Highway of Heroes by Bob Reid

November 8, 2009

Anyone who lives in or around the Greater Toronto Area, even in Canada, will likely have heard about or experienced the Highway of Heroes phenomenon which occurs whenever a fallen soldier is returned from the field of battle for a medical autopsy in Toronto. Whenever this happens, there is a spontaneous lining of the 401 by Canadians who show their support for the soldier and the troops in general.

My esteemed colleague, Bob Reid (he of Touchdowns and Fumbles fame) was so moved by this that he wrote and a song about this outpouring of support. After its debut on the Bill Carroll show, Bob spent the last year recording the song and this last Tuesday it was finally released!

The song is embedded below and if you like it, please mozy on over to HMV, iTunes or CD Baby where you can buy the song – proceeds from which will go to the military charity, Wounded Warriors. If you love the song, there are a whole bunch more people who do as well and you can connect with them on the official Facebook fan page.

Congratulations to Bob for this momentous release – I hope it is the success it deserves to be!

Link/Comment Baiting

April 29, 2008

Something I don’t do a good job of on this blog is letting the reader into the inner workings of the iStudio office. Partly because I’m a pretty shocking blogger right now and partly because I think that’s more for the iStudio blog. Which I’m equally delinquent on.

So perhaps that should stop and for my first trick, some blatant link/comment baiting which adds no real value apart from to direct you, the reader to some super smart people and to thank them for providing great, thought provoking content.

I was recently asked to provide a list of my favourite PR/marketing blogs for an internal elearning course. As I’ve got everything in an easy-to-cut-and-paste format, here they are, in no particular order.

Thanks guys!

Note – * donates a conflict such as past/present colleague/client

Public Relations

Shel Holtz – http://blog.holtz.com/

Colin McKay – http://canuckflack.com/

Mike Manuel – http://www.mguerilla.com/media_guerrilla/

Origin of Brands (Laura Ries) – http://ries.typepad.com/ries_blog/

Jeremy Pepper – http://pop-pr.blogspot.com/

PR Squared – http://www.pr-squared.com/

*David Jones – http://www.prworks.ca/

Stephen Davies – http://www.prblogger.com/

Strumpette (although this falls in the “guilty pleasures” bucket) – http://strumpette.com/

Peter Himler – http://theflack.blogspot.com/

Brendan Cooper – http://brendancooper.com/

Paull Young – http://youngie.prblogs.org/

Richard Bailey – http://prstudies.typepad.com/weblog/

Dave Fleet – http://davefleet.com/

Leo Bottary (more client service but he’s a PR guy) – http://clientserviceinsights.blogspot.com/

*iStudio – http://blog.istudio.ca/

*High Road Communications – http://www.highroad.com/blog

*Martin Hofmann – http://www.martinhofmann.net/

*David Bradfield – http://navigatecommunications.com/

*Kristen Zemlak – http://zemlak.wordpress.com/

Chris Clarke would also be in there but a) he barely posts any more and b) his site is nearly always down 😉

I also subscribe to the PR Voices feed for the “hottest” topics in the flak-o-sphere: http://prvoices.com/


Andy Sernovitz – http://www.damniwish.com/

Sean Moffitt – http://buzzcanuck.typepad.com/agentwildfire/

Jackie Huba/Ben McDonell, Church of the Customer – http://www.churchofthecustomer.com/blog/

Sean Howard – http://www.craphammer.ca/

Forrester Marketing – http://blogs.forrester.com/marketing/

Joseph Jaffe – http://www.jaffejuice.com/

David Armano – http://darmano.typepad.com/logic_emotion/

John Dodds – http://makemarketinghistory.blogspot.com/

Kate Trgovac – http://www.mynameiskate.ca/

One Degree – http://www.onedegree.ca/

Seth Godin – http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/

Mitch Joel – http://www.twistimage.com/blog/

Douglas Walker – http://www.webwalker.ca/

*Matt Dickman – http://technomarketer.typepad.com

Eight things you don’t know about Ed Lee

January 3, 2008

Another one of the dreaded self-centered”tag-and-meme” things is going around the flak-o-sphere and Dave Fleet (who’s blog you definitely should be reading) has tagged me.

Here are eight things you don’t know about me, but what I’m more interested in is finding out eight things about you – the BMBY reader. Please dive in and introduce yourselves in the comments!

1. I was privileged to go to an excellent private school in the UK that gave me a superb, well-rounded education, as well as most of my best friends.

2. I regret not choosing my A-levels by what I would do well at, rather than what I was interested in. As a result I chose Maths, Economics and Politics rather than Politics, Biology and History.

3. When I play team sports (which I love), I get very competitive and SHOUT VERY LOUDLY (which my wife hates). I doubt I’m as competitive as this fellow though…

4. I once “crashed a fag” from Uma Thurman when she was filming The Avengers.

5. There is nothing I like better than lying on my sofa, zoning out and watching sports.

6. Following in my dad’s footsteps, I’m a pretty handy cook. Roast chicken with sweet potatoes, celeriac and fresh thyme is a personal favourite.

7. This list has taken me ages – I get easily distra….

8. My maternal grandfather is my hero. However, I never met my other grandfather but my dad has told me he used to shoot crocodiles in his native Malaysia. With a revolver?!

iStudio "Corporate" Holiday Card – 2007 Edition

December 5, 2007

“Physician heal thyself” is a common refrain when it comes to talking about how marketing agencies market themselves.

As a rule, PR agencies do not do enough work to get themselves ink (although this story featuring my boss’ boss and FH Canada supremo Linda Smith says otherwise for Fleishman-Hillard); you rarely see ads for advertising agencies and direct marketing agencies rarely send you unwanted mail to get you to sign up with them.

…and it’s often the same at iStudio. We’re so busy doing great work for our clients that we don’t have time to turn our analysis and insight on ourselves.

iStudio Holiday 2007

Until, that is, the holidays come around. iStudio has a rich and award-winning history in the holiday card and this year is no different.

This year, after hours of brainstorming, voting by proxy and hanging chads, we went for a regifting theme – the Do Not Want Ads. That’s right – we’ve put up our old unwanted gifts for you to claim as your very own.

In the iStudio tradition, we’ve done it with our usual irreverent style and you can see right from our Flash intro that this ain’t your usual holiday card.

Once you’re into the main site, we have a classified ads theme so you can navigate around the “newspaper” with your mouse and select the products you’re interested in. Each product page has a write up from its “owner” along with some images and the ubiquitous “share on a social network/news/bookmarking site” buttons. The cool thing is that you can submit your reason for wanting each gift and the iStudio-er who submitted the gift will choose who wins that gift and has it shipped to them. Free of charge!

If you don’t want to claim the gifts for your own, you can always inflict the gift on others – virtually that is, through our Facebook app. Torment your friends and family with the miniature Genghis Khan doll or Teen Diva set by sending it to them over the magic of the Facebook.

Being iStudio, we also put in a few Easter-eggs – links to things we’ve liked over the last year and links to past holiday cards. I can guarantee you, you won’t be bored if you check it out.

Travelling Sisterhood of the Divine Ya-ya Pants. Or whatever this movie is called.

I can highly recommend bidding on the “Weopanized Testerone-killer“!


Integrated Internet Communications at Work

The 2007 iteration of our corporate holiday card goes a long way to showing off what we’re all about. From a consulting viewpoint, we’ve created a multi-channel integrated online communications campaign. We had an email campaign (fully compliant with CAN-SPAM regulation) that drew traffic to our campaign micro-site. We had online outreach where we included leading Canadian marketing bloggers on our list. We even have a Facebook app to support the main application and, we have had a blog and twitter push of the campaign.

Creatively, our design team really got to show off their chops with some really fantastic Flash work, wonderful animation and a user interface to die for. When you’re designing for big companies, branding guidelines can get in the way of what you really want to do with a design, so this let’s the gang really express themselves.

Similarly, the tech team did a great job putting it all together, and doing all the boring database work behind the scenes that makes the site do what we wanted it to do. And of course, we all tested the site and provided quality assurance (QA) to make sure it was all spick and span when we launched it yesterday.

So happy holidays, from all of the iStudio crew. We hope you enjoy this as much as we enjoyed putting it together for you!


Adrants was kind enough to cover it.

One Degree was also kind enough to cover it (scroll all the way to the bottom).

More iStudio Holiday Card 2007 coverage here.

Of course, if you want iStudio to create a holiday card for your organization, please just get in touch! elee@istudio.ca

iStudio Do Not Want 2008

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The business of business cards

August 21, 2007

Seth Godin get’s all American Psycho on us for poor business card design. He says:

“The point [of business cards] should be to demonstrate that you have good taste”

Very true, as I’m sure Patrick Bateman (VP at Pierce and Pierce) would agree.

Business cards truly are one of the most effective forms of personal/organisational branding and marketing I can think of –

  • They are permission (sometimes request) based.
  • Everyone reads them.
  • No-one throws them away.
  • You can be creative with them.
  • A large amount of information can be communicated with them. Email. Web site. Blog. Telephone. Key messages. Images.
  • They contain many different calls to action – see above.

Personally, I only have one ask when it comes to business cards – they should have enough space on the back for me to write down where I met the person and a couple of tid-bits of information about them.

Of my favourite three business cards currently in my collection two are creative – Sean Moffitt’s Agent Wildfire cards (with actual wildfire coming off the edges) and Colin Douma‘s moo cards – while the third belongs to Dyson‘s Head of International Public Relations and is more a small product brochure than a business card.

In fact, it’s a perfect example of micro-marketing from a truly remarkable organisation. (I am a proud owner/operator of a remarkable Dyson DC18)

However, I should say that I’m hardly an authority on business cards. The back of the iStudio business cards look like we work at The Gap

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House Rules!

February 23, 2007

If you’re in London on Friday March 2, I can strongly recommend you hustle over to the Artesian Well in Clapham for London’s hottest underground dance party – House Rules.

Friends from my university days are hard at work ensuring anyone who goes will have the time of their life with the tracks to go with it.

Gareth Wyn (a resident at super-club Cream), Haran De Lucas, Whaid “Tiesto” Hussain and David’s P, Duffield and Griffiths will be spinning a mix of fresh, funky and downright dirty house music for your entertainment.

I’ve been to a few of these nights, back when they were in Bristol and called “Total Wreckage”. The wreckage was indeed total and they’ve always been a great night out.

If you want to get a feeling for how the night’s going to look, feel and sound, check out the boys’ Web site where you can also download some fantastic hour-long mixes. Whaid’s April 2006 is going to be on my most played list for a while!

If you’re in London, make me jealous and get thee to House Rules.

**UPDATE** Listening to Gareth Wyn’s mix and am getting really annoyed that I couldn’t be at what must’ve been a great night.

Wiki Wild Wild West

February 21, 2007

My colleague, Neil Johnson and I attended the Third Tuesday event with Anthony Williams along with sister agency colleagues Dave and Julia. Anthony authored a book called Wikinomics which I’m going to go and buy this lunch time.

Joe Thornley was also there with his camera. Don’t we look good after a hard days internet communicating?!

See more pictures here.

Anthony’s talk on the use of wikis raised two great questions:

1. How can you get to the critical mass of users needed to reap the benefits wikis can provide? [Sacha Chua]

2. How open are wikis? Another post to follow on this. They’re exclusive to those with Internet access, who have had the time and energy to learn whatever coding language the wiki uses, and to those who actually notice they can edit a page. Jason has some thoughts here and here. [Omar Ha Redeye]

Where’s the value?

January 15, 2007

The pre-amble

I like reading Strumpette. I like reading Chris Clarke. And never the twain shall meet. Until now when they’ve met quite forcefully and drawn in Joe Thornley (who I also like reading).

Essentially the argument goes something like this (or at least I’ve interpreted it as such). Chris doesn’t have the experience to say anything worthwhile about the PR industry and JT should know better than to allow him to speak on the behalf (whether de facto or de jure) of the Thornley Fallis Group.

The bigger picture

I wish I had something intelligent and conciliatory to say for both sides but I don’t. My take on this particular liaison dangereux is that it raises a bigger question of where the value of young or up-and-coming PRs blogging is?

There are quite a few of us so this is somewhat of an existential question. Alex, Richard, Owen, Paull, Luke…I could go on but these guys are the one’s I make sure I read.

The rationale

The way the PR agency model is set up means there is a vast amount of knowledge and experience at the top, at AD level or above, but at the bottom, new recruits are treated like menial workers. For example, one Oxbridge grad I know spent his first year as part of the workforce advising clients on the management structure and IT needs of the company. Another earned 50k (gbp – about $100k U.S.) a year working in a hedge fund. Another spent his first year getting paper cuts from mounting coverage.

As a result, many junior staffers find their creativity and intellect stymied by the agency structure. Therefore they look for other ways to express themselves. Lo and behold, they found democratised publishing and social media (or it found them). So they started blogging.

Some decided to talk about technology, some pop culture, some about sport, while some decided to talk about public relations. The question is whether or not they have anything worthwile to say.

So where’s the value?

Public relations is not a hard business to be in. Write a news release, manage an event, spam some journalists. Sometimes we provide serious counsel but more often than not it’s very tactical stuff, which is reflected in PRs seat at the budget table.

Common sense

The most important asset for any PR is common sense – and it shows in the work we do. The beauty is, anyone bringing common sense to the table. Spam journalists this way, write a news release this way, organise your day this way. If you impart this sort of thinking with some amount of intellect behind your rationalisation, you’ll be adding value to your peers and to the industry.

Fresh eyes and attitude

Another thing that young PRs can bring to the table is a fresh view. Just because the industry has been doing certain things certain ways, doesn’t mean it should be so. A fresh pair of eyes can revitalise a news release, an industry or a company – just why my Oxbridge pal got paid so well to be a management consultant!

Us youngsters are also filled with a certain joie de vivre that makes us think we can change the world. This energy and attitude is in stark contrast to people burdened with years of experience and the cynicism that they bring, whove often stopped trying. Enthusiasm is a great motivation for everyone.


The other way we can bring value is in the ethics column. As Team Strumpette said, Chris has been naive in some ways but it’s this naivety that can be harnessed. If fresh faced, bright eyed grads are naive in expecting good ethics in the industry, surely that benefits everyone? Just look at the work Paull Young has done around astro-turfing, even if it has stalled somewhat in the face of the bigger companies.


Just because we’re junior, doesn’t mean we don’t have the same, or greater, level of intelligence of our superiors. The only difference is by a fluke of timing, they have more experience. Experience that the Strumpette committee seems to be using as a crutch; both in their arguments and to hit young PR bloggers over the head with. In some cases older pros’ experience and cynicism can tessellate beautifully with our energy, intelligence and naivety to ensure great work is being done.

Questioning authority

We’re young, we’re mavericks, we have no respect for authority or experience. If we have an idea that’s better than yours, we want it executed and if not, we want to know why. If you tell us to do something this way, we’ll ask why we shouldn’t do it a different way. That’s just the way it is, the way it has been and the way it always will be. The precociousness of youth will always question the authority of the old (er). If you’re right, great. If we’re right, even better but don’t us to accept your take just for the sake of a few extra years.


Strumpette Inc actually has a lot more in common with the inexperienced PRs that they are criticising. Both entities should be dissenting voices in the community, both should be keeping the industry honest.

At best, we should be expecting the juniors to be asking “why” a lot more than we currently do. Just because someone like David Jones, Michael O’Connor Clarke, Joseph Jaffe or Shel Holtz serves up a gem of wisdom, doesn’t mean we should accept it. Prod it, probe it and question it – just like we’ve been doing on Second Life. Senior pros have been like zealots for the platform, not the concept and a small amount of people have stood up and disagreed.

Because that what Strumpette.com does, it forces us to question the status quo, something we should have been doing for a while.

It’s not about the conversation any more, it’s about the discussion.

Thoughts on a meme

December 16, 2006

I’ve taken part in a few memes in my time (please don’t judge me), which are basically chain letters, or their more developed cousin, the chain email.  I’ve been trying hard not to do the current "Five Things" meme that’s been going around like wildfire.

Blogosphere meme’s are, essentially, an act of "active" SEO, a way of increasing the amount of incoming links to your blog/website through community involvement, rather than the use of strategically placed words.  Yes that’s simplified but stick with me.

Up till now I’ve been "tagged" by Mitch (check out the comments for my five which I won’t repeat here), Leona, Richard, Doug and Joscelyn, my favourite PR Girl.  Guys, thanks very much for the links and for thinking about me, but I’m going to have to be a grinch and pass on this one.

Memes are very self-serving and I know that if I was reading a slew of blogs all tagging each other with a pretty mindless chain and no-one was thinking about "me", I’d be pissed off.  And I’m all about the inclusivity.

So, to counter that, if you’re reading this and would like to introduce yourself, please either shoot me an email or leave a comment with your "five things no-one knows about you".  If you’ve been "lurking", why not jump on in and introduce yourself.

I’d be especially interested to hear from long time aussie reader, Prue Robson and a couple of other people who I can see read me through their public bloglines account.  People like "manukulb", "dexxirblog" and "Chesterg1".

Doctor Jones has the best post title for this thing which is "Meme-a Mia" which fits in nicely to the Abba theme I’ve been rocking.  Do not ask him for medical advice.

The miscellaneous admin is this –

How do you like the new theme I’m using – "white as milk"?  It’s very clean with a lot of lovely white space and the links are now in the left hand column… which should be easier for you to read.

I’ve also (finally) gotten around to changing my employer logo to the iStudio logo.

I’m on holiday from Monday at 5:30pm.  I’ll be in Calgary with the in-laws-to-be and probably doing something akin to pro-blogging for the next week.

Happy Chanukah to you all!

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Toronto Marketing Events

November 26, 2006

I never really intended this to be a diary type blog but if you are in Toronto there a couple of cool events happening this week. First off my old boss (as in former, not as in geriatric) Dave Jones is chairing some talks at the Canadian Institute on…social media.

I’ve seen Dave’s presentation and if you’re available and can get past the security, I’d certainly recommend you going along. Also presenting are iStudio’s Brandy Fleming and iStudio alum, David Bradfield who’d be worth checking out as well! I’m looking forward to meeting David sometime tomorrow (Monday) as I’ve been a long time fan of his blog.

Check out Mitch’s post for a full run down of who’s speaking and who’ll be at the geek-ish dinner afterwards.

If you can’t make it to the CI, but are interested in search marketing (and let’s face it, who isn’t these days) Helen Overland pitched me to talk about a seminar for you to attend on November 29. non~linear creations is hosting “Improve Your Bottom Line with Search Marketing” and it sounds pretty interesting. Go here to register and tell them I sent you for a 100 per cent discount.

*UPDATE* – and now the outrageously brilliant GM of AIMS, Kathryn Lagden, has gotten in touch to let me know about their Thursday event, “Web Analytics: Make the connection between your marketing spend and the bottom line”. It’s only $50 and you get to chat with some of the brightest people in Toronto’s digital marketing scene.  Unfortunately, no discount for BMBY readers…

All in all, there’s very little reason for you to be in the office at all this week!

And in completely non-PR marketing news, Steven Gerrard scored a cracker against Manchester City on Sunday.  It was his first in the league this season and hopefully heralds a return to form for the big man.

If you’re reading this in your feedreader, check it out here.

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