A recap, review and impressions: iPhone 5: David Gauthier

So, in case you’ve been living under a rock for the last couple of days, you should know that Apple announced the iPhone 5 yesterday.

As usual all kinds of reviews have been published in the last 24 hours. I thought I would take this chance to go over some of the finer points of the release, and to offer some of my own thoughts.

But first, a quick recap on what you may have missed: (Full keynote available here)

The iPhone 5 is 18% thinner and 20% lighter compared to the now ‘vintage’ iPhone 4S. It will ship with Apple’s latest mobile operating system: iOS6. For the first time since the introduction of the iPhone, Apple has increased the screen size from 3.5″ to 4″. This increase in real estate has without a doubt been brought on by emerging trends in the smartphone market this last year. This offers a taller display, and the addition of a fifth row of icons on the home screen. They have also added the A6 chip, offering roughly twice the speed as the iPhone 4S. Apple has also (finally) introduced LTE wireless speeds offering a theoretical maximum speed of 100 Mbps.  This is another feature Apple needed to add in order to catch up with their competition.

As you can see from the picture above, the iPhone 5 has also received a complete re-design with a two-toned aluminum and glass plated design.

So, this is certainly a solid smartphone, by any standards. So why are we seeing mixed reactions with the words ‘underwhelming’ and ‘ disappointing’ coming up so often?

Well, this year at the D10 conference, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced that Apple would be ‘doubling-down’ on secrecy in order to prevent future product leaks. The problem is that in the weeks following the D10 conference, Apple fans witnessed an abundance of leaks of the iPhone 5. The design was leaked, revealing the new two-toned backing, the new dock connector, and even the chips inside the phone were made public. As you can imagine, this didn’t leave much to imagination for developers and engineers, who were able to understand the function of the guts of the iPhone at a glance.

I think what we were waiting for was a ‘one more thing’ moment. If you’re unfamiliar, this is the phrase Steve Jobs often used when unveiling a dazzling feature or product when he hosted keynotes. It’s the introduction he used to show the world the first video call ever done on a consumer device via FaceTime.

The problem is that right now, technology is moving so rapidly, the margins for revolutions are shrinking. I don’t think we’re anywhere near capping the possibilities of what we can do with mobile devices. But for now, we probably won’t see a holographic keyboard any time soon

So, should you buy it?

The iPhone 4/S upgrade was a tricky one. With the introduction of Siri and few other features, it put a ton of customers in the grey area of upgrades. However, I can say with confidence that the iPhone 5 is a far greater leap for an upgrade than the 4 to the 4S ever was.

Factor in LTE speeds. Think about the A6 chip and the smoothness it offers to the experience. The re-design. Marginally longer battery life. A bigger, better display. Better call quality with three microphones built into the phone.

Anyway, that’s what I would focus on. I won’t be upgrading due to a student budget and not being able to afford the luxury of a new $700 phone ever year… for now.

But, to close:

Will this ‘disappointing’ launch of the iPhone affect the longevity of Apple’s flagship phones? Absolutely not. As many publications have already noted, Apple has once again put itself in a position to break records for this coming holiday season.

Do you intend to pick up the new iPhone? Do you plan on boycotting Apple altogether after this launch? What’s your opinion?

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Guest Post: Michael Schechter

This week Michael Schechter of a Better Mess and the Mikes on Mics podcast was able to answer some questions for us.

Here’s what he had to say.

Q: Michael, as an avid technology buff, how has your obsession with productivity and technology come together to directly impact your career?

The obsession really started when I faced the harsh truth that things weren’t quite coming together in my career. I wasn’t progressing as quickly as I would have liked and began to accept that a big part of this struggle was my inability to keep track of and finish my work. I was so focused on trying to get through the day that I never took the time to figure out how to best move through it. I’ve still got room to grow, but ever since I took a step back to rebuild a better foundation for myself, I’ve started seeing progress.

It’s also helped me be far more realistic about my own abilities. I’m just not capable of managing my ambitions in my head and I’m not capable of doing it on paper (I’m fairly certain that paper is the root of all evil and that it is out to get me). Technology has always been the right tool, but taking the time to find the right technology and crafting the right workflows is starting to help get my career back on track.

Q: Are all of the changes you go through positive?

Of course not. Change, even positive change, can wreak havoc in one’s life and career. I’m trying to discover the best way that I work, but I also have to be realistic that my way will not always work for those who work with me. So it’s a matter of finding a system that works for me, but has the least possible negative impact for others. I’ve mitigated this as much as possible by letting others know what I’m attempting to do and asking them to be honest when it gets in the way.

I’m also a bit concerned with tech addiction. I’ve come to count deeply on devices and that means they are never all that far from my side. It lends itself to bad habits (like constantly check them when I shouldn’t be). I need to be doing more to balance this out, especially at home around my wife and kids, but one struggle at a time…

Q: Does your specific way of working limit you at work?

I don’t think it has. As I said earlier, I do my best not to let my workflows get in the way of others and I feel as if I’m dropping less balls. I am, however, only one of two Mac users in our office, so this can create some friction. I always make this friction my problem and find a way to work around it. I’m also lucky. The Citrix server we run in our office makes it easy to get into our main system while remaining on my Mac. I’ve run into a few challenges over the years. Most of them had more to do with file compatibility than anything else, but more often than not, I’ve found that there’s a solution. This decision also means that I have to serve as my own IT department, but I tend to enjoy that (probably a bit too much).

Q: Does your genuine curiosity with these things tend to benefit you?

I certainly hope so, but it depends on the context. My curiosity for the technology itself is often a distraction. A new Apple device or new app isn’t going to necessarily improve much (regardless of what that voice inside my head tends to tell me). I’m prone to trying shiny new things, but I’ve found that the time spent switching and learning a new app rarely pays off when you already have something that’s working.

That said, the curiosity surrounding workflow has provided a far greater return. By discovering the best way that I can work and identifying what my problems are, I’ve had a far better track record of identifying the right tools and tactics for improving. As my understanding of the way I work improves, so has the filter for deciding where to spend my time rather than wasting it on every new release. Knowing what I’m looking for keeps me from trying everything that comes my way. Otherwise I’ll only manage to think about how I do the work and never quite get around to actually doing it.

– How do technology and workflows affect the way you work?

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Guest writer Erika White

This week Dave and I have the pleasure of featuring a dear friend of mine, Erika White. Everyone talks about the advantages of social media for a company, so we thought it’d be interesting to hear what Erika had to say about the disadvantages in one of her own blog posts from earlier this year.  

I Think Therefore I Blog – Disadvantages of Social Media Marketing

Social media is a wonderful tool in the world of marketing. Most of us know and understand the many advantages of using social media to connect with consumers, but what are some of the DISADVANTAGES, and what happens when social media campaigns fail?

One major downfall of social media is that many companies feel pressure to use it, but don’t fully understand how to use it well. “Oh ya, and I want a tweet please”. Just because the technology is available doesn’t mean it should be used. Improper use of social media can be very harmful to a company. A spoiled reputation online can travel faster than chicken pox in a 1st grade classroom. Messages aren’t just being seen by a couple hundred people, they are seen by a couple thousand people, and those thousand people are showing all of their friends.

Here are a couple examples of when social media went wrong.
1) In the heat of their “Imported from Detroit” campaign the Chrysler Twitter feed was “hacked” and this lovely message was tweeted.

It very well might be true that the account was hacked, but apparently Chrysler failed to combat the tweet with any damage control.  A very big no-no in social media.

2) In spring of 2011 Molson Canadian launched a campaign that asked consumers to submit photos of themselves “enjoying” Molson Canadian beer to the Facebook page for a chance to win a trip. This campaign failed miserably for a couple of reasons, the main one being that it promoted underage drinking. Consumers, who were underage, submitted photos. These photos were then seen all over the Facebook page, and used as free photography for media campaigns. There was a huge back lash against Molson by parents and universities. It was a huge PR nightmare.

3) Skittles was so confident in social media it re-launched its homepage into a social media extravaganza. The idea was to let consumers fill in the brand message. Big mistake. At first it didn’t seem like such a bad idea. Twitter was shut down because the site was so popular. By the second and third day of the campaign, however, the site was filled with profane messages.

Social media can be a great tool, but companies need to first understand how to use it and use it well. They also need to find balance between consumer interaction, and brand messaging. Not only is it lazy advertising to let consumers say who you are, it’s also not a very smart idea. Social media is meant for listening, and reacting.

Erika White is a recent graduate of Algonquin College’s Advertising program. Her creativity and knack for writing has landed her a full-time position as copywriter/ marketing communications assistant at LAUNCHFIRE, an interactive promotions company. Her work has also been featured on BrandSlide.ca.

You can check out this article and others on Erika’s blog: http://eezypeazyee.wordpress.com/author/eezypeazyee/

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Guest Post: Andrea Petruzella

This week DASH Communications caught up with one of our very own professors, Andrea Petruzella, and asked her a few questions. Here’s what she had to say.

1. At the beginning of your career, did you at any point feel unsure about the direction you were heading in? Were you always able to follow your passions, or did you find yourself making a lot of sacrifices?

I can quite honestly say that at the beginning of my career I barely understood what PR was!

I studied biology at university hoping to work in health promotion and preventative medicine, and this trail eventually led me into PR, including work for the pharmaceutical industry and patient advocacy groups.

Because public relations touches every kind of organization you can think of, a career in PR offers so many opportunities to follow your passions into your job, and has definitely done this for me.

I would never recommend sacrificing what is important to you in a workplace culture or field of work. But I would say that it is extremely important to keep an open mind throughout your entire career about how your passions might be fulfilled as different doors open for you.

An organization, cause or company that doesn’t seem sexy or in line with your ambitions at first glance might actually offer the perfect foundation to set you on your path.

For example if your passion is charitable work but you find yourself struggling to find a way in, you could consider working for the community relations or philanthropic team in a for-profit organization.

By nurturing your passion, building a network, and then being creative and open-minded in your job search approach, you will build a rewarding and satisfying career.

2. Having worked abroad yourself, you know what it’s like to work away from your home, friends and family. What is the most important piece of advice you could offer students wishing to find placements in other cities and countries?  *You don’t have to limit this to professional advice.

Pack patience and a sense of humour. Remember that getting settled into a job and a social network will not happen overnight but will happen in time.

Working abroad is enriching and offers so many benefits whether you are planning a short-term or long-term stay.

Even if on the surface the culture and language of your destination country appear similar to the one you coming from, there will always be an adjustment period and moments of feeling a bit lost.

If you are going from a smaller PR market to a larger one, you may have to work a bit harder to prove your skills and knowledge when you are starting out.

3. Based on your own experience, what are some major differences between working for a large multi-national company and for a smaller local organization?

There are many differences but here are some of the biggest.

PR for a multinational organization

Big budgets: Working for a big, networked client can bring the benefit bigger project budgets, which can be an asset for innovative campaign planning.

Slow approval: Unfortunately, a bigger company also usually means it takes longer to approve PR projects, as bigger teams, additional layers of management, and the need for consistent and centralized planning and slow the process.

Third party management: Broadly speaking, working for a larger organization often means more third party management, whether that be managing graphic designers, or event organizers, or even niche media specialists to assist with PR initiatives. Your role is very focused on PR and you work with a rich team.

PR for a local organization

Ideas into action: Working for a small, independent organization can often mean the opportunity to implement a creative idea quickly. Because the strategy does not have to align with a larger brand and the decision-makers are usually all in one building, both proactive and reactive PR initiatives can be organized quickly.  Unfortunately the budget is not always available for the really ‘big’ ideas in smaller companies.

More hands-on: On smaller teams, you will usually end up playing a more hands-on role, often contributing in areas outside your specific expertise. It would be common for a PR practitioner to create content for any job, but in a smaller setting you might also be asked to handle the newsletter design, or create the website for example.

Have your voice heard: Again because of geography, in a small organization you have usually have the potential to work more closely with the decision-makers, which can mean getting to know the brand more intimately and having your voice heard.

4.Do you think the future of the public relations industry is secure?

I think this is a really exciting time to be entering public relations.

News and information consumption and sharing habits are changing so quickly. Traditional news gatekeepers like tv broadcast and daily papers are evolving, new technologies are emerging and seeing rapid, global adoption (the tablet computer has been adopted more ubiquitously than any communication technology before it), and new social media tools are emerging – and dying – daily.

These changes are creating so many new ways for organizations and stakeholders to interact, which leads to richer relationships. It also means that stakeholders have a platform to share their honest experiences and feedback on a broad scale, putting the organization’s reputation now more than ever in the hands of its audience.

PR’s job has always been to drive this stakeholder interaction, build these relationships, and build trust and maintain credibility among consumers. Now that these elements are becoming ever more central to the traditional marketing mix, the role for PR is more important than ever.

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“Apple’s restrictive guidelines and the AirParrot solution”

Hello everyone,

Last month Apple unveiled a new version of their operating system. For many people this was simply a 20 dollar software upgrade for their Macs. For others, it was a working wireless solution to stream and mirror from their Macs to their televisions.

All you need is an Apple TV and, boom, you have wireless mirroring. You can sit from your couch and watch as your widescreen TV becomes your new monitor- sans wires. That’s how it will work for some people. But for most of us, it’s just out of reach. As usual, Apple has set some pretty firm restrictions on this feature. No Mac older than a 2011 model is ‘capable’ of utilizing it. You can view the entire list of restricted Macs here.

Enter AirParrot.

I found this 20 dollar application after searching forums to see if I was the only customer irked by Apple’s lack of support for ‘older’ products (I own a 2010 MacBook Pro… please).

AirParrot mimics the AirPlay feature for Macs (and even PCs) that fail to meet the date restrictions Apple set in this year’s update. With the help of AirParrot, I’ve been able to use the AirPlay feature as I had always intended.

Have any of you been held back by some of Apple’s software or hardware updates? Were you able to find a solution?


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“Quality Never Goes Out of Style.”

By Chris Yzerman

Last Friday was a big day around the newsroom.

Forget the opening ceremony of the London Olympics taking over the headlines, Friday was the day the office manager distributed new copies of The Canadian Press Stylebook and CP’s Caps and Spelling.

Hey, it’s a small victory. At a time when many are leaving the industry as newspapers restructure their business models and social media has opened the door to everyone with access to a keyboard or touchscreen to compete for media and PR space, it’s nice to know there’s still a place where order, accuracy and standards are upheld.

The printed newspaper may be dying a slow death, but, to borrow from the tag line of a company that’s had to adapt to changing times, quality never goes out of style.

And that’s the reason why CP’s guides remain relevant, and why they’re still an important tool for any journalist or PR practitioner.

If the power of the written word is now frequently boiled down to 140 characters or less, it’s pretty vital to ensure those 140 characters are accurate and informed. If you’re trying to spread or control the message, all it takes is one poorly-written press release, blog post or e-mail to turn success into an epic fail.

News releases and tweets come across the newsroom constantly and, often, credibility is judged within the first few words read by the receiver. CP’s books don’t make the subject any more or less newsworthy, but following the tips and styles within them are much more likely to get the message across with accuracy and precision — two things that were once hallmarks of the media but have suffered as a result of the digital age.

Granted, sitting down and thumbing through a copy of CP’s Stylebook may not seem like the most enjoyable reading. After all, copy editors at newspapers tend to be a different breed (and rapidly diminishing in job numbers, too) and they’re the types who are likely to gain some kind of satisfaction from pointing out a writer’s use of the word “practice” when the writer really meant to say “practise,” for example. But that doesn’t mean you’ve got to be a control freak to realize that a little self-editing can be the difference between professional and amateur when it comes to public perception. All it takes is a few minutes here and there spent familiarizing yourself with strong writing style and that’s a time investment that’s worth making.


Chris Yzerman is a desk editor at the Ottawa Citizen daily newspaper in Canada’s capital and got his start in journalism working for The Canadian Press. A graduate of Carleton University and Algonquin College, he’s worked as a reporter/writer and editor for various newspapers and magazines in addition to dabbling in broadcasting.

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Political PR: Defining Your Career

By Tyler Orchard 

Tyler Orchard

Political communications is a very unique industry – one that many don’t set out to pursue. My experiences allow me to attest to its remarkable ability to shape professional skills and provide any individual a deep foundation in which to build a career on.

After graduating from the University of Guelph and McMaster University where I completed my Masters of Public Policy and Administration, political communications was a clear and calculated next step.  Throughout my academic career I spent time building a relationship with a local MP candidate. We worked closely together in a very informal setting – creating a strategy, building a campaign and waiting for an election to be called. Luck played a big part in my career trajectory. An election was called and I assumed the role of Director of Communications throughout the federal campaign. I call this luck because if an election weren’t called at that specific time, my political career may never have existed.

In hindsight, the campaign was an incubator for my professional development. We were a small team and I assumed responsibility for all communication strategy – leading me to be “tossed in the deep end” to learn as I went. This environment forced me to learn skills I didn’t possess before, very quickly. I was also fortunate because this particular candidate was running for a seat in one of the most hotly-contested and controversial ridings in Canada (it was in the top three targeted ridings in the country). This lead to experiences that may not have been afforded to me if I were in another part of the country. The national media attention, coupled with the rise of attack-style politics and controversy, created an environment that was remarkably fast-paced, high-stakes and strategic.

In four weeks I was able to experience things that many may not be privy to in their entire political careers, including national crisis communications, national media relations, attack-style political tactics, national PR campaigns, and strategic communications. It is something I attribute much of my professional growth to.

We won the campaign by a large margin and I joined the newly minted MP as his Director of Communications – a position I held for nearly two years. Over that time I continued to learn, grow and expand my knowledge of communications, social media and PR. Although I appreciate and value my experiences within the political world, my true ambition and interest lied within the private sector. Politics shaped my entire professional career path. It allowed me to quickly become experienced and mature. However, my true passion for business led me to make the decision to leave politics.

Political communications and politics as a whole is a great career choice – over the short and long-term. I would recommend to anyone who wanted to pursue a career in communications or PR to explore the opportunities that politics can offer. Although you may see yourself in an agency or a company’s in-house department, politics can provide the necessary foundation to be successful in that environment.

Here are three tips for those who may want to pursue a career in politics:

  • Network: Politicians don’t normally use job boards to search for candidates. Reach out to your local politician or nominated candidate, ask if you can volunteer and build a relationship with them. It comes down to who you know so start building a network that you can leverage. Also, build relationships with present and past political staffers who can help you along the way (Linkedin is a great start).
  • Become Invaluable: There are hundreds, if not thousands of people who are seeking jobs, and political positions are few and far between. If you are volunteering or get to help out on a political campaign, make yourself invaluable so they have to keep you onboard.
  • Get Involved: Whether it is with municipal, provincial or federal political campaigns, school elections or anything else, get involved and build your experience now.

Tyler is the Manager of Strategy and Social Media at Zync. in Toronto, an award winning strategic marketing communications and branding firm. He also is the founder of Back Rank, a startup that transforms brands into seamless social entities through “humanization” techniques. After finishing his Masters degree from the University of Guelph, he spent time in political PR. Tyler believes that our growth as professionals is dependent on our ability to challenge assumptions and create ongoing debate. Connect with him on TwitterLinkedInFacebook, his Blog or the Zync blog.

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