Communication is the heart of all human endeavour.

Posts Tagged ‘Canada’

Weasel words and the failure of leadership: we get what we accept

In Uncategorized on March 20, 2012 at 4:25 pm

By Geoffrey Rowan
TORONTO, March 20, 2012 — Short-sheeting your brother’s bed is a dirty trick.(“Ohh, you brat!”)  Impersonating a government official to rig an election is a felony.
But the sad truth is most of us don’t care. We don’t expect any better from our leaders. We don’t believe what they say, and who can blame us. In the political arena, at least, we have been conditioned to ignore all the faux wounded hyperbole and ersatz indignation of our leaders. Every day someone in government does something so egregious it can only be fixed by his or her resignation, or the prime minister’s resignation or someone’s ceremonial disembowelment. Who’s to know when something serious actually happens?
Many if not most business leaders are just as disingenuous, obtuse, evasive and self-serving. Leadership in the worlds of religion, not-for-profits and at the local community level is no more inspiring. If perception is reality then we are one sorry family of man because around the world we perceive our leaders as a dismal lot.
You know this because you are aware of the U.S. race for the Republican presidential nomination, or our own robo-call scandal, a dysfunctional city council and mayor’s office or countless other examples that range from bumbling buffoonery to malicious malfeasance. I know it because my colleagues in research at Ketchum surveyed people in 13 countries to find out what they think about leaders. The results were dismal. (Here’s the link to the results media release –

There is a huge gap — a 28 percentage point difference — between what we expect from our leaders and what we think they deliver.

Business leaders were the best of a weak lot globally, with a little more than a third of respondents giving them an excellent rating of eight or above on a scale of 0-10. (In Canada, not-for-profit leaders were best.) Even more surprising, among businesses, leaders in banking and financial services rated near the top of the pack. (Leaders of tech companies were rated highest by 44 per cent of respondents for effective leadership, compared to consumer packaged goods firms at the opposite end of the spectrum, cited by just 20 per cent for effective leadership.) 
As jaded as we are in our view of leaders, we’re still hopeful. We want good leaders and believe that we need them to guide us through these difficult times. And we don’t seek the impossible in leadership. Around the world, across many countries and languages, people were pretty consistent about their expectations in response to this survey.

1. Close the Say-Do Gap — People aren’t as stupid as our leaders seem to think. If you say you love people and then you bomb them, or take away their jobs, or their health care, or abuse their trust, they will grow cynical. We want more from our leaders than catchy slogans and lyrical sound bites. We want people who lead by example, who have the courage and commitment to act, and who keep a level head in a crisis.
2. Strong, Silent Types Need Not Apply — As important as it is to act decisively and with integrity, leaders also must keep people informed. In the absence of clear communication – whenever there is ambiguity – we will assume the worst. So, no to slogans and sound bites but yes to clear, consistent communication, with a little humility. Be willing to admit mistakes. Be aware that different situations require different leadership styles, and different leadership styles require different communication styles, but they all require good communication.
3. Don’t sugar-coat it — The survey was decisive on this. Speak the truth with purpose and without ambiguity. We can handle a challenge if we understand it and if we know what our leaders are doing to address it.  
4. The way to be seen to be trustworthy is to be trustworthy — (See No. 1, Close the Say-Do Gap.) For organizations to be seen to be leaders, nothing rated higher in the survey than trustworthiness, including quality of products, services or management, financial strength, or innovation.
5. Let Them Look You In The Eyes — Face-to-face communication is by far the communication channel that creates the greatest sense of leadership credibility. The lack of credibility given to some digital communication channels was surprising given their fast proliferation, but we believe Twitter feeds and social media were useless for leadership is because most of the content doesn’t meet the other criteria for effective leadership. It’s usually bland marketing speak and sloganeering, and it’s rarely actually written by the leader. Does anyone believe Stephen Harper writes his own Tweets?

The bad news is that we have grown so cynical that we expect our leaders are going to be even worse in 2012 than they were in 2011. There is such a powerful hunger in so many to be anointed “a leader” and then to hang onto that perceived power that they have forgotten the fundamental tenet of leadership – that they work for the people they are leading.

And so cynicism grows, and alientation, and disengagement, until we end up with leaders no one listens to, or until a new kind of leader emerges — one who leads instead of manages. That’s where leadership opportunity exists now.



Business, Political, Religious Leadership a Big Disappointment

In Uncategorized on March 20, 2012 at 12:16 pm

Leadership crisis expected to worsen, Ketchum global survey reveals

Canadians rate not-for-profit leaders best of a weak lot of leaders
Globally, business leaders rated first; bankers surprise
  Politicians rated worst on leadership; vast gap between expectation, reality
  Traditional media far outperforms social media for leadership credibility

 TORONTO, March 20, 2012 – Leaders in business, politics, religion, local communities and the not-for-profit sector fall far short of expectations around the world, according to a 12-country survey by global communications firm Ketchum, and we expect it to get worse this year.

The survey found a 28-percentage-point gap between respondents’ expectations of leaders and their view of how well leaders are meeting those expectations.

In Canada*, survey respondents were at least as harsh in their judgment of leaders as elsewhere, but rather than rating business leaders as the best of a weak lot, Canadians gave that recognition to leaders of not-for-profit organizations.

 Canadians gave not-for-profit leaders a mean score of 6, on a sale of 0-10, for effective leadership. Canada’s business leaders followed with a mean score of 5.6 out of 10. Canadians rated political leaders tied for last place, with celebrities, with a 4.2 mean score.

Besides showing the depth of the world’s lack of faith in our leader, the global survey also provides a roadmap for leadership effectiveness. Being perceived as an effective leader requires a combination of decisive action and honest, transparent communication, which is best achieved through a leader’s personal presence and involvement.

“Our study reveals for the first time the full extent of the world’s disappointment with its leaders across every category of human endeavour,” said Geoffrey Rowan, managing director of Ketchum’s Canadian operations and a partner in the global firm. “But the research is also full of practical insights – a clear blueprint for more effective leadership. One point of clarity was how inextricably linked effective leadership is to effective communication.”

A surprise finding outside of Canada, given the lingering global financial crisis, business leaders were seen as the most effective over the past year – beating politicians, not-for-profit bosses and religious leaders. But in Canada, not only did not-for-profit leaders get the highest mean score. They also got the highest number of “excellent” ratings (8 or above on a scale of 0-10) at 23 per cent. Globally, it was the business leaders who got the most excellent ratings, at 36 per cent.

“The key to leadership, particularly in the ‘social profit’ sector, is knowing what to do with it,” said Rahul Bhardwaj, president and CEO of Toronto Community Foundation, one of Canada’s most far-reaching not-for-profits. “When working to build stronger communities, cities, and, by extension, a stronger country, it’s important to remain focused, transparent and committed to open and authentic communication. You must be guided by and communicate strong values – be constructive not destructive. “Above all, don’t confuse managing with leading.”

Within the business community globally, knowledge-based industries were perceived as having the most effective bosses. Ranked highest on leadership effectiveness was technology, with a 44 per cent approval rating, followed by media (39 per cent) and telecommunications (36 per cent). Banking chiefs came in fourth overall in the poll worldwide with 32 per cent. The energy sector and financial services leaders were ranked fifth (31 per cent) and sixth (30 per cent) respectively. Consumer business leaders lagged far behind on leadership, with consumer packaged goods leaders being rated effective by only 20 per cent.

Perhaps most significant for the business community, the research makes a direct link between positive perceptions of leadership and business-critical decisions such as a willingness to buy stock, goods and services or recommend working at a company. This explains crisis response being seen as the most important area for business leaders to communicate personally (53 per cent), followed by financial results (48 per cent) and the state of the business (40 per cent).

Personal Leadership and Powerful CommunicationA Direct Link

Clear, transparent communication topped the table of key leadership behaviours globally. For 84 per cent, effective communication is extremely important to strong leadership, while 48 per cent rated it as the number one factor. In Canada, not-for-profit and business leaders tied for top spot in effective communication, at a fairly dismal mean rating of 5.7 out of 10. Political and religious leaders tied with the lowest mean rating of 4.6 on effective communication.

 Action also matters in rating leadership. Being able to make the tough decisions, leading by example and staying calm in a crisis rated immediately behind effective communication. The study revealed that the number one action leaders should take to restore confidence in 2012 is to be open and honest about the nature and scale of the challenge ahead (57 per cent US; 52 per cent Europe vs. 43 per cent China). By contrast, only 17 per cent indicated a preference for leaders to spare them the full picture to avoid panic.

Trustworthiness was seen as the number one source of leadership credibility for corporations, placed above quality of management and financial strength. In order to win that trust, the report found that the personal “presence” and involvement of a leader in communicating was vital. As a result, communication via face-to-face and traditional media left social media trailing. Face-to-face contact provided the greatest source of leadership credibility (50 per cent), followed by televised speeches (43 per cent), broadcast media (41 per cent) and print media (38 per cent). Digital platforms and social media were well off pace, with blogs at 20 per cent, Facebook at 16 per cent, advertising at 13 per cent and Twitter at just 8 per cent.

“We were a little surprised that mainstream media was still far ahead of digital and social media in conveying leadership credibility,” said Mr. Rowan. “The message we take is that most organizations aren’t using social media as a leadership channel. It’s mostly used to push marketing messages, and even when a leader’s name is involved, most people don’t believe it’s the leader who is actually communicating. This doesn’t mean we should write off social media as a channel for building credible leadership but rather that we have to make the authentic ‘presence’ of the leader shine through.”

Visit for additional survey information and materials. # # # About the Leadership Communication Monitor Ketchum Global Research & Analytics and Ipsos Observer, a worldwide strategic business line within Ipsos, conducted an online survey of 3,759 respondents in 12 markets from Dec. 14, 2011 to Jan. 10, 2012. These were the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, Poland, China, Singapore, India, the United Arab Emirates, South Africa and Brazil. The global margin of error is +/-1.6%. About Ketchum Ketchum is a leading global communications firm with operations in more than 70 countries across six continents. Named 2012 Agency of the Year (PRWeek) and the winner of an unprecedented three consecutive PRWeek Campaign of the Year Awards, Ketchum partners with clients to deliver strategic programming, game-changing creative and measurable results that build brands and reputations. For more information on Ketchum, a unit of Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE:OMC), visit About the Canadian Survey From March 15th, to September 16th, 2012, an online survey was conducted among a sample of 1,003 Canadian adults 18 years plus, who are Angus Reid Forum panel members. The Angus Reid Forum is owned and operated by Vision Critical. Individuals were sampled according to Census data to be representative of the Canadian national adult population. The full dataset has been statistically weighted according to the most current gender, age, region, education (and in Quebec, language) Census data to ensure a sample representative of the entire adult population of Canada. The margin of error is ±3.1%, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding. About Ipsos Ipsos is an independent market research company controlled and managed by research professionals. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has grown into a worldwide research group with a strong presence in all key markets. In October 2011 Ipsos completed the acquisition of Synovate. The combination forms the world’s third largest market research company. With offices in 84 countries, Ipsos delivers insightful expertise across six research specializations: advertising, customer loyalty, marketing, media, public affairs research, and survey management. Ipsos researchers assess market potential and interpret market trends. They develop and build brands. They help clients build long-term relationships with their customers. They test advertising and study audience responses to various media and they measure public opinion around the globe. Ipsos has been listed on the Paris Stock Exchange since 1999 and generated global revenues of €1,363 billion (1.897 billion USD) in 2011. Visit to learn more about Ipsos’ offerings and capabilities.

Contact: Sydney Dare —  416-355-7427 —

* The Canadian survey – the 13th country – was conducted for Ketchum by Vision Critical. It was conducted later than the surveys in other countries and asked fewer questions, which may have affected results

Nickelback makes love to goats, RIM gets pissed, Jack Layton touches our hearts

In Uncategorized on December 7, 2011 at 11:53 am

Ketchum Canada’s Best and Worst Communicators of 2011 show us how it’s done, or not

TORONTO, Dec. 7, 2011 – From the self-mockery (“we make love to goats”) of the Alberta rockers everyone loves to hate, to a moving farewell from a dying politician who so many grew to love, it has been a poignant, perilous and sometimes pathetic year for Canada’s public communicators.

This eighth annual ranking by Ketchum Public Relations Canada recognizes skillful, colourful and effective communication as well as the verbose, impenetrable and downright stupid. Every year, Ketchum PR professionals track hundreds of newsmakers as they deal with potentially damaging issues in business, government, news, sports, and the arts. The results reveal trends in communication and identify valuable lessons.

“When everyone with a cell phone is a potential publisher, there’s really no such thing as private these days,” said Geoffrey Rowan, Partner/Managing Director of Ketchum Public Relations Canada. “But today’s always-on world doesn’t excuse blatherskite from those with a duty to communicate with clarity, integrity and purpose.”

Here are the lessons we learned from Canada’s best and worst communicators in 2011.

 1.        Appeal to our better selves, with feeling

 When NDP leader Jack Layton had every right to be thinking about himself, just two days before his death, he was writing an encouraging farewell letter to Canadians. His final words touched our hearts because they showed that he knew the end was imminent for him but his thoughts were with those who would carry on. His was a simple, genuine message – part instruction manual, part poetry – delivered with grace and eloquence.

“My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.”

  1. 2.       Don’t be arrogant unless you’re the only game in town, forever

A lot of lessons from former tech darling RIM this year. First is that you shouldn’t bank on your status as “tech darling.” The media and the world love to bring down darlings.

Co-CEO Mike Lazaridis found himself in hot water after the BBC posted a short video of him abruptly ending an interview because he didn’t like the questions — about government interference in India and the Middle East with RIM’s BlackBerry network security. “Not fair,” he complained. But when you take the public’s money by issuing stock, you don’t get to pick the questions reporters ask you.

Then the co-CEOs seemed to sleep through a reputation-crushing service outage. The good news was that a lot of people rely on Blackberries to conduct their daily business. The bad news is that the bigger the gap between what you promise and what you deliver, the madder your customers get. But that only becomes a problem for RIM if there’s ever some other smart phone alternative, and what’s the likelihood of that iHappening? It’s enough to drive employees to drink too much on airplanes.

3.       Good gravy, Mr. Mayor.

Last year we acknowledged Toronto Mayor Rob Ford for using a simple, clear, credible message to connect with the Toronto electorate. “No more gravy train.”  A year later, Mayor Ford’s battle with the gravy train has left him a hot mess.

There’s too much bad communication by Mayor Ford and his brother Doug to single out one issue. By all reports, when he’s not directing rude digital (middle-digit) communication at fellow motorists, he’s directing vulgar verbal torrents at fellow city employees after being confronted by fictional TV characters, or petulantly picking a fight with the Toronto Star. Governments should not play favourites when it comes to sharing information. Publicly-funded. Public information.  For a big, tough politician sometimes he seems pretty delicate.

Also, see above: minimize the difference between what you say you’re going to do (no service cuts, no layoffs) and what you actually do to preserve credibility.

4.       Occupy huh?

The Occupy Wall Street movement successfully communicated the ideas that the world isn’t fair and that some people are unhappy about that. Unless it transforms itself into something other than a forum for whinging, it is doomed to irrelevancy. After visiting the camps, reading the signs, watching countless hours of live, streaming video, poring over main stream media coverage and blogosphere journaling, we have been able to distill the essence of the OWS discussion:

“You suck! No you suck! Well, you’re stupid. Am not. You’re stupid! Drum break!”

Communication failures include: lack of focus, lack of anything new to say, lack of credibility, excess of irony (being photographed, Starbucks cup in hand, screaming at police about the evils of  globalization),  lack of direction, and in many cases lack of connection to the real world.

5.       We’re sorry you suck

Small wonder the OWS movement vilifies the business community when they see stories like this. A group of Montreal business school students painted themselves in black face and acted out insulting stereotypes of Jamaicans. A student of Jamaican descent found the performances degrading and offensive, given the history of insulting and degrading black-face performances by whites, and the fact that it was in fact insulting and degrading.

The response from this institution of higher learning?

“We spoke to the students and they found the reaction regrettable and are sorry.”

Really? They found the reaction to their incredibly offensive behaviour regrettable? They regret that people were offended by their offensiveness?

6.       In the thick of it, communicate well and often

Mining is a dirty business on a large scale that often takes place in remote, undeveloped areas and often involves enormously complex human, environmental, economic and political issues. Unless we decide we don’t want the products that mining enables, we have to accept its necessity and do our best to ensure miners behave responsibly.

Barrick Gold made front-page news when the world’s largest gold miner was involved in a scandal where allegations of sexual assault at its mines in Tanzania and Papua New Guinea came to light.

“The allegations were highly disturbing and will be fully investigated and publicly reported,” the company vowed. It pledged to fire any employee involved in human-rights violations, or who knows of human-rights abuses and fails to report them.

“These deplorable crimes, if confirmed, are neither acceptable nor excusable. They send a clear message to us that we have not met the promises we have made to the community, and to ourselves, to pursue responsible mining in every location where our affiliates and we operate. We can, and will, do more.”

Barrick is involved in some of the world’s most difficult mining environments, facing problems that defy simple answers. But it is consistently open about these difficulties, takes responsibility for finding solutions, and keeps the channels of communication open. That doesn’t mean it is beyond reproach, but it’s the best way to protect your reputation in an industry as big and dangerous as mining.

7.       Don’t wing it, or even chopper it

Even the most experienced communicator can’t afford to helicopter … errr phone it in. Defence Minister Peter MacKay, suffering lately from a bit of changing-story-itis over his use of a Canadian Forces helicopter to pick him up from a fishing trip, had another embarrassing gaffe this year. In an on-camera meeting with former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mr. MacKay observed that British Columbia and California share a border. If Arnold, or Sarah Palin, or some other American politician had displayed such geographic ignorance, Canada might have recalled its ambassador. Mr. Mackay got off easy, and has probably learned not to fish out any old statement without researching it.

8.       Don’t take yourself too seriously

It’s one of life’s enduring mysteries. How have Alberta’s three-chord rockers Nickelback managed to sell more than 50 million albums and regularly fill arenas around the world when no one on the planet will admit to liking their music. (We don’t, really.)

One of their biggest anti-fans, on learning the band would play the halftime show during the Detroit Lions’ Thanksgiving game, launched a no-Nickelback online petition. Some 54,000 people signed it, hoping to get the appearance cancelled.

Rather than cursing out a 911 operator, or taking over a park and beating a drum until all meanness is removed from the Internet, front man Chad Kroeger and the band sat down on camera with their (faux) record label boss to address some of the roots of the “crisis.”

“We make love to goats,” corrected Kroeger, when asked about a particular nasty rumour making the rounds on the Internet. After brainstorming a bunch of ideas to appease fans in Detroit— such as playing Motown music as The Four Nickels — the band dressed up as different people and characters from Detroit, including RoboCop and Alice Cooper.

We liked it, we really liked it. (Now about that music …)

9.       Know what century you’re in. Hell, know what planet you are on.

We have three winners in the out-of-touch-old-guy category this year. Unfortunately one is the bright, young hope of the Liberal Party, Justin Trudeau. Trudeau said he was “uncomfortable” calling honour killings “barbaric.”

Eventually he apologized for his remarks, “if they’ve been interpreted by any one as dismissing or diminishing the serious and appalling nature of honour killings and other gender-based violence.”

  •  So, it’s our fault that when you dismissed the heinous nature of honour killings that we “interpreted it” as … dismissing the heinous nature of honour killings? Oops. We’re sorry, Justin.
  •  Cut to the Toronto cop who advised staff and students at Osgoode Hall law school “not to dress like sluts” if they want to avoid sexual assault.

The officer eventually “apologized,” saying he was “embarrassed” by the remark and that assaulted women are “not victims by choice.”

Our bad. Sorry for the discomfort you experience by being embarrassed. The good news is that Slut Walks have been held around the world to remind people not to blame the victim.

In contrast, Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair stepped up right away, taking responsibility. “If that type of, frankly, archaic thinking still exists among any of my officers, it highlights for me the need to continue to train my officers and sensitize them to the reality of victimization.”

  •  Then there’s hockey icon Don Cherry, who lambasted some former enforcers as “pukes,” “hypocrites,” and “turncoats” when they spoke out against fighting.

Being an icon affords one some leeway. But Don cut it pretty close with this one. Ultimately, he pulled it out in sudden death overtime with an apology just like the man. It pulled no punches.

“I’ve got to admit I was wrong on a lot of things,” Cherry said. “I put down three enforcers, tough guys, my type of guys, I threw them under the bus. I’m sorry about it, I really am.”

10.   Learn from Nickelback and react appropriately

  Yes, take any complaints of wrong-doing seriously.  Assess the threat. Is it core to what you are, like an accounting firm getting caught cooking the books? Is it credible? Does it have legs?

Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos caused himself more trouble than he needed by calling a press conference to deny rumours that the Jays were stealing signs (cheating.) The Jays were a mediocre (but exciting) team. The story would have died quickly but Anthopolous gave it legs by holding an emotional news conference. Something that few people heard about was spread to many people. A year from now al they’ll remember is something about the Blue Jays cheating.

The Best and Worst of 2012

If you would like to get in on the fun for Canada’s Best and Worst Communicators of 2012, send your nominations to our Twitter handle @KetchumCanadaPR, or to Each nomination must contain the quote, its speaker, the date it was spoken and a verifiable reference to the media outlet where it was reported.

About Ketchum Public Relations Canada

An innovator in communication since 1923, Ketchum delivers seamless service around the globe through its 21 offices and 35 affiliates and associates in Europe, North America, Asia Pacific and Latin America.  Ketchum is a unit of Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE:OMC;  Additional information on Ketchum, its award-winning work can be found at

Lions, Saints, Builders and Masters on Prowl at Ketchum Public Relations Canada

In Uncategorized on August 12, 2011 at 4:32 pm

Jim Black wins 2011 Summer Ketchum Vision Award

Preeminent Canadian

PR Pros Honour Each Other

TORONTO, AUG. 12, 2011 – There are lions, masters, builders and saints in the offices of Ketchum Public Relations Canada, and Canada’s preeminent PR professionals put them there.

Twice a year, Ketchum Canada employees give special recognition to their colleagues for doing the things that help us achieve our vision of the organization we want to be. From all-staff nominations, the senior management team picks four individuals – one each for the Lion, Saint, Builder and Master Awards. Last night, Jim Black, Dina Stolyarova, Erin Manning, and Kristin Mills were selected as the most recent winners, respectively.

But it wasn’t an easy selection process. Here is a summary of the nominations, which we hope tells you a great deal about what kind of professionals are working at Ketchum, and what kind of culture we have.

The Saint:

This award acknowledges those who do things for each other, not because it’s their job but because that’s who they are. Also known as the Random Act of Kindness Award, it honours someone who has gone out of their way to help a colleague on something – maybe not even related to Ketchum.

Finance Admin Assistant Dina Stolyarova is this season’s saint. Some of your feedback:

Whether it’s help with something work related, or advice on a good trip to take, Dina goes all out.

  • She always takes the time to sit with you, talk you through something and take it over if you need a hand … she has talked me through the payment system way too many times for her liking, but still, she does it patiently and always offers to help.
  • She is always kind and considerate and never gets frustrated when we make mistakes with anything accounting-related … always has a smile on her face.
  • Plus, anyone who cleans out the fridge for us should be highly awarded (have you seen the things that are growing in there?!?).

But there were other great nominees, such as:

Lisa Perruzza – Lisa is always willing to help no matter how busy her schedule is. She always makes an effort to help you out with a question you have and will make sure that your question is answered, even if she has to go through a million people to find the answer.

(She helped me with something not Ketchum related.) Her kindness makes working here better because you look forward to spending time with people who will go out of their way to help you.

Charmaine Khan –  She always goes out of her way to help me with my account work.  Whether it is just letting me bounce ideas off of her or offering to read over something, she embodies the spirit of teamwork.

 Sydney Dare –  has the most positive intentions for her teammates … She’s truly a silent saint and a generous co-worker.

Linsey Flannery – is always willing to help, even when it’s out of her comfort zone, she’s willing to chip in and help.  It doesn’t matter what it is, do you need PR help, Admin help, or someone to run errands she’s there!  A genuinely nice person, who only sees the good in people, and she’s not in it for personal gain, a true saint!

Erin Manning  does things ‘that you do for each other that you don’t have to, but you do them because that’s the kind of person you are.’ Erin is a very caring, thoughtful and helpful person.

Charlene Magnaye:  Once folks found out about Charlene’s amazing graphic design abilities, it wasn’t long before everyone was blown away by her eagerness to help out and the great quality of her design work. I’m thrilled to have this talent in the office and grateful that Charlene is so willing to help out and contribute above and beyond her day to day responsibilities.

Kathy Khamis is always the first person to arrive in pod 2 every morning and welcomes people every morning with a huge smile on her face.  Kathy is the type of person who is always thinking of others.  I often get emails from her at night or during the weekend with articles or deals that she thinks might be of interest to me or my family members.

Barb Langille genuinely cares about staff and will go out of her way to get them things to make their lives easier …   She coaches people on the best benefits of the admin functions and she does a lot behind the scenes to make sure everyone in the office is healthy and happy.  She is great.

The Master Award goes to theperson demonstrates excellence in the professional skills required of them, whether that’s extraordinary account management, media relations, business management, office operations support, new business development, content expertise, digital, crisis, research, relationship building, or otherwise demonstrates passion for and mastery of a skill important to our profession or our success as an organization.

Kristin Mills is this season’s winner. Here’s what her colleagues said about her:

Kristin shows excellent account management … She is great at delegating all account work to teams while also stepping in and helping out on the little things wherever necessary.  She is very flexible and allows her team members to try new things and always takes the time to talk things through.

Kristin is one smart cookie! My work with her showed me firsthand what an amazing team leader she is. Even when stressed and busy with work of her own she took the time to guide me through a lot of firsts for me. No matter the questions she had a well thought out and timely response for me. I think she is great.

There were other great nominations for Master, such as:

Tricia Weagant — Tricia displayed extraordinary account management of (this account.) She kept the entire team on schedule and was flawless with the entire project execution.

Charlene Magnaye has the golden touch when it comes to media outreach.  And we all know the golden touch is actually really, really smart outreach combined with dedication and effort.  I absolutely LOVE having her on any account because she is so thorough and it always pays off for our clients.  She gets results when no one else can and I think she should be recognized for it.

Nicole McKnight I witnessed how she graciously tackled all kinds of crisis issues that were arising leading up (to a client event.)  I was most impressed with how she quickly responded to the frantic client … Nicole worked with the client to make arrangements (needed to save the day.) She was calm and represented Ketchum well in her communication to the client during all of this and handling media relations.

Katie Zier-Vogel really knows her stuff. She has precise attention to detail and always executes events flawlessly. She’s a fantastic teacher and a pleasure to work with!

Erin Manning builds client business, and has extraordinary account management skills, and business management!  Not only is she able to keep the clients happy, she is able to build on those accounts.  She’s an expert on budgeting and … is also a great mentor to junior staff.

Debbie Boyce has demonstrated real professionalism from the moment she joined the Ketchum team. She takes ownership for everything she touches and delivers exceptional work consistently. She is keen to take on more responsibility and is always the first to put up her hand to help out. Debbie delivers time and time again. I’m thrilled that I have the opportunity to work with Debbie and excited for her bright future in PR.

Laura Jeffery truly embodies the attributes of The Master in that she consistently demonstrates professionalism and expertise.  She has a solid understanding of the client’s needs and ensures that the whole team delivers nothing but the best. Often, I approach Laura to vet an idea or advice that I want to parlay to the client and she is always able to instruct me on how to position it to meet (the client’s) expectations. She advocates for the team to continuously build relationships with key media and influencers, encouraging us to go for coffees/lunches with editors and bloggers. Because of this support, I have been able to meet prominent …  journalists and foster strong relationships with them.

Sherry Boisvert is a great resource to her team. She is constantly willing to share her past experience with account management, media relations, content and relationship building which has helped me transition into the world of technology and corporate affairs. If I have a question, I know Sherry will know the answer (and have a story to tell relating to it).


The Lion Award goes to the person who demonstrates courage by daring to be creative and/or innovative; by willingness to take smart risks and learn from them; by willingness to be different while still a committed team member; by exposing themselves to new ideas, new possibilities, new experiences and new learnings and sharing that knowledge; by being willing to speak the truth respectfully, ask tough questions thoughtfully, and accept challenging information openly and graciously.

This season, the Lion goes to Jim Black. Here’s what his colleagues said:

JIM is a true team player.  He isn’t fazed by difficult tasks, hard work or being very much the gender minority in the office.  He will accept challenges willingly and will learn from his mistakes.  He takes feedback well and is always striving to be a better professional.

Other nominees for the Lion were:

Erin Manning, for her leadership (on client account teams.)

Linsey Flannery — I appreciate Linsey’s efforts and commitment to exploring new realms for Ketchum, particularly her involvement in creating the Social Media committee. Her ideas are not only creative but beneficial to our everyday PR work.

Laura Watts – Laura has a thirst for knowledge and learning.  Always makes the effort to be creative or innovative .. not knowing the ramifications of some of her suggestions …  does not stop her from continuing to think, and suggest new ideas, always with good intentions in trying to create new concepts or better ways of doing things for Ketchum Canada.  Laura always speaks the truth, ask questions and accept challenging information openly and graciously!  Yes, a Lion!

Sherry Boisvert is a strong, fearless leader, who almost always demonstrates courage and creativity. She is never scared to voice her opinion in a group, and in fact, I think she purposefully brings this bold energy to meetings and brainstorms because she knows it’s for the greater good of the agency … Sherry is a dedicated team member who is always willing to learn something new and share what she knows.

Lisa Perruzza is always sharing learning’s, eager to try new things, excited about taking risks and a great member on the Not Carol committee. I’ve found her passion and enthusiasm contagious and I think she sets an amazing example within the office.

Charmaine Khan always brings creative and fun ideas to team meetings. She looks outside of the box and finds creative ways to fit trends into effective PR strategies. Charmaine constantly pushes her teams and the agency to pursue new tools, techniques and campaign ideas that are unfamiliar, has a pulse on new/emerging industry trends and is always on the lookout for new and innovative ways to tell client stories … is never afraid to speak her mind or to throw out a suggestion, even if she thinks it might be risky.

The Builder Awardgoes to the person whodemonstrates an impressive ability to build teams, to build relationships, to build careers, to build our industry’s best professionals, to build respect and inclusiveness, to build our business, and to build the kind of workplace that we all want to be a part of.

This season’s winner is Erin Manning. Here’s what her colleagues say:

Erin has impressed me with her commitment to building our teams, ensuring each person on the teams is treated with respect and has the opportunity to learn and grow in their careers.

Erin –Erin is a great leader who constantly inspires her team and everyone who works with her. She is always encouraging and always gives praise where praise is needed. She makes everyone in her teams feel important and shows sincere care in helping others build on their skills.

Erin —  This isn’t just a job for Erin.  She feels responsible for the people she manages, works herself into the ground (when needed) to make her clients happy and she thinks about the bigger picture of Ketchum Canada, always brainstorming ways to make this a better place to work for the people who work here.  She has tremendous pride in what she does and we all benefit from it.

Other nominees for the Builder Award were:

Tricia Weagant – Tricia wears her heart on her sleeve and always seems to find a common ground with her co-workers and clients. She’s a natural people person because she keeps it real and genuinely has a passion for making friends. She makes our pod a happier place!

Sydney Dare – Although she flies under the radar, Sydney might secretly be Ketchum’s social convener. Who would have thought that sweet little pipsqueak was the president of her sorority, on the cheerleading team at Western (the best in the country), and a pro water skier? …  Sydney is the type of person who builds extremely strong relationships one at a time, and then before you know it, she’s the most popular person in the office and we’re all looking to her to find out what we’re doing on Friday night. She rocks.

Kathy Khamis – All in all a really great partner. Further, Kathy has already made meaningful contributions to the CSR committee, coming up with great ideas that inspired the team and reminding everyone why it is so important to give back.

Linsey Flannery – One of her greatest strengths is her ability to build teams and foster relationships.  Though Linsey is extremely busy with client requests and new business plans, she always takes the time to help junior staff build on their skills and further their careers … Linsey really listens and actively pursues opportunities to help me reach my goals … She has also been a key player in building the Ketchum business.

Laura Jeffery leads her teams with confidence and understanding. It is clear that she understands the abilities and strengths of each member of her team and provides opportunities for everyone to succeed in their roles. Laura has also spent countless hours building relationships with top tier media and influencers and is happy to share her knowledge and learnings with the team.

Lions, Masters, Saints, Builders Prowl Ketchum Canada Offices

In Uncategorized on August 12, 2011 at 3:55 pm

Two countries separated by the same language*? Welcome to Canada, Will and Kate

In Uncategorized on June 28, 2011 at 4:15 pm

Will and Kate looking forward to their Canadian adventure.

A guide to Canadianisms for William and Catherine’s first North American tour

 Toronto, June 28, 2011 – In welcoming the royal couple to our home and native land for their first visit to Canada, Ketchum Public Relations offers this helpful guide to Prince William and Duchess Catherine on some of the curious Canadianisms they may encounter.

“While Brits and Canadians share the English language, it might come as a surprise to the royal couple that Canadian English contains words, phrases and meanings that are unique and that don’t resonate with people from other English-speaking counties, including the Brits,” said Emma Capombassis, Senior Vice President, Ketchum Public Relations Canada and a British expat herself. “In the spirit of service, we offer this guide to enable the royal couple to be aware of the some of the language and cultural differences that will inevitability arise in their interactions with Canadian officials and the public. So, William, you can be safe in the knowledge that if someone happens to mention that they love your pants, they very likely aren’t referring to your underwear.”

The couple’s nine-day tour kicks off this Thursday in Ottawa. No matter where they find themselves during their Canada tour, it’s important to keep the following in mind:

  • Canadians have a fondness for Tim Horton’s coffee, so replace the cuppa and biscuit with a Timmy’s double double and a Timbit.
  • When we talk hockey, we’re referring to Canada’s official national winter sport played on a sheet of ice, not women’s field hockey (no disrespect to the Duchess of Cambridge, former captain of her field hockey team). In fact, in Canada the term “ice hockey” is redundant, and reveals you as a foreigner.
  • When you say football, we think of the game where passing is done with your hands, not your feet. We know that what you’re talking about is the world’s most popular sport, and we love it to. But we still call it soccer.
  • When referring to your friend as a “mate” Canadians will wonder if you’re referring to a classmate, housemate or lover.
  • Should your pants come up in conversation, the reference is to your trousers, not your undies.
  • When nature calls and you need to find the appropriate facilitates, forget about asking for directions to the “toilet” or “loo.” We speak in code of such things. You want the “washroom,” “bathroom,” “restroom,” or in cases of extreme social discomfort, “the little boys'” or “little girls'” room. Out west it might be “heifers” or “bulls.” In the east, “Mermaids” or “Mermen.”
  • Bonus points for ending a statement with “eh?” when seeking a response, whether it be one of confirmation or disagreement.

 While visiting seven cities across Canada, here are some regional tips to keep in mind:

 In between visits to the Museum of Civilization and Parliament Hill in Ottawa pick up a beavertail. But no need to suit up for hunting. Beavertails are a local dessert specialty made of fried dough, often topped with cinnamon and sugar. We’re told President Barack Obama loved his.

In Montreal and Quebec City feel free to practice the French you studied for your A-levels (no Canadian equivalent)  with French words such as “enchanté” for nice to meet you or “merci beaucoup” for thank you very much. The effort to parler Francais is much appreciated. It is also worth noting that Quebec employs much warmer greetings than the rest of Canada. Don’t be alarmed if kisses land on both cheeks even when greeting a stranger.

Before boarding the HMCS Montreal to set sail to Quebec City, pick up some snacks at the local depanneur, or corner shop. Lastly, no Quebec visit is complete without tasting poutine, a local delicacy of french fries covered with cheese curds and gravy. Bon appétit!

After visiting Charlottetown and arriving in Summerside by helicopter keep an eye out for PEI’s red sand beaches. Also have a listen for the East Coast way of referring to a guy or girl as a “feller or lad.” Maritimers are friendly, never in a rush,  very laid back, and well known for offering their homes to strangers.

Yellowknife.  In the summertime, the sun shines for nearly 24 hours a day.  If you find it hard to sleep with the sun shining be sure to bring an eye mask with you. July is the warmest month in the Northwest Territories. And did you pack your bug hats?

Be advised that there’s a saying in Calgary, “If you don’t like the weather, wait 15 minutes,” which refers to the city’s extreme climate changes. Grab your cowboy hat (and a toque, just in case) as well as your cowboy boots when heading off to the Calgary Stampede parade. When departing Cow-Town if you are asked where you are headed next, reply as a Canadian would and say “the States” instead of “America.”

To the Duke and Duchess (though you’ll always be Wills and Kate to us), have a wonderful time, eh?

 * The quote, “two countries separated by the same language,” from George Bernard Shaw, was in reference to Britain and the United States, but it may equally be applicable to Britain and Canada.

About Ketchum

An innovator in communication since 1923, Ketchum delivers seamless service around the world through its 66 offices in Europe, North America, Asia Pacific and Latin America.  Ketchum was chosen as the PRNews “Large Firm of the Year” in 2010. Additional information on Ketchum and its award-winning work can be found at

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Leslie Jackson, Account Executive (416) 355-7421