We're looking for freelance PHP Web Developers to work with the 76design team

is looking for a few great freelance developers to round out our skill set and provide us with the capacity to deliver all of our projects during the busy autumn and winter business cycle.

If you’re interested, you’ll possess a strong combination of the following expertise and experience:

Strategic and Analytic Thinking

• Understanding of fundamentals of new marketing and communications principles
• A solid understanding of information architecture practices
• Gathering, reviewing and validating project requirements

Skills and Assets
• Demonstrated experience with the following: Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP5
• Experience with a modern MVC web framework like Zend Framework, Java Spring, etc.
• Background in web API programming
• Polylingual programming beyond PHP considered an asset (Java, .Net, Ruby, etc)
• Comfortable with use and function of a variety of modern CMS: WordPress, Drupal;
• Experience customizing WordPress development, themes, and plugins
• Direct experience with social media tools and platforms, such as Facebook, Google+, Twitter, etc.
• Work with tiered deployment environments
• Experience with a version control system like SVN
• Experience with automated deployment using tools like Phing, Ant considered an asset
• Use of OO and design patterns
• Working knowledge of web standards, SEO and accessibility
• Front end development experience working with XHTML, HTML5, CSS3, Javascript, Ajax

Bonus Points
• Unix system maintenance, shell scripting
• Apache web server configuration, virtual host management
• Experience with Microsoft SilverStripe CMS
• Experience with modern ORM such as Doctrine
• Knowledge of Apache Software Foundation Projects: Lucene / Mahout
• University degree in computer science or software engineering

Interested in working with us? If so, click over to the 76design Careers page and apply on the link provided on that page.

Thornley Fallis is partnering with Gini Dietrich and Arment Dietrich

Today is a big day for me and the team at Thornley Fallis. We announced a partnership with Gini Dietrich and her team at Arment Dietrich.

I’ve known and collaborated with Gini Dietrich for over two years. Every week, we’ve come together to co-host the Inside PR podcast with Martin Waxman (Martin joined Thornley Fallis in 2011). We’ve attended conferences together. Developed ideas together. Shared insight into the direction and opportunities for each of our businesses. We’ve talked extensively about the changes in the communications business brought about by the social media revolution. And we’ve discovered that we share a similar vision for the future of communications: the continuing revolution of the relationship between consumers and companies, citizens and governments, you and me.

During that time, we’ve transformed our companies from traditional communications consulting organizations to focus on the expertise that is most important in the connected era, the time when we all have voices, can find and share with our communities of interest, and in which we become both the media and the trusted advisors to one another.

Gini has positioned Arment Dietrich as a thought leader in social and digital media. She has built an industry leading platform for these views in Spin Sucks, her widely-read blog. And she adding to that Spin Sucks Pro (in Beta), a resource for senior business executives who want to understand and participate in the new media. In the process, Gini has become an acknowledged expert in content marketing. She’s used it to build her own company and she uses that same expertise for her clients. She also found the time to capture her ideas in Marketing in the Round, the just-published book she co-authored with Geoff Livingston.

Thornley Fallis also has come a long way since its founding in 1995 as a traditional corporate PR company. Today, we are focused on the expertise necessary to engage with the public through traditional and digital media. We offer design to deliver remarkable experiences, produce video to create the ultimate social objects, build audiences and communities through content marketing, earn media through public relations, and build relationships and trust through social media. But these tactics must work together. So we develop strategies to marshall them into a coherent whole and then constantly measure and refine.

Given all this, it shouldn’t be a surprise that we’ve decided to bring our firms together so that we can offer our collective expertise to our clients.

That’s a big move. And it promises a much brighter future for our teams. New combinations of expertise. New clients. New opportunities. I’ll continue to write about my journey and experiences on this blog and we’ll also share our collective insight on the Thornley Fallis Blog and Spin Sucks. I hope you’ll join us for the journey.


We're recruiting a new Senior Web Developer

We’ve just had one of the best summers we’ve had in years, adding new clients every month through the summer. That’s not bragging. It’s just the background that explains why I’m writing this post. 76design is busy, busy, busy. And we are looking for a Senior Web Developer to join our team.

Here’s the job description from the 76design careers page.


76design is looking for an experienced Web Developer to join our Team.

The winning candidate should be prepared to work in collaboration with other developers, graphic designers, marketers and public relations experts towards the development and implementation of industry leading solutions.


  • Maintain visibility and respect in the online community
  • Contribute to the development of the Studio’s culture and quality standards


  • Understanding of fundamentals of new marketing and communications principles
  • A solid understanding of informational architecture practices
  • Gathering, reviewing and validating project requirements


  • Demonstrated experience with the following: Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP5
  • Experience with a modern MVC web framework like Zend Framework, Java Spring, etc.
  • Background in web API programming; do you prefer api.twitter to twitter.com? code.google to google.com?
  • Polylingual programming beyond PHP considered an asset (Java, .Net, Ruby, etc)
  • Comfortable with use and function of a variety of modern CMS: WordPress, Drupal;
  • Direct experience with social media tools and platforms, such as WordPress, Google+, Twitter, etc.
  • Work with tiered deployment environments.
  • Experience with a version control system like SVN.
  • Experience with automated deployment using tools like Phing, Ant considered an asset.
  • University degree in computer science or software engineering
  • Use of OO and design patterns
  • Working knowledge of web standards, SEO and accessibility
  • Front end development experience working with XHTML, CSS, Javascript, Ajax
  • Agency experience an asset
  • A relentless and visible passion for and participation social and community engagement
  • Experience and confidence presenting to clients


  • Unix system maintenance, shell scripting
  • Apache web server configuration, virtual host management


  • Experience with Microsoft SilverStripe CMS
  • Experience with modern ORM such as Doctrine
  • Knowledge of Apache Software Foundation Projects: Lucene / Mahout


Go by foot, by bike, by skates, by bus or by car. Our centrally-located office spaces in downtown Toronto and Ottawa are easy to get to.


You’ll never wonder how long that pot of coffee has been sitting there. Our Starbucks coffee machine grinds fresh beans for every cup, and it makes a tasty cup of cocoa.


At TF & 76, TGIF starts first thing in the morning with breakfast treats, the team then caps off the week by kicking back with a few drinks in office. Frequently, this spills over into one of the many nearby watering holes.


We’re an agency of talented, passionate, creative individuals. We want to create amazing work and solve our client’s problems in the coolest ways possible. This means we’re looking for people who are also talented, creative and passionate about the things they do. We’re looking for people who inspire and make us better.

Is this you?

If so, please contact Laura [at] 76design.ca to let her know that you’re interested in joining us.



Thornley Fallis is looking for a Leader for our Toronto office

The recession is over. Hurrah. And our business is growing. Hurrah again.

Recessions are hard on everybody. But they can be especially tough on the leaders who have to make the decisions that affect others. It can be like carrying the burden of not only your own anxieties, but the anxieties of everyone you work with. Sometimes, you can just be so ground down by the stress and burden of carrying a team through the bad times that you feel that the only way you can get your energy back is with a complete change of scene.

That’s happened to us. The General Manager of our Toronto office was recruited away from us. We’re sorry to see her go. Not only was she very good at her job, but she was one of the nicest people you could ever want to work with and a friend. We’ll miss her.

Now we have an opening on our management team. And we need to move quickly to fill it.

We’re looking for a General Manager for our Toronto office.

Do you know this person? Or might it be you?

What does our general manager do?

Our General Manager will:

Lead a talented team of consultants whose expertise spans social media, traditional public relations, Web design and development, and advertising. You’ll ensure that they have what they need on a day by day basis to succeed and you’ll ensure that we’re delivering real results for our clients and pursuing opportunities to grow our business.

Set an example of excellence in your communications skills and personal conduct. Be a person who inspires by example.

Mentor and guide the team members. This includes developing an annual career plan with each employee and conducting progress reviews. We want our employees to grow with us. We count on our General Manager to make sure that everyone is thinking about what they want out of their professional careers and that they are working toward attaining that.

Work with our CFO to establish business targets and ensure that we achieve them. A business has to be successful in order to provide a bright future for its employees.

What kind of person are we looking for?

You have already achieved success in your career as a communicator. You have demonstrated your leadership skills through responsibility for a team and a business unit.

You are a successful consultant, having already demonstrated that you understand client needs and that you can organize a team to meet those needs and deliver creative solutions that deliver real results.

You have established relationships with senior executives who lead the communications and marketing functions in their companies. And those people want to work with you again. In fact, you’re confident that when they hear you’re working with Thornley Fallis, they’ll want to talk with you about you and your new team can help them.

You inspire loyalty. The people who work with you love working with you. They know that you care about them and that you’ll put the needs of the team ahead of your own needs.

Are you Thornley Fallis’ next Toronto General Manager?

Does it sound like a job you could excel at and that you’d be passionate about? If so, connect with me on LinkedIn or DM me on Twitter.

A progress marker on the road from the old to the new

Over the past five years, I’ve been working to move Thornley Fallis and 76design from a dying traditional PR business model to a new business model more in tune with the disintermediated world of individual voices and communities of interest. A world in which anyone with something to express can have a voice and others who share their interests can find them and develop relationships with them that transcend the restrictions of geography. In short, a world of social software, social media, communities of interest and relationship building.

squareWhat does our new business look like? Well, its draws on a broader range of skills than have traditionally been associated with PR. Yes, we start with our established understanding of communication and design as an enabler. But we add to this an understanding of sociology, group dynamics and organizational design. An understanding of search engines and always-on mobile connections. And an ability to design Web applications to enable people to do the things we are imagining.

It’s one thing to see these new opportunities. But it’s another thing to instill excitement about them in others. And it’s even tougher to get people who are successful in doing things the way they always have done them to open their minds to the likelihood that they may not be able to sustain this over the long term.

So, I was delighted to read how LeeEllen Carroll, a member of our Ottawa team with a background in traditional journalism, described Thornley Fallis and 76design in a posting on the shift+control blog.

[Thornley Fallis and 76design] help clients reach, connect with, and build and sustain positive relationships with their communities through the integrated use of on-line and off-line tactics.

We design the creative, build the innovative, and manage the complicated.

Every member of our firm believes in the power of digital engagement. Everything we do is designed to foster that. We engender mutual respect and trust between our clients and their respective stakeholders and audiences. Our clients are a mix of high-profile corporate brands, bleeding-edge startups, government and associations. For these clients, we go beyond. We don’t leave it at working for and representing them; we believe in them, we brag about them.

Our shop is dynamic, open-minded, eclectic and centrally located. Our style is fresh, friendly, professional and invigorating.

The common thread in all of our efforts is a big idea of what the conversation economy can do for our clients to solve real business challenges and create new business opportunities.

I didn’t write this. I didn’t even know about it until I read it on the blog.

So why am I delighted to read this description? Because LeeEllen has described the new kind of company that will thrive in the era of social media. In her own words. Without any prompting from me.

An organization and its culture cannot be changed by fiat. They can only be changed by common agreement among the people who populate it. To succeed, the people who work at our company must come to share our new vision and see themselves being successful through it.

LeeEllen’s description of the company tells me that the people I work with understand the changes in our business and are embracing them. We are well on our way in the transition from the old model to the new. We’re making progress. And that feels good.

From Founders' Dream to Professional Leadership: AideRSS' Startup Journey

Since launching in July 2007, AideRSS has been well reviewed, attracted venture capital and evolved from founders’ dream into a professionally managed company. During my recent visit to the offices of AideRSS, both Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer Ilya Grigorik and recently-appointed CEO Carol Leaman sat down to talk with me about the company’s journey from an idea to a venture-funded enterprise.

As I reviewed the recordings of these interviews, I was struck by how different Ilya and Carol are. Ilya is the quintessential techno-enthusiast. His enthusiasm for the original idea and the pursuit of the next innovation is almost palpable. Carol is the rationalist. Polished. Bottom line oriented.

Two very different people. Yet, they complement one another. Hmmm. A smart pairing brought about by smart money?

Ilya GrigorikIlya:

“It all started as a personal project when I started blogging. I wanted to create an analytics engine for myself, defining my own metrics for how people interact with my content, how has one post performed better than another. … One evening it occurred to me that if I’m doing this to track my own performance, why can’t I apply the same idea to outside posts?”

“It’s an amazing experience to wake up in the morning and realizing that you started with something that was just an idea and something you worked on on weekends, and all of a sudden you have a company working around it.”

“We went from an idea to an actual Website launched in July ’07. It was an amazing launch. We received lots of attention from the online community. Everybody loved the idea. It was something that everybody needed. We had articles written in Japanese, Korean, Arabic, English. It was really an amazing experience to see all the feedback. Following up on that, we went out and raised some money to take the idea to the next level.”

Carol LeamanCarol:

“What’s behind the system is highly complex, but people won’t use it unless it’s extremely simple” to use.

AideRSS received its first round of financing in December, only five months after launch and plans to raise a second round “in a few months.”

What’s the business model? AideRSS seems to be working toward a “freemium service with a variety of potential services.” AideRSS is still in the early stages of exploring this, but they “hope to launch by the end of the calendar year.”

More about AideRSS

Ilya Grigorik explains PostRank

AideRSS’ PostRank Measures Engagement

AideRSS at DemoCampToronto14

You have to trust people

It should be apparent from the series of posts about Michael McDerment ’s and Saul Colt ’s session at Third Tuesday that Freshbooks is a very social media savvy organization.

Not only does CEO Michael McDerment blog, but at least five other employees also blog. And there will likely be more.

So the obvious question: What will you do if one of your employees messes up and gives out a company secret or does something to hurt the company? Do you try to curb your employees’ blogging?

Michael McDermont: “It comes back to hiring. You’ve got to find people with shared values. And at the end of the day you have to trust people. … That’s the best you can do.”

It strikes me that this is a problem for large organizations which, by their nature, lose the ability to ensure fit between employees and company culture. But having acknowledged that, for organizations that still are of a size where this is practical, McDerment focuses on exactly the right place – management’s hiring decisions and attitudes.

Other clips with Freshbooks’ Michael McDerment and Saul Colt :

A Fresh(books) approach to social media by Dave Fleet

Building a Winning Team

Your next great business idea may be staring you in the face

Freshbooks: Don’t talk about the product. Talk about what it means to people

Freshbook Execs listen and respond to customers

Online media deliver results. But traditional media still add legitimacy

There’s no shortcut past setting realistic expectations

Building a winning team

Companies, even the ones driven by the most powerful ideas, are not the work of one person alone. Sooner or later, every entrepreneur must come to grips with the need to build a team that can build a dream into a successful reality.

Freshbooks has been on a recruiting tear lately, bringing in talent like Saul Colt , who was behind the launch of ZipCars in Canada, and Mitch Solway , the former VP of Marketing at Lavalife .

In this video clip recorded at Third Tuesday Toronto , Freshbooks founder Michael McDerment talks about the effort that should go into recruiting and hiring and the rewards from doing it right.

“We hire for fit. … You’re building a team. You want an extension of yourself and somebody you can trust has got your back. We spend an inordinate amount of time hiring. That makes some of the other things a lot easier. If you find people with shared values, who are smart people and get things done, then I don’t have to worry about it. … I’m constantly trying to put myself out of a job. My goal is to have nothing to do. Everyone else is doing stuff. Me, doing nothing. … It comes down to hiring. And if you can find people with the right fit and shared values, they will make financial decisions and others that make sense.”

Interested in more about Freshbooks’ appearance at Third Tuesday Toronto?

Dave Fleet: A Fresh(books) approach to social media

Your next great business idea may be staring you in the face

Freshbooks: Don’t talk about the product. Talk about what it means to people

Freshbook Execs listen and respond to customers

Freshbooks execs listen and respond to customers

What’s one of the secrets to success for a startup company fine tuning its offering to respond to customer needs? At Third Tuesday Toronto , Michael McDerment and Saul Colt of Freshbooks said that the top executives of the company regularly take support calls from customers.

This was “born out of necessity,” says Freshbooks founder McDerment. “I read the first three and a half years of every support request that came through. We were a pretty small company at that time.” Now that the company is growing, new support systems are being put in place. But, McDerment insists that the involvement of senior executives in support calls “is conscious and it is something we’re going to hold on to. … Just to ground you, it’s huge. Because otherwise, you start thinking, ‘we don’t need to change the products. We just need to sell more.’ …“ I’m doing more support now than I ever used to because I’m afraid of losing that touch.”

Here’s the clip. (Yes, the lighting is bad. But the content of what Michael and Saul were saying was just so strong, I really wanted to share it. We’ll get better lighting for future Third Tuesday events.)

But execs aren’t expected to be up to speed on technical issues, are they? How does Freshbooks ensure that their execs have the technical knowledge to respond to the support calls they take? Says McDerment, “For the most part, tech support for us is answering simple questions and holding people’s hands. … We build teams … a marketing person, a development person, a management person all doing support on the same day. So they get to spend time together, communicate, collaborate, get things done, get all the answers within a team.”

Now, you may be sceptical about whether the company actually lives this every day. Well, spontaneous validation was provided by Connie Crosby , a Freshbooks client, who spoke up to offer her story about how Saul Colt had responded to her support request late on a weekend night.


I’ll post more Freshbooks at Third Tuesday Toronto clips over the next week.

Interview with Pat Gossage, Chairman of Media Profile

Pat Gossage, Chairman of Media ProfilePat Gossage, the founder and now Chairman of Media Profile, talked to me recently for the series of video interviews with heads of Canadian PR firms that I’m conducting for the Canadian Council of Public Relations Firms.

Some of the highlights of the interview:

What makes Media Profile a special place?

“I wanted a firm I enjoyed coming to work at every day. And I wanted a firm that had a pleasant, accepting and respectful atmosphere amongst its workers. A lot of teamwork. Bringing people up from within rather than parachuting from above. I was much more interested in creating a culture than creating a big, successful firm. The culture is here and the success followed.”

On client relations:

“The other thing we stress is being incredibly attentive to clients. We’re good listeners. Somebody once told me that when you are listening to the client your are winning. That’s been a theory we’ve put into practice and it’s been an important aspect of us winning and keeping clients.”

Advice to young people considering a career in public relations:

“The atmosphere in an office is very important. … It’s whether you want to come to work at a firm and whether the senior people are accessible, whether there’s a mentoring program, all the things that will allow you to build on your skills over time. And stay with one firm, which is very important to all of us in public relations, so that we have continuity with our people. That’s what the client respects. The client doesn’t want to be dealing with different people every couple of years.”

You can view the video of the complete interview with Pat Gossage on the CCPRF Weblog.