Category Archives: Vancouver

Follower-bombing as a political prank

This morning brought the news that municipal party Vision Vancouver‘s Twitter following (along with Mayor Gregor Robertson‘s) had ballooned overnight, and that most of those followers were fake. What should have been a non-story wasn’t, because politics and municipal election in November.

I weighed in, and I hope helped to clear this up a little. Here are my comments, collected in one handy bundle.

It wasn’t that long ago that news media and political opponents alike would run breathless stories about how some pol’s website was just four clicks away from pornography! Fortunately, something like that wouldn’t make headlines these days, because we’re a lot smarter about how the Internet works.

Which means there may be one bright side to this. Today the #vanpoli world got a crash course in the exciting world of fake followers. Maybe it’ll leave us all a lot less prone to using follower counts as any metric of social media influence or success.

This morning’s sunrise in Vancouver

I am a night owl, but for some reason I awoke just before six this morning, and realized I had a chance to do something I never do: have coffee on the deck and watch the sun rise over Vancouver’s skyline. And I thought I’d share it with you.

Join me at the IABC/BC Bronze Quill awards!

I’m going to be emceeing (take that, autocorrect!) the IABC/BC Bronze Quill awards next Wednesday night, June 12, at the swishy Renaissance Vancouver Harbourside.

(For everyone who is suddenly consumed with anxiety at that news, the organizers have spoken with me and made it clear that my usual garb of Speedo and football cleats will be, ah, inadequate for the event. So it’s off to Mark’s Work Warehouse for a whole new wardrobe!)

We’ll be celebrating the very best in organizational communications, and I couldn’t be more delighted. Tickets are still available from the IABC.

See you there!

Catch Colin Moorhouse’s speechwriting workshop – in person or online

I’ve known Colin Moorhouse for several years now, mostly as a disembodied (phone, social media and email) presence — but a thoughtful, experienced and generous one.

Possibly the leading speechwriting trainer out there (with two decades under his belt!), he has a lot of insight and knowledge to share. And he’s done just that for countless students through his intensive annual two-day workshop at Vancouver’s Simon Fraser University.

You can also take Colin’s course online, running six weeks but with the same hands-on practical assignments, individual attention and focus on the business as well as the craft of speechwriting.

Both workshops start in March, but with Colin’s reputation, I’d sign up now. The on-site workshop takes place all day Friday March 1 and March 8 at SFU’s downtown campus. And the online course begins on March 15, with an early-bird discount available now.

Filed under: Speechwriting, Vendors and Products Tagged: Colin Moorhouse, course, sfu, teaching, training, vancouver, workshop

Laugh riot: Morgan Brayton and eight other leading sources of Vancouver funny

I really hate that whole philosophy of what makes a good comedian or artist. I don’t believe that in order to be funny, you need to be in pain, addicted to something or a dude.

WestEnder front pageI did a double-take coming out of Blenz this morning, having put in a few solid hours of work and arranged with Morgan — Social Signal’s operations manager — to meet up later in the day.

And yet there, in the WestEnder newspaper box outside of the Blenz entrance, was Morgan’s face on the front page.

I have an “I knew her when…” blog post all queued up and ready to go in a year or two. I might have to bump up the publication date.

Posted via email from Rob Cottingham’s posterous

The Art of Social Media starts Jan. 17 at Emily Carr University

Heads up, Vancouverites: next week, my workshop The Art of Social Media begins its six-week run Monday evenings at Emily Carr University of Art and Design:

An introduction to social media for people who want to use social media as a platform for creative expression, as a communications and marketing tool, or just to stay in touch with family and friends. Learn the basics of blogs, Flickr, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and more. Find out how to stay safe, be productive and have fun online.

It runs Monday evenings, 7:00 to 10:00 pm on Granville Island. (That’s right: you can go straight from class to one of the most happening places on the whole damn west coast of North America, right at the peak time for happeningness!)

And it’s just one of six, count ’em, six courses happening this term as part of Emily Carr’s new and growing social media continuing studies offering. They include:

What’s missing from the Vancouver Police Twitter feed?

Last week, the Vancouver Police Department launched their Twitter presence with a day-long marathon of tweeting the calls that came into the force. It was a success, rocketing them from zero to well over 1,800 followers that afternoon.

I got to comment on it for CTV News (here are the national and the local stories). While a lot of folks were critical of how long the VPD have taken to arrive on Twitter, I’m a little more forgiving; it can be a little hard for strongly hierarchical organizations to make the leap to the world of real-time online public conversation.

They’re in the thick of it now: from suggestions that they open up their crime maps and databases, to media questions about major incidents, tocomplaints about their antiquated web site, to gratuitous verbal abuse.

It’s been an interesting experiment, although it’s not quite clear yet where @VancouverPD is headed. When the reporter asked what I’d recommend for the future, I said they needed to become a lot more conversational… but now that I’ve had a little more time to read both their Twitter stream and the reaction to it, I’d answer differently. Yes, I’d like to see conversation (and that’s picked up admirably in recent days) – but more than that, I’d like to see compassion.

Because reading the discussion around their tweets, I see a lot of people ridiculing the mentally ill and people in distress – or at least riffing off their behaviour to tweak their friends. The @VancouverPD’s tweets about a woman dancing naked in the street or a man yelling at passers-by  quickly become fodder for jokes.

And why wouldn’t they? In a context-free tweet, the stark facts of the situation are funny. Once you remember that these are people who may well be facing overwhelming difficulty or pain, though, the jokes start to fall flat… but you get a better, fuller idea of what’s really happening.

The first day’s tweets were supposed to give us a picture of the daily life of the Vancouver Police Force. Compassion is part of that picture, and so far it’s been missing – not because their feed has been deliberately callous, but because their approach to date hasn’t made room for it. Even a few tweets reminding people that these are real people facing real struggles could provide some crucial context.

(Postscript: Justin Long shared the same concerns in a post a few days ago, framing it in the context of a similar initiative in Manchester.)

Raccoonery at the Vancouver Fringe

Morgan BraytonEver had the experience of knowing a friend was talented – really talented? And then you see her truly rock out, and you realize, oh my god, I’d only seen a sliver of what she can do?

That’s how I felt watching Morgan Brayton performing her show Raccoonery last night at the Vancouver Fringe Festival. I knew she was funny, but had no idea she was that funny.

Nor did I know she could write characters that are hateful, self-delusional, poisonous or flat-out ignorant… yet bring out their humanity with just a few words, an insecure hesitation, or an offhand gesture, and turn what could have been contempt into compassion.

Nor did I know she could sing, or that she could write the kind of terrific, side-splitting songs that punctuate the show’s procession of characters. (Mayor Gregor Robertson gets a shout-out in one of them.)

Nor did I know that a friend I’ve known and worked with for the past two years could vanish so completely into a character, make me believe her, and then pop out again inside the space of a few minutes.

I know that now. Which is why I’m pretty confident in urging you to go see Raccoonery:

Morgan Brayton (Girls Like Me, 30 Helens) is back with a new collection of comedic characters; a moth with boyfriend troubles; a high school-hating, Van Halen-loving valedictorian of the class of ’84; a princess with a penchant for ice cream; oh, and the return of Button Bradley. Non-stop raccoonery from beginning to end!

“Brayton’s characterizations are detailed, her timing is impeccable, and her range is astonishing.” -Georgia Straight

“Proves sketch comedy can have the same emotional heft as any form of theatre.” -Xtra West

“She’s funny! -Westender

It runs September 11, 16, 17 and 19 on Granville Island as part of the Fringe Festival. (Comes complete with naughty language and – what’s the expression? – mature themes.) Buy tickets here.

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