this out, and it’s important that you do to get your facts straight, don’t stay silent. Be open and prudent, acknowledge the situation and that you will be open with the public with any new findings.

3. Have someone likeable talking

Another obvious comment. This goes beyond being media trained. This is about having someone who speaks with clarity, command and compassion. Be likeable with the media and show empathy with the public to demonstrate you sincerely understand the problem at hand and offer a genuine course of action to fix the crisis.

A note from the author:
These notes were taken from many conversations with Magnolia’s Senior Communications Director, Jina You, who has spent over 20 years as a field journalist dealing with PR handlers and CEOs facing hot questions. Jina offers media training and crisis management consultation on what not to do in crisis management.

Img source: genius.com

Tagged , , , ,

Burning Bridges

By: Kristina Lee

Burning bridges can be a good thing, especially if you’re in any sort of relationship that does not offer growth and is dragging you down. But consider what’s at stake from not only the relationship you’re losing, but how much of your own integrity and reputation might be lost in the process.

With the nature of client relationships in an agency environment, it’s important to learn to nurture the relationship even when contracts are over and projects have been completed. Realize that how you end an active account is just as important as how you begin one.

Seth Godin says it best in this blog post:

Burning bridges

In action movies, the hero doesn’t mind destroying the aircraft, road or bridge he just crossed, because it’s always a one-way journey.

Retreating armies used to burn bridges as they crossed them so those in pursuit couldn’t follow.

And that very mindset, the mindset of, “I am so intent on my goal that I am willing to push through this person, push through this relationship, push through this interaction, whatever it takes,” is precisely how we burn our bridges.

The difference, of course, is that life is long and very few paths are only one way. You will need to come around here again.

A bridge well-crossed gets better over time. When you need to break it down to push through, you’ve not only hurt the person you trampled on, you’ve hurt your reputation.

img source: Borbay

Company Culture: The Key to Enjoying What You Do

corporateCulture3By: Genifer Rigor

There’s a magic equation for any desirable workplace that makes it one that is worth the early mornings and the late nights – somewhere between gratifying work, consistent challenges, and the obvious compensation and work-life balance, is company culture – the crème de la crème of any PR agency, or company for that matter.

Company culture is more than just open-concept spaces and foosball tables. There perhaps is nothing worse than an environment where challenging tasks are burdened all the more with a hostile top-down company culture. Workplace culture can be the difference between a sustainable and unsustainable organization and the reason for high or low turnover rates. It can also be the deciding factor for applicants when taking a job offer and an employer’s selling point when recruiting talent.

Company culture inspires creativity and productivity. Company culture is the organization’s mission and vision statements in the flesh. It drives the company with clarity by fostering transparency, honesty, and fun, all without compromising excellence. In the most well developed cultures can creativity truly thrive – its where fear of mistakes or judgement are at bay and new ideas and greater levels of motivation to perform are championed.

Company culture is the lifeblood of the workplace. When we think about how many years of our lives are spent at work, it wouldn’t be too far off to say that the workplace really does become a second home (and maybe even for some, a first). A solid company culture should alleviate workplace stress rather than add to it by promoting camaraderie as opposed to intimidation. When done right, company culture becomes a way of life – not just a set of lofty ideals.

The bottom line: We’d be lying to ourselves if we said that hard work is easy and enjoyable 100% of the time. The fact of the matter is we’ll be faced with some not so glamorous tasks, tight deadlines, and mistakes or misunderstandings along the way – but what makes any job worthwhile is undeniably the people alongside you and the culture that exists.

Image source: TVH


#FinishLine2014: Top 5 Marketing Events of 2014

In spirit of the year coming to a close, we reflect back on 2014’s most memorable events. After much deliberation and debate, we’ve compiled a Top 5 Marketing Events of 2014 list. May we learn from them and realize the power of marketing and media.

#5: P&G’s Always #LikeAGirl Campaign

With over 50 million views on Youtube, this video redefines the meaning of doing things “like a girl”

#4: The Fall of Jian Ghmoeshi


Where to even begin…To read about it: Click here

#3: Kim Kardashian’s ‘Break the Internet’ attempt (NSFW)

marketing event 3

Need we say more.

#2: Ebola Coverage


Informing or overhyping? And #FunFact, ‘ebola‘ was the third most searched term on Google.com, and fifth on Google.ca. Read more: Click here

#1: ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Raising over $16 Million in Canada, and $100 Million in the US, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was a major success in both raising funds and awareness.

Image Sources: CBC, TimesBerkeley Beacon

Tagged , ,

#AskMagnolia: Goal Setting 101

By: Michelle Chang

In case you needed a reminder, here it is: There are less than 2 weeks left in the year. You can almost hear ‘The Final Countdown’ playing in the background as you read this blog post.

goal image 4

This week, I asked Team Magnolia what are some goals they hope to achieve by the end of the year. Meet some of the team and read what they had to say about goal setting.

Kelly Choi, Marketing Communications Coordinator @ Magnolia Marketing Communications

Is there anything you’d like to accomplish by the end of 2014?

By the end of 2014, I want to finish updating my LinkedIn profile, create a list of goals for 2015, and spend more quality time with my family.

How have you been working towards realizing these goals?

Every week I schedule a specific time when I will update my LinkedIn Profile, and on a daily basis I’ll think about and write down goals I want to achieve in 2015. As for spending more time with my family, I’ve been exercising my authority to say ‘No, thank you’ to plans I do not need to attend. It’s all about making the conscious effort and taking the appropriate steps to achieve your goals.

What are some tips you use when setting and achieving goals?

  1. Time management is important. Set aside a few hours a week or a few minutes a day to work on your goals. Devote time with no distractions, i.e., Stop checking your Facebook, put your phone on airplane mode, etc.
  2. Be realist and specific!

Genifer Rigor, PR Assistant @ Magnolia Marketing Communications 

Please share one goal you’ve been working on this month.

I’ve been striving to manage my time better so that I can optimize each day

What are some strategies you use when you’re trying to accomplish a goal?

I always put my goals down on paper by making a list, a timeline, and simply breaking it down into actionable steps I can do each day. At work, before I leave the office I list down the things I need to get done the following day by priority. At home, I do the same thing before I go to bed. This gives me a clear outlook on my goals and ensures that nothing slips through the cracks.

How are you doing so far with this goal?

I’ve definitely been much more organized lately and have been able to manage my time better, which leads to being more productive. Even though I know I can still strive to be more efficient, there’s still a great sense of accomplishment when I cross off even the small items on my list.

What is some advice you can give to those setting resolutions for 2015?

With any goal, it’s important to dream big, but to also be realistic. Being realistic will help when unexpected factors come up. Much like working at a PR agency, it isn’t entirely rare for a priority to appear that was not expected. This is where being adaptable and open to change comes in – and perhaps that’s the greater goal to achieve at the end of the day!

Image Source: TheMotivatedType

Tagged ,

The Interview – It’s not about you, it’s about what you offer the employer

By Phoebe Yong, Principal, Magnolia

We’ve all heard the interview “advice” on how to prepare, how to land the job, how to impress….

At Magnolia, I interview candidates for available positions at the company, but when Magnolia goes after a new client, I see our first meeting as an interview too, only then we’re in the hot seat. When we pitch a company it’s very similar to pitching ourselves individually for a job. The same rules apply and the stakes are just as high.

There is the competition to consider.

How do you stand out? In the agency world, I often refer to it as a “beauty pageant” where several agencies come through the door to show and tell and at the end, a “winner” is crowned.

No different than a job interview this way.

Preparation shows you want the job.

During the interview it’s a given that you will be asked about your experience, attributes, and skillset to do the job. If you don’t have at least some of these, it isn’t the opportunity for you. But if you’ve researched well about the company, their offerings, what you think may be missing, their customer service, what differentiates them in the industry – this shows that you’ve made the conscious effort to learn about them and shows your keenness to contribute to their success. Come prepared with questions, commentary and insights to their business and be bold in asking thoughtful questions.

It’s not about you.

Certainly, the main reason for the interview is for your potential employer to find out more about you. Remember that at the end, the main goal is to find out if you’re the right fit and whether you have the right skillset to have a positive impact on the company and your team members. As such, the more you know about the company, the leaders or decision makers, the more you can be prepared to ask the right questions and have an engaging, insightful conversation to separate you from the pack.


Image source: http://www.efinancialcareers.com

Tagged ,

Mind The Gap: The Generations in Today’s Increasingly Digital Workplace

By: Kristina Lee

When you think Gen Y and Digital, they seem to be joined at the hip. In our increasingly hyperfied-Googlefied-pursuit-of-instant-gratification culture, Gen Y has grown up in an age where it’s all things digital. At this year’s Beyond Pink Vancouver conference, a panelist of Baby Boomers and Millenials got together to discuss what kind of impact Gen Y is having on the workplace today and what each generation can learn from one another.

Here are some key quotes and themes that resonated in the room and got a lot of heads nodding:

Embracing the power of being succinct – “I translate real life into 140 characters and my 19 year old mentee thinks in 140 characters.

What matters to millennials is a work, life balance that helps nurture their passions beyond their professional boundaries – “Having flexibility around time..take vacation when you want…as long as the work is done.

As young women in the workplace, we break barriers every day and need to continue showing each other support – “As we women climb the corporate ladder, don’t forget to cheer each other on.

You can view a short video here for a flavor of the discussion & tell us what you think!

PR/Marketing Careers: How to be an agency superstar

PR/Marketing Careers: How to be an agency superstar

By: Hanah Van Borek

Working at an agency might seem glamorous; you get to work on exciting events, launch amazing new products, and work alongside the media. However, behind the scenes, the hours are often long, the deadlines can at times be brutal, the clients tough to please, and the work itself challenging.

What better place to get your career in MarComm started? It comes down to experience, and in this industry if you show your keenness and have the right abilities, you’ll get to try your hand at a huge variety of projects and gain experience at a rate you never imagined possible.

No two days are typically the same and while you may master a good method for managing all these demands, you’ll almost always be learning new things along the way. That learning is also often much faster than usual; agencies work at an accelerated pace.

So think you’ve got what it takes and want to give it a try? Here’s a few key qualities that stand out to us agencies.

  • Team Player Attitude

Every person has their role in the agency; their strengths put together make it a success. Without the right level of cooperation and willingness to collaborate, the best results are not achievable. While employees may have ownership over their own projects, someone who is ready to step in and offer their skillset when they see the need is invaluable to the company.

  • Assertiveness

When challenges get in the way, an assertive person works through them and sees that the job gets done even without leadership. When this person sees the reigns loose, they take them with confidence. This in turn puts the team’s confidence in them.

  • Creativity

Creativity is a must for all aspects of the job, from brainstorming design concepts to developing PR angles, but where this really benefits the agency is in problem solving. When under the pressure of events and launches, for example, the ability to think on your feet and present solutions fast puts you ahead of the pack.

  • Determination

To not only meet but go beyond client expectations demands perseverance. If a client keeps coming back with new requests and time is running out to get results, someone who can rise to the challenge is a force to be reckoned with.

You only get one first impression – Make it count

first%20impressionBy: Phoebe Yong

Continuing our theme of making that first impression, I’ve across many resumes in my career. From entry level to mid-level management – all with one purpose – get a job.

I see resumes as an opportunity to tell a story. But this story is about you, the job candidate. Stories about your purpose, ambitions, skills, experience and interests. When you write that story about you to land that job, it needs to stand out and captivate your reader.

Here are some key considerations in writing your resume that makes a great first impression:

  1. Clean, professional looking – ensure your resume reads well which means the layout is well organized, easy to identify headings and subheadings, and consistent use of fonts. Taking pride in how you present your resume speaks directly about you and what type of employee you would be.
  1. Be purposeful – most resumes should not exceed over two pages. With limited space, ensure each section and the words you put in those sections are meaningful and has relevance. Customize your resume to the position, and take the time to ensure what you list as experience, objectives and interests are applicable and significant to your potential employer.
  1. wow%20factorThat “wow” factor – when you read a job posting, there tends to be a strong theme on what the candidate needs to have – whether it’s creativity for a web designer, technical acumen for a technical writer, social media savviness – ensure you highlight a skillset or achievement that matches this desired trait to leave a strong lasting impression.

It’s the strong lasting impression that will help you stand out from the rest of the crowd and help you land the job that you want.

Tagged , ,
%d bloggers like this: