•November 3, 2010 • 3 Comments

Fastest Growing Facebook demographic is …over 65!



I was invited this morning to a private breakfast with Sheryl Sandberg COO of Facebook worldwide. This is a beautiful, smart, vibrant woman (with two young children) that happens to be running the fastest growth company in the world. Her non-profit passion is to help women develop and she is very involved in an organization called “women for women” in third world countries….later today she is hosting a luncheon in Toronto for young women to discuss their hopes and dreams.


It was fascinating to hear her insight into the “fastest growth company ever” and what the future holds.   Here is what she talked about today:


  • The world is social.
  • Friends tell friends…everything. Everything is better when it is about you and your friends.
  • Today’s consumer demands a two way conversation. All business is now “personal”. Consumers are your marketers.
  • Brands matter….communicate what your brand is.
  • Make everything one to one.
    • There are 550 million active Facbook users around the world.
    • 16 million Canadians active on Facebook every month.
    • 10 million active Facebook users every single day.
    • 82% of Canadian internet population visits Facebook every month. On average Canadians spend about 7 hours a month on the site.
    • 1/3 of all access in Canada is via mobile which makes users twice as active.
    • If Facebook was a country it would be the third largest in the world with a gigger population than US, Germany and Japan combined.
    • Average Canadian has 190 friends (greater than the global average of 130).
    • When you see your friend’s name/picture beside an item, you are 4 times more likely to buy it
    • Teenage kids don’t email …they Facebook. The kids understand the privacy issue much better than adults.
    • Facebook is very concerned about our privacy. Their privacy policy leads the world.
    • Facebook is the number 1 mobile app and 50% use their devices for mobile browsing time.
    • Where do people get their info? Not from the wisdom of crowds but from the wisdom of their friends.
    • Facebook is content agnostic ….they never push information.
    • You can X out an ad anytime on Facebook.
    • Fastest demographic on Facebook is 65 – grandparents love to post pictures of their grandchildren.
    • Businesses: old school to push out marketing.  Now you ask the questions….and answer them.
    • Businesses: old school to launch a marketing plan.  Instead ask “Hi, we are here…what should we put on our page?” Socialize.
    • Businesses: no more upfront marketing planning…have a fluid plan that changes daily.
    • Businesses: if you have a 12 day approval process for postings you need to get it down to 2 hours.
    • Companies that will win have people that can post FAST.
    • It doesn’t have to be perfect. Don’t control your brand….shape it.  Consumers control your brand now.
    • Don’t be perfect…be real.
    • Businesses: Map out on a page where your customers spend their time. Now MAP out where you are marketing your brand.
    • Next big headlines will be how cookies follow us everywhere we go (not Facebook but others). This is the big story.
    • Zuckerberg is nice, funny, and a product genius of our time.
    • Facebook is cash flow positive and plans to grow organically.
    • Globally, Facebook is the number one place online we spend time (in Canada it is number 2 for some reason)
    • More people play games on Facebook than the top 3 gaming companies combined.
    • 8 of the top 10 global business leaders are now “social”.


Mat Wilcox



Should students studying PR work for an agency? 20 points for you to consider.

•October 6, 2010 • 3 Comments

I am often asked by PR students if they could come and meet with me to discuss the “PR agency world”.  While I am no longer hiring, here is a quick guide to tell you if you are the right person to work in an agency.

  1. If you think the Corporate PR agency world is “glamorous” then you are barking up the wrong tree. There may be others that are a better fit for you…i.e. event firms.
  2. If you are in PR because you “like people” you are really barking up the wrong tree. It is not about people it is all about strategy.
  3. Agencies are tough.  They carry immense pressure and constant deadlines. Clients are unforgiving.  They pay top dollars for results and have high expectations (can you get me on the cover of Time magazine?).
  4. You are only as good as your last job (press release, event…). Agencies are a constant turnover of proving your skills with very little thanks in return.
  5. If you use the word Spin in any sentence then you are in the wrong career.
  6. “I am interested in crisis management. I love deadlines….” So many people have said that to me…but when they are in the soup they realize that the pressure cooker isn’t as fun or exciting as it sounds.  Many cave under the fast turn around decisions and don’t have the ability to move quickly. Few have the guts to make decisions that can cost a client hundreds of thousands of dollars. You need to work in a well oiled team and deliver on your assignment.
  7. In the agency world you need to be able to write clearly and with purpose.  8 out of 10 students failed our writing exam even though they said they were a great writer going in to it.
  8. A natural desire to know every reporter in every medium.
  9. A natural desire to understand issues.
  10. A natural desire to question every story.
  11. Do you have a low boredom threshold? If so… then this job is for you.
  12. Do you see two sides to every issue?
  13. Do you have a burning desire to work on issues?
  14. Can you problem solve?
  15. Are you a detail freak?
  16. Do you have the attention to keep track of every minute of your day so the agency can bill your time properly?
  17. You need to start from the very bottom…no matter what other experience you may have.  You need to be able to do 50 tasks well before you can move up the ladder.
  18. Most agencies can’t compete with in-house salaries. Are you in it for the money or for the experience?
  19. Do you read four newspapers a day? If so then agencies are the right job for you.
  20. Process. Proactivity. Passion. The three key areas for rock stars in the agency world.

Mat Wilcox

BC Business blog post: The death of PR?

•September 3, 2010 • 3 Comments

In light of today’s BC Business article, I thought I’d add a few final thoughts.

Many thought I was saying that it’s the death of PR when I closed my firm in August.

What I said is that PR firms and practitioners have to evolve dramatically to meet the changing needs brought on by social media. Old PR strategies aren’t meeting clients’ needs (when I speak of clients I am referring to large scale campaigns, not one-off marketing strategies). Media, both traditional and online,  and consumers expect to receive information at the speed of sound – 24 hours a day, at their convenience. Our industry needs to focus resources on connecting directly with the public more than ever before.

Social media engages enormous audiences in a short amount of time and perception becomes reality very quickly. Tweets and re-tweets can reach as many people instantly as some radio stations reach in a quarter hour. Companies need huge resources to react quickly and senior strategists to identify gaps and provide analysis. Full service PR firms (that use social media) now need a much bigger team to handle a crisis…and there are a lot of costs associated with a bigger size.

The issue clients have with social media is they don’t know how to measure it and they certainly are loathe to pay for it. Traditional PR tactics can be measured – albeit there is a lot of discussion on existing measurement standards – while social media measurement tools are cumbersome and are expensive. On top of it all it takes a lot of manpower to sift through the information flow.

Many corporations are unprepared for the onslaught of social media and have reservations about how to manage it properly. Unfortunately, some choose not to manage it at all because they don’t think they have the resources or the budget line for this new medium. Online comments can lack credibility or may be based on rumours – public companies won’t and can’t comment or speculate on rumours. On the flip side many companies overreact to online comments, overly compensating for small issues rather than saying “I am sorry you had a bad customer experience”.

In a crisis, CEOs are now required to be actors on YouTube – and they are often  not trained or prepared for that the medium.
Look at the “fake” BP twitter site. Hijacking brands is a problem that is very difficult to fix. In my opinion, JetBlue did a fantastic job with their communications in responding to its flight attendant who made a dramatic job exit earlier this summer.

Today companies are dealing with exponentially bigger audiences than ever before. Everyone is a critic. We would need a team at least triple the size we have right now to handle speed of light information broadcast via non-traditional channels like blogs, Facebook, YouTube and USTREAM to name a few. We don’t have the luxury of concise well planned communications, and we certainly don’t have the luxury of waiting until the next day to address an issue.

How do you charge for social media in a crisis? And who wants to pay for something they can’t really wrap their head around? Not many companies are prepared to give an open budget to deal with these issues without having an understanding of what the cost will be. Tricky. But the more important question is what would it cost the brand if companies remain on the sidelines?

It’s not the death of PR but certainly a major shift in the way we need to think.

Mat Wilcox


The Reference Desk for August 17, 2010

•August 17, 2010 • Leave a Comment
social media news

photo credit: shanebee

Here are some of the great stories I came across in social media over the past week. I’m sad to say that this will be my last official Reference Desk blog post, but I’ll be continuing to tweet cool social media links and news, so please follow me on Twitter.

  • Flowtown has produced an updated “map” of social networking today – quite a difference to the “map” from 2007. Check them both out via the Huffington Post
  • Finally, Mashable has a post on the future of public relations and social media. What do you think is the future? How is social media changing the PR industry?

~ Jeff Voon

The wind down at WG

•August 12, 2010 • 3 Comments

Despite winding the business down, we’ve been awfully busy the last two months. I have been in Toronto working on a major client project. My team has been wrapping up loose ends for clients, managing two product recalls and rocking media relations. Lynsey landed In Style magazine for Lesley Stowe! This of course, called for a round of shooters at the boardroom table.

There has been a lot of discussion about my blog posts about closing the business and the changing world of social media and public relations. There have been essays written on it, round table colleague sessions analyzing it and media interview requests questioning it. I was initially surprised by the reaction, but I now realize that our industry is in a bigger state of flux than even I thought.  I still stand my ground that we as an industry are not moving fast enough. So, to answer everyone’s questions, I ended up doing an in-depth article with BC Business magazine to elaborate more on the changing face of PR. The issue comes out in September and I will blog about it when it does. Never one to shy away from controversy, I have a feeling that this piece will stir things up.

Closing the firm has certainly been harder than opening it was – there are so many facets to running a large agency. It has been our finest logistical challenge to close down, keep our clients happy and find them new resources. Our team is finding jobs. We are donating some of our furniture to charity – notably Crabtree Corner in the Downtown Eastside. We also donated our art work to the BC Cancer Clinic in hopes that it will make the waiting room a little easier to bear.

We edge closer and closer to the wind down of the firm at the end of August. As each day passes, I feel sadder to see my team prepare for their next adventures without me. It’s selfish, but true. I really hate to see them leave.


The Reference Desk for August 10, 2010

•August 10, 2010 • Leave a Comment
Social Media news

photo credit: PAVDW

After a week off, the Reference Desk is back with a new post of breaking social media news and amazing links you need to read.

  • Looks like the Old Spice guy campaign actually paid off, as Nielsen data on The Next Web shows a 107% sales increase
  • Sad to report the Wheat Thins delivery commercial isn’t true. Turns out the update was posted on Facebook, not Twitter as in the commercial.
  • Mashable gives you some reasons why you need to monitor and measure your brand on social media. Six Revisions reviews 12 social media monitoring tools if you’re not sure which ones to use.
  • If you’re still unsure about social media guidelines, Econsultancy has seven steps to writing perfect ones
  • Finally, in an example for all bands to follow, here’s what the band Arcade Fire did on social media to help launch their new album – via ReadWriteWeb

~ Jeff Voon

Skills every developing PR professional needs to have

•August 6, 2010 • Leave a Comment
How to get a job in PR

photo credit: DoktorSpin

I’ve been working in communications-type roles for a decade. I cut my professional teeth in the pharmaceutical industry before taking a position at a global communications agency. I’d had several years of experience by that point, but when I started in agency I felt like I was starting anew again; fresh-faced and straight out of school.

I moved up quickly and had some great successes early on in my agency career. One of the reasons was because I was passionate and dedicated. I also had a great mentor and colleagues. But the key component to my long-term success was the focus I put on the skills below.

Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of mentoring a wide variety of developing professionals (I don’t say young because these days you’re never too old to make a change in your career path). What I’ve found is that the ones who were the most successful shared similar traits, regardless of the industry they worked in. Here are my top tips for becoming a rock star in your PR profession:

Be confident. Having confidence instills confidence in those around you. In my opinion it is a foundational trait and one that a good manager and mentor will help you continue to cultivate. It’s a trait that always develops and it’s natural to see its level fluctuate each time you move forward in your career or tackle new challenges.

Be a sponge. This is especially key during the first few years of your career. Learn everything you possibly can and take lots of notes in meetings. Part of being a sponge is being inquisitive and asking questions. For example, in my first agency weekly team meeting (where we would talk about the current client projects and share key learnings) I took lots of notes. I then set up quick meetings with each of the team leaders in the office to talk about their clients and the type of work that we did for them. I worked solely on healthcare clients at the time so these meetings allowed me to quickly get up to speed on the different types of work being done at the agency and even gave me a few ideas to take back to my client teams.

Be a resource. Offer up ideas when they come to you and provide your perspective in meetings. Read about a great integrated social media campaign – could it be used for a client? Share it! Have you been reading about an issue that could eventually apply to one of your clients? Talk to your team leader and offer to draft a note to the client.

Be able to take feedback. Part of growing is taking constructive criticism and applying it to the next task or learning from mistakes. In fact, it’s always been my firm belief that the latter is the best way to learn. What managers are looking for in their junior employees is growth. Demonstrating it and not repeating past mistakes also helps support the next important trait – reliability.

Be reliable. This is where the term “under promise and over deliver” is often used. If you’re given a task to complete then make sure that everyone is clear on the deadline. If you can’t meet or exceed the timeline, then make sure you’re managing expectations early on so that you’re not leaving the rest of your team in the lurch. Even if you’re on track with a project, consider providing your client or team leader with a quick update. That way you can check in and ask questions, if needed. It might also allow you to identify potential opportunities that may not have been considered at the beginning of the project. Look at that: you’re being a resource! 

Be the person that raises his or her hand. Hard workers are rewarded; it’s as simple as that. If your workload is light and someone else is struggling, ask if you can help them out and take on some of the work. If you’re in a meeting and there’s a special project, offer your assistance. But remember not to take on so much that it will negatively affect your ability to deliver.

Those are some of the key attributes that I’ve seen demonstrated in successful developing professionals. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts if you agree or even disagree. Feel free to leave a comment below.

Before I end this post, I would be remiss if I didn’t call out another skill that all professionals need to have, regardless of where they’re at in their career. Know how to network. I have always been amazed by the power of networking – especially now that I’m looking for a new role. In my opinion, getting yourself out there and talking to people is the single biggest way to advance your career. Searching for positions on workopolis.com or monster.com and submitting endless cover letters and resumes by email will only get you so far.

Every single job that I’ve had came from networking with people, including Wilcox Group. It will very likely help me land my next role too.

Trevor Boudreau