Category Archives: Issues & Crisis

30 years of business and still loving it…and learning

I was watching The Today Show with Stephen Cobert one night and Matthew Broderick was his guest. He was talking about the 30th Anniversary of that movie classic, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. The two were reminiscing about all the well-known scenes and I was laughing out loud along with them. “Bueller…Bueller…” and then they mentioned that it came out in 1986 and then moved on to discussing 1987.

1987???? Wait a second…that’s the year I graduated from university and started working.


I wasn’t laughing anymore.

Time flies when you’re having fun. Okay, it wasn’t all exactly fun, but it was interesting. And challenging. And I’ve learned a lot.

Oh the things I’ve learned to do for clients! I’ve learned to drive a race car…I’ve learned to make pickles…and filmed how pasta is made….

And the things I’ve done….I’ve danced with Olympic mascots and Mickey Mouse and thrown a party for Barbie at Casa Loma; I’ve launched Excel gum using one of the very first guerilla experiential programs in Canada; and texting in Canada….I launched cell phone texting in Canada – nobody thought that was going to catch on! I still remember trying to explain that to media.

I’ve written crisis plans that you hoped would never be needed, and developed product recalls plans on the fly as they were happening because plans were never written. I’ve dealt with bomb threats, fire hazards, company safety needs and personal death threats.

I’ve thrown parties for P. Diddy and Beyoncé to launch their fashion lines in Canada.

And I know the Caramilk secret….

I recently just finished a six month, full-time contract, going back to my roots and doing agricultural marketing communications.  I immersed myself in farming, seeds, corn, weeds and so much more, gaining insight about innovative new advances. It was wonderful. While I was still at Ryerson taking Journalism, I wrote agricultural stories for The Guelph Mercury and had a summer job with the Ontario Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Rural Affairs. It’s interesting how you can come find yourself coming full circle.

It’s been an exciting 30 years. I still love what I do. And I’m still learning. Every day.

The best time to prepare for an emergency…

    …is when there isn’t one.

First I noticed the plumber’s truck parked in front of my neighbour’s house. Next, I noticed the Flood Restoration vehicles. “Uh oh,” I thought to myself. “Not good.” Disaster had struck and emergency cleanup work was underway.

It’s been going on for the better part of a week now.  Not only did it create an immediate panic and an instant need to address the situation to prevent it from becoming an even larger disaster, but it has thrown upheaval into their daily lives and havoc for their future plans. Disasters have a way of doing that.

It seems like once a year I have a discussion with clients about their issues and crisis management plans and then it never gets mentioned again. Usually
it’s a topic that gets raised when I first meet with new clients. Everyone acknowledges that their business needs to take an updated look at their plan.  I am constantly amazed at the number of businesses that admit that their plans are skimpy at best. They really don’t know what they would do if they were hit by a product recall, a plant closure, the death of an employee on site, a serious equipment failure, a major weather storm…anything that temporarily cripples a company and prevents it from doing business as usual.

It bears repeating: the time to prepare for a disaster is when there isn’t one.

No one plans to have a disaster, but you do have to plan how you would deal with one. When did you last look at your company’s issues and crisis management plan? When did you last update the full plan and do a company role play of how a crisis would evolve? Do you know how the chain of command would fall out? Is there a binder with all the information and is at home where you would be in the middle of the night if a storm hit? It’s great to have information digitally, but what if there is a power outage? Or what if you can’t access your computer? Could you quickly access all the information you need if your business was hit with a major disaster? Do you know what you would do?

Sometimes it’s not a major crisis that we’re confronted with, it’s more of a simmering issue. You know that something isn’t quite right, but you can’t put your finger on it. Or you have identified the issue, but don’t know how to actually turn it around.

If you need some help in figuring it all out, I have specialized training in dealing with issues and crisis management and have won awards for helping clients through similar situations. Give me a call or send me an email at

And by the way, after seeing all the flood trucks, I made sure my insurance info was still neatly tucked into my watertight safe. And nothing that could be seriously affected by water was sitting on the basement floor. Just in case.

crisis words pic



I’m baaaaccck!!!


I’m baaaack!! Yes, getting back into the groove of
back-to-school, back-to-work routines. Getting back
into my business after taking some time away.
Just getting back on track as so many of us do at
this time of year. Fall has a way of doing that for you.

It’s been a very busy year. I was named IABC/Toronto’s
Boutique Agency of the Year!
  This was the fifth time I’ve
been named an agency of the year and it is always a tremendous
honour to be selected. At the same ceremonies, I was awarded
an IABC/Toronto Ovation Award of Excellence in Issues
Management and Crisis Communication for work I did on
the closing of the Strub’s pickle plant in Brantford. I also won
an international IABC Gold Quill award for the same project
and a Gold Quill in Leadership Communication for work I did
with transportation company Fastfrate.

I was asked to be a member of the Gold Quill Blue Ribbon Panel
of judges this year, one of the five international panels. And I just
finished being a judge for the IABC Canadian awards program,
Silver Leaf. I find the opportunity to see what other communications
professionals are doing across the country and around the world truly
enlightening. (And no, I don’t get to be anywhere close to my own award
submissions! LOL!)

Another highlight of the year was being named Guelph’s 2013
Woman of Distinction in the Business/Entrepreneur category.
It was a wonderful surprise, an unexpected honour, and an evening
filled with celebrating the fabulous women that help to keep the city
of Guelph running in various ways.

I was also selected to be a presenter at the annual IABC World Conference
held in New York City this year. I pulled together a panel of fellow
entrepreneurial experts from around the world: Dr. Amanda Atwell-Hamilton
from Africa, Amy Carroll from Switzerland and Suzanne Salvo from Italy to
discuss starting your own business. Interesting how it was a panel of women….
as I started the session by saying, forget Sex and the City…we are successful
women in the city!!

Planning is already underway for the 2014 IABC World Conference
and it is being held in Toronto next June.  I was recently invited to be
a member of the Program Advisory Committee for the conference,
joining 15 other esteemed communicators from around the world.
We just held our first team meeting and it promises to be an exciting opportunity.

And on top of all that, I became a full-time stepmom as opposed to an
every-other-weekend stepmom, and got married.  In that order!

I know that we all kick off a new year with anticipation; January arrives
and we feel a newness that comes with the start of the next calendar year.
And yet, I have always felt that September is just as often a beginning tooa crispness to the days, a sunny freshness, the start of school and activities…I’m feeling it even more so this year – my first ever getting someone off to school on the first day — and looking forward to the new adventures that are sure to come.

Gold Quill NYC

Getting the Wheels of Social Media Turning

Yesterday I was honoured to be part of a panel on
social media at The Infrastructure Health and Safety
Association Fleet Safety Council’s Annual Educational
Conference in London, ON.

My fellow panellists – Al Goodhall, a commercial truck
driver and 2010 Winner of Driver of the Year for the
Central Chapter, and Lorne Honickman, lawyer and
very familiar face from his days at City-TV as the legal
reporter and now host of CourtTV and Legal Briefs –
and I discussed the whys and how-tos of using social
media. With a very healthy dose of “holy crap, you need
to be careful” thrown in by Mr. Honickman. And rightly so.
As he told the crowd, “the Internet and social media is
like the Wild West” and he wasn’t so sure it was going to
be tamed.

Mr. Honickman specializes in the legal implications of
social media use and his examples of how fast an
off- the-cuff comment can turn into a legal nightmare did
make people stop and think. Our panel moderator,
Lou Smyrlis, Editor of Truck News, did an on the spot
poll at the end of the session and everyone agreed that
the legal implications did worry them and would make
them stop and pay closer attention to how they were
using social media.

One of the points that I made during the presentation
was that you shouldn’t put anything out there, regardless
of how you do it, social media or otherwise, that you
wouldn’t want in the newspaper tomorrow. It is all too
easy with social media to just send a comment “out there.”
Something that you would never dream of saying face-to-face
or even in an email. And with the ability to hide behind
usernames and anonymity, it can be a free-for-all. Although
Mr. Honickman said they can track you down if they need to.
(Just like a sheriff on horseback!)

I found it interesting to hear both my co-panellists speak. Al has
been blogging and tweeting about life on the road as a trucker
and has been asked to participate in numerous industry groups
about safety and other industry issues as a result. I certainly
made a point of getting Lorne’s business card – you just never
know where that next client crisis is going to come from and
given our discussion yesterday and my research leading up
to it, it’s clear that social media will play a bigger and bigger
role both in causing a crisis and how you can deal with it,
proactively and reactively.