Recapping Sam Sullivan’s 11th Public Salon

Tonight, I attended my first Public Salon–an event hosted by former Vancouver mayor Sam Sullivan and the Global Civic Policy Society. Seven speakers had seven minutes to tell a story that expanded our minds. Listening to each, I felt that each was able to inspire by sharing their personal stories and what drives them to excel.

The speakers ranged from Shari Graydon who tries to correct the prevalent gender bias among media by empowering women to step up as experts to Myriam Laroche, the founder and President of Eco Fashion Week, and The Right Honourable Michaelle Jean who is now a UNESCO envoy. Jean has also recently launched her own foundation to enable Canada’s youth to become changemakers.

Since so many folks did an excellent job of tweeting gems from the evening, I’ve collected the best in a tweet transcript powered by Storify. One thing is clear: we need more events like these in Vancouver! Please help spread the word so we can continue to hear from the city’s best and brightest.

Live Blogging with CoverItLive

Lately, I’ve been live blogging more frequently at local events like Me in Media, Inside Stories and Lost in Translation?.  On a few occasions, I’ve been asked for tips on how to successfully create a live blog, leading to this entry.

There are a few free online tools available to live bloggers as Nancy Messieh outlines in 3 Easy Methods to Live Blog. But I’ll focus exclusively on CoverItLive, which is the service I use when live blogging.

I like CoverItLive, because it’s (1) free, (2) highly customizable, (3) allows me to embed its code in my WordPress site, and (4) offers basic analytics.


I set up each Live Event in advance—ideally, a week or two before the event.
Click on any image in the slider to see the full-size screenshot.

Add New

Login to CoverItLive and select "Add New."

CoverItLive Home Page

Event Details

Enter your event’s details, including date, time and title

.CoverItLive Live Event Details


Customize Settings

Customize a range of settings for your Live Blog.CoverItLive Options


Twitter Feed

You can automatically publish tweets from a particular user and/or tweets with your event’s hashtag.

CoverItLive Twitter

Grab Code

Grab the code to place the Viewer Window in your site.

CoverItLive iFrame Code

CoverItLivealso enables you to add links, photos, videos and prewritten text like your panelists’ bios to a Media Library in advance. I love this feature because it means I don’t have to scramble during an event to find relevant information to publish.

At the Event

Login to CoverItLive to launch your event. Then, double-check your website to ensure that the Viewer Window is working properly. As always, it’s worthwhile to arrive early and work out any kinks, like Wi-Fi access, before any event gets underway.

Initially, I managed my live blog via CoverItLive’s console. But the downside is that you can’t engage with others who are live tweeting at the same event—remember, your live blog is accessible to those on your website and not those following the hashtag on Twitter.

To address this problem, I now set up each live blog to automatically publish any tweets from my Twitter feed. This allows me to continue engaging on Twitter with others who are at the event, while automatically feeding content directly to my live blog.

Regardless of which tool you use, try to have a couple of people who are sending content to the live blog—one can provide colour commentary while the other offers a blow-by-blow account of the event. I find it’s too difficult for one person to take on both roles, because it’s hard to provide analysis on top of accurately documenting what people are saying or doing.

Post Event

Once your event comes to a close, remember to end it on CoverItLive. Now, you’ll have a great transcript of the whole thing on your website ready to be replayed at any time.

Got a cool tip for how to get the best out of CoverItLive? Leave a comment or email me.


Why I’m Paying Attention to LinkedIn

Seven Takeaways for Marketers
Tracy Bains LinkedIn profile
I’m an avid user of LinkedIn—one of over 120 million professionals from more than 200 countries and territories who have signed up to manage their business identity, keep current with industry news, or search for jobs on this social network.

But when I put together a marketing plan, LinkedIn isn’t necessarily the first place I think to advertise. Since I work in the non-profit sector—higher education by day, community development by night—it hasn’t been a natural fit.

At least that’s what I thought entering this week’s LinkedIn Marketing Innovation session in Vancouver. After spending a couple of hours learning more about this platform, I’m starting to mull over how I can use LinkedIn’s sophisticated customer segmentation for my business needs. At the very least, it’s important to keep up-to-speed on what’s possible on this platform—even if I can’t apply that knowledge immediately.

Seven Takeaways

  1. At Ad Week this year, LinkedIn will announce a new feature: Company Pages will allow status updates similar to how you can post what you’re doing on your personal profile.
  2. LinkedIn’s ability to target customers is unparalleled, leading to precise segmentation by profession, gender, title, seniority, age, industry, connection size, company size, company name, geography, group targeting, education, language and influence.
  3. In Canada, a minimum budget to be effective is $10,000. This applies to campaigns that involve custom polls, banner ads or sponsored messages via InMail.
  4. A self-serve portal allows even marketers with small budgets like me to access some of LinkedIn’s power.
  5. There are nearly one million Groups on LinkedIn—some good, some bad. If you’re considering starting a Group, consider the fact that you’ll likely need to pay for advertising to attract followers.
  6. Interactive LinkedIn Content Ads are morphing banner ads into microsites, featuring rich opportunities for engagement like videos, webcasts and content for download.
  7. Build your Company Page—you own this space so use it strategically to share your story, including a showcase for your Products and Services.

Do your marketing efforts include LinkedIn? Share your wins, lessons and wish list items below.

Buzzing after #KaiNagata Talk at SFU

Is TV News Journalism Salvageable?
Photo credit: SFU Woodward’s

Why do we continue to watch TV news when the end product is superficial and designed to either placate viewers or play to our fears?

Is TV journalism salvageable?

That was the starting point for Kai Nagata’s talk at SFU’s Goldcorp Centre for the Arts earlier this week.

Rebuttals were made by long-time broadcaster George Orr, CBC Radio’s Kathryn Gretsinger,‘s Steve Anderson, and SFU communications instructor Bob Hackett who is also the co-founder of Media Democracy Day. Veteran journalist and UBC instructor Deborah Campbell moderated the discussion.

Since Nagata left his position as CTV’s Quebec Bureau Chief this summer and published Why I Quit, the blog post has generated 500,000 hits and 1,450 comments.

So I was excited to hear from him in person. Nagata didn’t disappoint. He’s passionate about the institution, and hopeful for the future and the potential to empower citizens to become “volunteer journalists” (a la volunteer firefighters) using open-source, online training that doesn’t leave students in debt like traditional j-schools.

By his own admission, it’s a working idea that’s still baking and will likely change and evolve over the course of three years—a self-imposed time limit.

But, of course, it’s his commitment to his craft that I find most compelling and magnetic.

Plus, I admire his willingness to show a clip of his own work and critique its shortcomings in front of peers, mentors and strangers.

I also enjoyed hearing from George Orr who made it clear that the idea of a “golden age” of Canadian reporting is a myth, idealizing a past that never existed. He also succinctly revealed the pitfalls of modern reporting, but didn’t just glibly mouth tired excuses about deadlines and diminishing resources. For example, Orr outlined the desk’s overwhelming desire for conformity that punishes reporters who stray too far from what their competitors produce. And how Google has helped dumb down media, lulling reporters into doing a simple browser search instead of doing their own research over the phone or in person.

It was an excellent discussion and I walked away buzzing with all that’s possible when professional journalists and citizen media start collaborating together.

Julie Ovenell-Carter live tweeted the evening so I’ve pulled together a transcript below of her tweets if you’re interested in a post-by-post replay of the evening.

Vancouver’s hungry for open dialogue on media and ethncity

Me in Media: The Team
Photo credit: Jeremy Lim

Last Tuesday, the United Nations Association in Canada and Schema Magazine co-hosted Me in Media, a public town hall to explore how we can make Vancouver a more inclusive city through media.

CoopCulture helped sponsor the event and, as its Director of Online Media, I put together the social media strategy to promote this free event.

As always, it’s gratifying to see an event come together after months of patient planning over coffee, Skype calls, phone calls and Google Docs.

But most importantly, it’s invigorating to be in a room filled with likeminded people who are passionate about the same thing that drives us to volunteer our time: how we can use media to make positive change.

Over the course of two hours, people sent out 352 tweets that included the event’s hashtag, #meinmedia, and we became a trending topic in Vancouver.

Screenshot of Trendsmap showing trending topics in Vancouver

Five days after the event, the number of total tweets has risen to 661. In fact, the most recent 50 tweets have reached 20, 453 people and produced 47,707 impressions according to TweetReach.

Screenshot of Tweetreach, showing reach of most recent 50 tweets for #meinmedia


The numbers show how hungry we are for more events like #NetCulture and Me in Media where we can come together, be candid and brainstorm new ideas.

Check out our live blog below for a tweet-by-tweet transcript of the evening.

What do you think our next town hall should tackle?

Freelance Camp 2011: Storify

I attended this year’s Freelance Camp at The Network Hub’s new digs in New Westminster. The event is an unconference for freelancers. Like any unconference, the day’s agenda is shaped by those who attend rather than pre-programmed weeks in advance by a committee.

I’m not a consultant but have worked with many freelance writers and designers over the years. And I’m regularly asked by friends and colleagues why I haven’t thought about freelancing myself.

The truth is it’s scary. So, I attended Freelance Camp this year to check out the scene and see if I had what it takes to be a successful freelancer.

Here’s an archive of my favourite tips and ah-ha moments. Be warned–it’s a stream of tweets from multiple sessions. If it seems chaotic, try processing all of that information in real time!

One of the themes of the day was the need to be “selflessly grateful” as Raul Pacheco-Vega put it in his session on productivity. In that spirit, I’d like to thank The Network Hub and all of the folks who volunteered to make this event a success. Plus, all of the proceeds from ticket sales are going to charity!

Rebecca and Tracy Speak: Headstart 2011

Last year, I met Rebecca Johnston right before a panel hosted by Third Tuesday Vancouver got underway at Ceili’s Irish Pub & Restaurant .

This September, we’ll be co-presenting at Headstart 2011, a grassroots conference run by and for Royal LePage realtors across Canada.

During the intervening months, Rebecca and I have become good friends, sharing war stories from our professional lives as well as our personal aspirations, interests and foibles. When she asked if I’d be interested in working together with her on a presentation for Headstart 2011, I jumped.

We’re now putting the final touches on our presentation entitled “Making the Message Matter: Five Dos and Don’ts of Successful Communication for Realtors.”

Working with Rebecca, I’ve learned (or been reminded of) a few key lessons:

  • Tell a story. When planning your script, don’t forget that people love a good story. We’re wired for storytelling and listening, not dry statistics. I can geek out when it comes to social media and content so Rebecca has pulled me back from the ledge a few times.
  • You are your presentation—not your slides. God knows, I despise PowerPoint. But it’s easy to get sidetracked and let the software drive your story if you let it. Rebecca has prompted me to remember that the slides should play a supporting role like a prop in a play.
  • Set the ground rules for collaboration early. Rebecca and I are both writers  and both passionate about content. We worked together during the early brainstorming stage and then decided to draft two complete scripts on our own. We’re in the process of collating the two scripts together now. This has worked out very well for us—Rebecca is great at setting the stage and providing context whereas I like to dive in to the “body” of the presentation right away.

I’m sure there’ll be more to make note of as we get closer to September and start practicing how we want to deliver the presentation. Do you have any tips to share? Drop a comment to share your killer presentation ideas or tell me what you hate presenters do!

Owning Your Accomplishments

IABC 2011 Bronze Quill Awards Gala

Photo credit: Vincent L. Chan

“The last time I was here, I was attending a wedding,” I laughed and told my new dinner companions at Table 8 in the Law Courts Inn Restaurant last week. We were attending the 2011 IABC/BC Bronze Quill Awards Gala, recognizing the best communicators in BC.

Once again, I was at the restaurant to celebrate but this time as one member of a team that had won an Award of Merit in the Community Relations category.

A few weeks earlier, I submitted my first application for an IABC/BC Bronze Quill Awards. In it, I outlined Transportation Consultation 2010, a campaign in which we reached out to UBC’s campus community to identify where permanent bus facilities should be located after an underground bus terminal was cancelled due to funding. A suite of online and offline strategies were employed to ensure we gathered feedback from as many members of the public as possible.

Afterwards, I went on vacation and tried to forget about the evaluation process. This year, Accredited Business Communicators (ABC) from IABC’s Regina chapter judged all of the submissions from BC.

When I returned from vacation, I was pleased to see that we’d won an Award of Merit.

‘Not bad,’ I thought to myself, ‘but they must give an award to everyone who applies.’ I fully expected to see an army of local industry professionals marching up to receive their trophies at the Gala.

But that wasn’t the case. On the night of the Gala, only five Awards of Excellence and two Awards of Merit were awarded—for the entire province.

Hearing about what my peers were doing, made me proud—of them and myself. To be recognized alongside the likes of Vancity, ICBC and UBC communicators from other departments forced me to stop diminishing my own accomplishments and own them.

I congratulate all of this year’s award winners. This was a great experience and I encourage others to participate in the upcoming Silver Quill Awards.

I’d like to give special thanks to all of the diligent, hardworking volunteers who managed the competition and then hosted a great celebration.

Social Media for Social Change

Tweet Transcript of a Community Workshop

Last week, Social Media Club Vancouver and the Projecting Change Film Festival (PCFF)  co-presented a workshop to help change agents learn tips and tricks for using social media to support their projects. For a full recap, see my friend Yuri’s comprehensive post.

Proceeds from the workshop went to support PCFF which starts Thursday, May 26 and runs to Sunday, May 29.

Since I love using Storify to document events, I put together key tweets, pix and vids for anyone who missed the event.

Gauge Mobile Launches Scanvee to Manage Mobile Barcodes

Gauge Mobile from DreamLife Design Inc. on Vimeo.

Mobile Barcode Usage in Canada
During the fourth quarter of 2010, Canada showed a 442% growth rate in mobile barcode usage. Mobile barcodes are two-dimensional (2D) images that connect print information like a poster to interactive experiences on a mobile device, such as an online contest.

According to 3GVision, the global pioneer and leader in mobile barcode solutions, Canada claims top spot among growing mobile barcode markets.

With such explosive growth in mind, I jumped at the chance to attend Scanvee’s launch party on Monday, May 16, 2011. Scanvee is a new mobile management platform from Gauge Mobile.

Why use Scanvee?

  • Scanvee uses both QR Codes and Data Matrix barcodes—two open source formats that are considered industry standard. Most smartphones with a reader will be able to scan these formats unlike proprietary mobile barcodes like Microsoft Tags that can only be decoded by specific applications.
  • Strong, live-time analytics allows you to track each campaign’s performance, including the total number of scans, type of phone used, location and time of each scan. A representative of Newad, an agency specializing in advertising that targets the young and affluent, spoke at the event about how they had used Scanvee at the University of Calgary. Based on the analytics, Newad adjusted when their other promotions took place on campus, noting that students appeared to have more down time in the afternoon than in the morning when the agency had originally been setting up.
  • All barcodes are dynamic and can be updated to perform new tasks at any time. You don’t have to reprint pieces because the barcodes have expired, extending the shelf life of your creative.

Why skip Scanvee?

  • The analytics are available to users only for a 15-day trial. Premium users get access to unlimited analytics but these accounts run a steep $24.99 per month to start or $249.99 per year.

The model is sound—we’ve seen many successful freemium services like Flickr where the analytics are available only to paying customers.

But I haven’t even shelled out for Hootsuite yet and I love that program. Really—I talk about it all the time. I use it every single day for my personal, nonprofit and corporate accounts. And it’s only $5.99 per month.

Still, Scanvee is promising and I’ll be looking for a good opportunity to pilot their platform. Based on my 15-day analytics trial, I’ll determine if I can make the case for a premium account.

Have you used mobile barcodes in a campaign? Drop a comment to share your best practices.