social media, public relations, arts &culture.

Snow Globe Los Angeles

Snow Globe Los Angeles from All Cut Up Films on Vimeo.

This is a stunning video from All Cut Up Films featuring Los Angeles through a snow globe. I’m a sucker for time-lapse films, and this one takes a unique approach to the whole thing. The Sigur Ros also helps in evoking happy, dreamy memories. Check it out, it’s super beautiful.


Fine Oak Art School

My lovely friend Erica Beyea has started her own art school, and now teaches art classes in Toronto. I’ve been wanting to take some art classes for awhile now, and with the encouraging environment and small class sizes available at Fine Oak, it’s much less intimidating!

She’s offering three holiday art workshops running in December that I plan on attending. It will be a nice break from all the chaos the holidays always seem to bring, and a chance to meet some new people, have fun with friends and be creative! Each day will have a different theme: Dec 27- Portraits/Figurative Work, Dec 28 – Landscapes or Still Lifes, Dec 29 – Abstract. All days run 2 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Fine Oak also offers a plethora of classes, from portraiture and figurative drawing, painting, and watercolour to portfolio management. The unique thing about Fine Oak Art School is that each program is developed to suit each student’s individual goals.  Small class sizes of five or seven students ensure that each student gets the attention they require from the instructor, as well as a familiarity with other students and their work.

I truly admire her ambition and dedication, and can’t wait to drink, draw and be merry!

Check out all the art classes Fine Oak has to offer!

Nuit Blanche 2011

Having attended five out of six Toronto Nuit Blanche’s (and working with them as an intern last year) I have to say this was by far my favourite year. Being so immersed in all of the content last year taught me that when it comes to Nuit Blanche, planning pays off. Even if you only choose 10 exhibits to see, you’ll benefit from reading the guide and finding things you like. That said, I know something like 80% of Nuit Blanche attendants just show up and wander the streets. But not me! I picked up my guide early from City Hall, scoured every description and chose about 40 exhibits I wanted to see with about 5 “must-sees” starred and circled and highlighted.

This year seemed so much more accessible, way-finding was easier, art was easier to spot, I waited 10 minutes in line at the most, and everything seemed close together. We started off at The Bata Museum, entering another galaxy through CFC Media Lab’s Technological Displacement, a visual exploration of deep space using the whole body as the navigational instrument on a screen. Images of starry versions of ourselves were projected onto a screen where we could push around the other stars by waving our hands about.

Technological Displacement

We ventured on to Hart House, enjoying the group exhibition how far is near — how near is far and then made our way to MaRS for Richard Purdy’s L’écho-l’eau, one of my favourite exhibits of the night. The long corrider had been turned into a log filled pond which you could walk through and on top of the logs. Since I had dressed for the elements, it was lovely to cool my feet off walking through the water. 

We made our way across College Street to Yonge, where we walked up to Limelight: Saturday Night by Sans façon, where streetlights had been turned inward to construct a spotlight in the middle of the street. We only stayed for a moment since no one was in the spotlight, but I love this idea and the whole interaction of the piece, hearing the audience nudging their friends into the spotlight and the way in which the audience becomes the piece.

After that it was on to The Heart Machine by Christine Irving. Knowing that Irving’s Flux and Fire had won last year’s People’s Choice award, I put this exhibit at the top of my list, and it was definitely a favourite as well. I think my under-dressed friends also enjoyed the warmth provided by the installation. Protruding from a large central heart were four “arteries” each connected to sensors that, when touched, caused flames to shoot up to 25 feet into the air from 16 foot tall columns. It was exciting and beautiful, and made me feel connected to all of the participants standing in its vicinity.

Next we walked over to City Hall to take in Flightpath, by Usman Haque and Natalie Jeremijenko. With no intention of standing in the line, we were able to enjoy the experience through others, and it was a beautiful scene of flashing rainbow lights and angel winged beings soaring above.


By then it was almost 2am so we headed south to catch The Tie-Break, a performative re-enactment of the legendary fourth set tie-break from the 1980 Wimbledon Gentlemen’s Singles Finals between Björn Borg and John McEnroe by Tibi Tibi Neuspiel and Geoffrey Pugen. On the way we passed Camilla Singh’s Cardiac Combustion Chamber, an exhibit sponsored by Chevrolet. The best part of this was realizing one of our friends had jumped into the front of one of the stationary cars and was beckoning us to join. Another one of my friends hopped on his lap and was promptly told by the security guard that she had to exit since there weren’t enough seat belts in the (stationary) car, so my friend buckled the seat belt around both of them and that seemed to be acceptable. Hilarious!

We got to the The Tie-Break just as it was scheduled to start, and waited patiently as videos were shown to the crowd, but couldn’t see them as we were sitting on the far side of the stadium. Finally the players came out and the match was well played and lots of fun.

To end it all we popped into TIFF Bell Lightbox for Singin’ in the Dark: ’80s Edition. So much fun and great energy and the entire theatre turned into a singalong dance party. We danced up a storm and ended the art part of our night.

Kudos to Nuit Blanche for producing what I found to be the best Nuit Blanche yet. I can’t wait for next year!

What I love today:

The Cults album. ❤

Perfect to accompany all summer adventures.

Molson Coors & social media

Molson Coors’ target market is 19 to 24-year-old males. This audience definitely likes to be communicated with via social media, and that’s just what Molson Coors has done. With an engaging facebook fan page, twitter account, webpage, blog,YouTube channel and working with the Olympics, it seems as though Molson Coors has all bases covered. Is their approach effective? Through these platforms they can listen to their customers as well as communicate with them.

Molson Canadian’s blog, Molson in the Community, is written by Ferg Devins, Tonia Hammer (a Humber grad!), Sebastien Charbonneau, Carole Berry, Monique Dépatie, Bryan Cox, Amir Remtulla and Adam Moffat. While the blog is updated often, it seems that the comments are lacking. So this method isn’t so much effective in listening to its audience, but  communicates on their level. The comments that do appear seem to only be twitter retweets with links to the specific article. Perhaps if the blogs were more engaging and asked the readers to participate, they could generate more of an open dialogue.

They’re also not the only beer company blogging.

For the most part it seems the blog is only there to spout news about Molson in the community, and not to interact with their market. They also include very strict rules for commenting on their blog, “Molson blog is about Molson’s products and the community of Molson’s customers. Please keep all comments related to the subject matter of the post as off-topic or spam entries will be immediately deleted.” To me it seems that this goes against the very nature of discussion on the internet. Of course, spam comments would be deleted, but it seems interesting that they discourage all non-Molson talk. By reading the explanation of their blog, they’re doing exactly what they set out to do: keep people informed about Molson.

Check out the other aspects of Molson Coors’ social media campaign, and what my group members though. Kiel looked at their twitter, Erica became a fan on facebook, Cat looked at what they were doing with the Olympics, Niru took a look at their web page and Katy checked them out on YouTube.

Talk is cheap

Tonight I went to Centennial College’s unconference, Talk is Cheap, looking at trends in PR and social media. Some of the reoccurring themes that seem to be popping up across these networking and social media events I’ve been participating in over the last few months have to do with genuineness and transparency. The consensus out there is that, if you’re going to put yourself online, be your true self. People will figure it out otherwise. Be authentic. Be transparent. And in doing so, you learn to make more conscious choices.

One of my favourite quotes from tonight was “By broadcasting where you are, you’re broadcasting where you aren’t” said by Brad Buset of Espresso. He was referring to such sites as Please Rob Me, and the fact that without realizing it, or intending to do so, people are offering up all sorts of information about the fact that they aren’t home. And with more apps like Blippy, people are publicly cataloguing everything a criminal could steal from their house.

I find it interesting that this wealth of public information about our whereabouts and what we are doing is unintentional, because another amazing quote from tonight came from Leona Hobbs of Social Media Group. She paraphrased Seth Godin when she explained, “Online interactions are largely assumed to be intentional/on purpose.” A lot of the time, we don’t seem to realize this. But when you are posting something online, obviously you are putting it out there for people to see. So you better be sure it’s something you want people to be able to see.

Another amazing panel from tonight discussed the effect that social media had on the Haiti disaster, and how it really broke through the barriers to entry. It allowed real-time updates, and helped people to find their loved ones, and introduced the concept of donating through texting. Social media is new to all of us, especially in an emergency context, and this was one of the first times we really got to see the difference it can make.

As a PR and social media student, this unconference offered some great insights into the ways social media is changing how we do things, and prompted us to ask ourselves how much of ourselves we want to put online. Is it better to be searchable, or private? It’s all a personal decision, but by limiting your public online persona, you are limiting your engagement in that public conversation. I think what people will tolerate is shifting rapidly, and I’m excited to see the continuous shift in where social media takes us.

Vancouver 2010 Olympics & Social Media

Vancouver 2010 has been the first Olympics to experience social media in full force. During the Beijing Olympics, companies and events still hadn’t harnessed the use of social media as they are today. With the growing popularity of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, real-time updates are higher than ever before. Everyone watching the games can tweet about it. Olympic athletes can blog about their experiences, and update their Facebook statuses so everyone watching knows what’s going on. NBC has an Olympic Twitter tracker, which captures what the world is saying about the Olympics, right now.

This gives insight into how the public feels about the Olympics, what the athletes feel, and I would say makes it much more of a group experience. We can’t all be in Vancouver, but we can connect with people who are, and watch spectator videos on YouTube, look at Olympic photos on flickr and Facebook. Because of the shift in social media, the International Olympic Committee even loosened its policies on depictions of the rings in photographs, and is hosting their own flickr fan group page. Only accredited photographers are allowed to shoot from the media sections inside the Olympic venues. The IOC has traditionally prohibited people from sharing their Olympic photos, but it is now encouraging people to do so. Content is being shared with more freedom than in any other Olympic Games.

This affects the way the media has always had control over what goes out about the games, and opens much more of a dialogue to the general public. This is the first Olympic Games where a notable percentage of accredited media spots weren’t being filled. But the shift is helping to bring old and new media together, as people take note of the changes.

What an amazing experience and an incredible way to feel a part of the Olympics in 2010.

Update: I found it interesting that a study just conducted in Maryland looked at kids being addicted to social media, but that they still got their news for big events like the olympics from the newspaper. Social media may have greatly infiltrated the accessibility of the olympics this time around, but traditional media still has a place. In the article, students were asked to go 24-hours without the use of any sort of social media.  students are accustomed to consuming news through social media, which is why i find it interesting that they would still turn to traditional media for the Olympics. Or perhaps it’s just a union of the two.

Effects of social media

In Understanding Media (1964), Marshall McLuhan proposes that media is consumed through different degrees of participation, or “hot” and “cool.” Hot media requires less participation, whereas cool media requires more thought and interaction from the user. This makes social media a very cool medium.

Social media is changing so much about our society. It empowers us to form communities of interest, drives us to enhance content and offer our opinion in various new ways that were once impossible – through video, sound, images and editing to name a few.

McLuhan summarized his ideas about media in a concise tetrad of media effects in the books Laws of Media (1988) and The Global Village (1989). The tetrad analyzes any medium through four main questions:

  • What does the medium enhance?
  • What does the medium make obsolete?
  • What does the medium retrieve that had been obsolesced earlier?
  • What does the medium flip into when pushed to extremes?

These categories exist simultaneously, not successively or chronologically. So what does the tetrad mean for social media?

  • Enhancement (figure): What the medium amplifies or intensifies. Social media intensifies the ability to communicate, create and interact. It intensifies the feeling of always being “on” because we are constantly connected to everyone else. Social media is public relations in the online world.
  • Obsolescence (ground): What the medium drives out of prominence. Social media reduces the importance of traditional media, and gives more of a voice to everyone. It reduces the one-way flow of communication, which is beneficial to PR for listening to its publics.
  • Retrieval (figure): What the medium recovers which was previously lost. Social media returns our control over content, and promotes transparency and authenticity. Blogs must be written by the person who is supposed to be writing them, and the posts must be true and genuine. For public relations, this means creating a personal brand for yourself online.
  • Reversal (ground): What the medium does when pushed to its limits. Can no longer tell the difference between reality and sponsored conversation. Public relations is often more believable because it doesn’t have the same stigma as advertising, but if more sponsored conversation appears online this could start to change. Can create misinformation, self-appointed policing and fluff.

McLuhan proposed that technologies alter us very much as though they really were extensions of us. Social media takes us out of being passive content consumers and shifts us into being creators. We must remember that we are the creators, the innovators – we choose what direction social media takes us. The future impact of social media is not yet understood by organizations. As McLuhan put it, “Living on the edge of change is terrifying.”

Not being Erica

Being Erica is one of my favourite television shows. It’s relatable, filmed in Toronto, and the main character gets to travel back in time. It’s one of the best Canadian shows out there. Erica Strange is a 32-year-old woman, played by the lovely Erin Karpluk, who doesn’t know where she’s going in life. Suddenly she gets the opportunity to travel back in time to meaningful events from her past. She then gets to alter them if she chooses, or keep things the same.

As a marketing precursor to the show, CBC debuted Erica’s Blog. They wanted to include social media with the show and generate awareness. Erica blogs again at the beginning of the second season. I wonder if it matters that a real person would not be wise to blog about such topics so openly. She includes vlogs about having terrible days at work, and complains about her parents. Most of the vlogs are rants about a character that does not appear on the show. On her own blog, Erica has too much neurosis, but on the show it works with the balance of plot and other characters. It would be much more compelling if it related more directly to the show and wasn’t some sort of weak comedic satire of co-worker related drama. The problem is that she’s not being Erica. If she was, I think the blog could be really successful.

I don’t like what her blog has to offer, but the show continues to have engaging content. I will keep watching on television, but not online.

Why Grooveshark rocks!

Grooveshark lets you access music at any time, any place. It’s one of the most expansive, customizable, and feature-rich online jukeboxes on the Web, and it’s completely free to use.

  1. Type a song in the box and hit enter.
  2. Hit the tiny “+” next to your song choice and it gets added to your playlist.
  3. Hit play!

Grooveshark is so popular because it has an extensive library of music – 7 million songs as of October 2009. Plus, it is available for use in Canada, unlike Pandora or Spotify.

You can “follow” other users and see what they are listening to. This creates a sense of community and keeps you informed of new music. Follow me on grooveshark!

Grooveshark’s blog has info about their new Facebook application, how to add playlists to your WordPress, and their new iPhone app.

Grooveshark runs out of Gainesville, Florida. Founded in 2006 by Sam Tarantino, CEO, Josh Greenberg, CTO + VP of Products, and Andres Barreto, Grooveshark works on a freemium business model. Click here to find out their user stats.

Like many online music streaming sites, it has issues with copyright. If Grooveshark doesn’t last, I still see the trend of online streaming continuing. However, I hope that their new partnership with EMI means they are here to stay.

Why Grooveshark is useful for PR:

  • to watch user trends in music
  • establish a community of go-to users on the watch for new music
  • track user choices and track your artist if you sign up through the Grooveshark Artists section

Check out Hayley’s blog to find out more!