Top 10 BUS-330 Learnings

Posted in Advanced Communications with tags , on December 1, 2012 by Stewart

So I have spent a semester blogging (there are still a couple more posts to come) and taking an Advanced Communications class, I thought it would be important to list the top 10 things that I have learned from this class, in reverse order:

10. Communications written by people in this field are everywhere, there are so many good examples out there but also a large quantity of bad examples; finding that distinction is very important.

9. There is a constant need for communications at all levels of an organization, even when things are going well it is important to continue to strengthen existing communications networks so you will have more control for the future.  Strong communication breeds success.

8. Make sure that you think of all the ways your communications could be interpreted, it is important to remember that like-minded people will often comprehend things the same way that you do.  It is important to check for understanding amongst multiple publics.

7. Often times a lower word count can be a benefit, it is much more important to maintain reader’s interest for a short period of time where you can get across your main points than to seek interest for a long time in an attempt to inform more fully that ultimately fails because the reader has been lost.

6. You can always remove words from what you have written, every edit you will find something to fix, a way to say something in a better way, don’t be afraid to edit.

5. There are a lot of opportunities for some very interesting jobs in the world of communications, these opportunities can present themselves in many ways – be open to them.

4.  Align your work no matter what you are writing for or designing, aligning makes a world of difference in readability and gives you the ability to draw your reader in from a distance.

3. Be flexible, timelines quite often change and you need to be prepared to adjust to that at all times and work within the timeline that is given.

2. Graphic artists are worth their weight in gold, I find it easy to come up with the vision for how I want everything laid out.  The transition from vision to paper can take a lot longer than expected at times.

1. Think both inside AND outside the box, come up with simple ideas which can come from anywhere and build from there but never forget the simple idea that started it all.


Hopefully you have enjoyed reading this blog this semester, who knows, maybe I will be back on it again soon!


Comparing Annual Reports

Posted in Advanced Communications with tags , on December 1, 2012 by Stewart

For our in class assignment we were asked to compare annual reports of three different companies.  After looking at the long list of Canadian companies I realized that there were a minimal number of companies that I had either heard of or interacted with as a consumer.  So like many other people in the class I chose to look at Lululemon, Lionsgate and TELUS first, because I had heard of them but after downloading and taking my first look at the reports it became quite clear that these were completely different reports; of course, they were different in content but they were also vastly different in the way that they were formatted and presented.

Lululemon had used a video rather than an actual paper report, I suppose it made it more personal and obviously less harmful to the environment but as an investor I don’t know how impressed I would be.  If the company was doing well – like Lululemon is – it would be okay, but in rough times I would want to know much more detail than any video could hope to provide.  Nonetheless, it provided some interesting content and overall I thought it was a refreshing and interesting way to present such a report.

Lionsgate must have spent all their graphic design budget on the movies because their annual report was devoid of colour, design or really anything that would have made it interesting to look at.  None of the important facts were highlighted in any way that would catch the reader’s eye.  The only colour that I saw in the report was a single shade of blue that was used to colour the company’s name.  Overall, from a communications perspective I have to say that this was the worst report by far.

TELUS restored my faith in companies making paper reports, they had used colour, design and alignment perfectly to draw the reader’s eyes to the right parts of the page and present all of the relevant information.  Furthermore, they had brought forward all of the important numbers and placed them on one page.  Everything had been coloured if it required attention or was numbered so that the pages of the report were easy to keep track of.

I felt that the TELUS report was the most effective, followed by Lululemon and in last would have been Lionsgate.

All of the reports are available at the links below if you are interested.

TELUS is available here

Lululemon Athletica is available here

Lionsgate Entertainment is available here


Bartering is Not Dead!: Comment

Posted in Blog Comments with tags on November 27, 2012 by Stewart

Andrew posted an article on bartering at a computer store, having worked in computer stores in the past I found it very interesting, here is my comment:

This presents an interesting situation, when I worked at Best Buy, bartering was an implied part of the training. We were quickly showed how to access pricing information and told which things had the highest margins so we were readily able to barter with the customer. However, the downfall of Best Buy was that since they don’t trust their employees, everything had to be passed through a manager so it limited the ability you had as an employee to effectively barter.

I think that this is a very effective way to make a sale as people love being able to say that they got something for “free” with their purchase and its even better if they got a discount off of the retail price. This also leads back to your original point, the idea of creating a relationship with the customer which is something that is just about as close to dead as can be in the world of electronics. Most people are highly price sensitive and therefore will just go to the place with the lowest price. By entering the idea of bartering into the negotiation it may bring people through the doors in the future if only just to see how low they can negotiate the price down which, if they feel they continue to get good prices and after-sales service from you may build a relationship.

Andrew’s blog is available here

XL Foods – Surprisingly Still Going: Comment

Posted in Blog Comments with tags on November 27, 2012 by Stewart

This is the comment that I left on Madelynn’s blog:

It is interesting to me as well how they have handled this situation, most food producing companies deeply value the trust that they build in their customers. Food is one area where people are very sensitive to not only the locality of their foods, but the quality and safety of their foods. As a food producer, you would expect them to provide at least some information on how this happened and how they are working towards it not happening in the future. Instead, they have spent their time dodging the criticism.

A good example of how to handle food issues came from the recalls that occurred at Maple Leaf Foods just a couple years ago. Immediately, they accepted blame and distributed information on effected products and even went so far as to publish a personal apology from their CEO. This approach helped them to avoid some of the inevitable backlash from the consumer that happens after a recall and allowed them to continue on as a company much more effectively.

Here is a link to the CEO’s video:

Here is the link to her blog, “Mad about Marketing”

Design with Aligning

Posted in Advanced Communications with tags on November 26, 2012 by Stewart

One of the things that I learned from reading the non-designer’s design text was the importance of keeping things consistent; the way to book presents what you should do right next to what you shouldn’t do provides a stark contrast as to how much more effective it looks when things are properly aligned.  Not only does it make it easier to read if you are interested and want to read the whole thing but it makes it easier for you to scan the entire page of information and pick out the most interesting content.

In class, there was talk that people only read 20% of what is on the page when they are reading online, this also has an effect on the way that we must align and place content on the page as people’s attention spans grow shorter and shorter over time.  I read the other day that a slowdown of just one second on Amazon’s website response time could cost the company upwards of a billion dollars over the course of a year, that’s a lot of money to lose over a second.  It goes to show the importance of having the information that people need easily available and ensuring that people are able to get where they need to go quickly.  The same place that had the Amazon fact also said that people will wait less than three seconds to see if they find the information before abandoning the website altogether in favour of another webpage.

It all points to one conclusion, if your content is not easy on the eye, there is always somewhere else to look, especially on the internet.

Post Secondary Costs on the Incline: Comment

Posted in Blog Comments with tags on November 26, 2012 by Stewart

Here is my comment on Jon’s blog:

You are probably right, the parking will get us in the end. Given that it has gone up in the neighbourhood of 10-20% every semester that I have been here, greatly outpacing the growth in expenses of school. However, thankfully, parking started at a much lower cost.

It is interesting to see the long term projection over 20 years of where our tuition rates are headed, usually we are only given the short term estimation because people are more affected by those numbers. It should be interesting to see if the estimation of 50% holds up across all tuition rates. This could have some extreme effects, especially in the United States where their tuition rates start in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Jon’s blog can be found here

Oh… That’s Bad Marketing

Posted in Advanced Communications with tags on November 26, 2012 by Stewart

I was sitting the other day and listening to a conversation at the Commowealth Recreation Center between two people.  The annual craft fair was on and they were discussing their distaste for the “marketing” that had caused there to be a three dollar admission charge to the craft fair this year.  I was sitting there thinking to myself: “is this really marketing’s fault?”  As I listened and they ranted about how they thought it was outrageous and how it would almost certainly result in there being almost no one attending this year.  Problem with this was, when I came into the parking lot on that day I was forced to engage in a 10 minute search for parking, not something that ever happens when I go to Commonwealth.

So clearly, these people had missed out on this experience when they had come to park on this day.  However, this raised a more important question, is it marketing’s fault that they had decided to charge an admission fee because they knew that this would not deter people from attending, in fact, it may have served to improve the experience for those that did attend by lessening the crowds that were filling the entire area.

As time goes on, I think that these types of admission fees will continue to surface, or increase over time as it may be and it raises the question for me as to whether these fees are “marketing’s fault”?  What do you think, do you think that these are the fault of money hungry marketers or just an inevitable evolution over time?