AideRSS CEO Carol Leaman to speak at Third Tuesday Toronto

postrank-090129How does a social media startup not just survive, but continue to grow in the current economic conditions? Carol Leaman, the CEO of AideRSS, the company behind PostRank, will tell us how when she appears at Third Tuesday Toronto on February 17.

AideRSS is an interesting company, both for its innovative PostRank approach to measuring engagement with social media and for the fact that it continues an aggressive growth strategy at a time when others are hoping merely to survive. And with its recent second round financing announcement, it appears to have adequate runway to achieve its objectives.

AideRSS recently announced that it is expanding its PostRank service to offer feed analytics for online content publishers. That’s the all-important data that online publishers use to gain insight into how their RSS feeds are being received and used. The stuff that traditional Web Analytics can’t give you.

postrank-feedanalytics-beta-090129In doing this, PostRank is taking on Google, which recently acquired Feedburner, the dominant feed analytics provider. (disclosure: I use Feedburner for ProPR and all of the Thornley Fallis and 76design-produced blogs and RSS feeds.)

Taking on Google. That’s not something for the timid.

AideRSS’  development is being masterminded by CEO Carol Leaman and co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Ilya Grigorik.  Last Autumn, Ilya, along with AideRSS’ VP Development Jim Murphy and Community Manager Melanie Baker, told Third Tuesday about how the company is developing its core PostRank technology and building a community around it.

On February 17, Carol will provide the business perspective on the PostRank story. What does it take for a startup to survive and thrive in this environment? What does it take to nail down a second round of funding when investors are running for the hills? How does a company build a business around social media and feed analytics?

ThirdTuesdayTorontoSo, if you’re interested in gaining some insight into how a company can find an opportunity in social media, develop a technology that meets a real need and and monetize it, this should be an interesting session.

You can register to attend on the Third Tuesday Toronto meetup site.

As always over the past two years, thanks are due to our national sponsor, CNWGroup, whose support keeps Third Tuesday a free community-based event.

More about PostRank and AideRSS:

Marshall Kirkpatrick has a good post on ReadWrite Web about PostRank’s run at Feedburner

Melanie Baker talks about the role of community manager at AideRSS

AideRSS’ Journey from Founders’ Dream to Professional Leadership

Ilya Grigorik explains PostRank

AideRSS’ PostRank Measures Engagement

AideRSS at DemoCampToronto14

Typealizer, have you been stalking me?

I came across Typealyzer on Susan Shaw’s Every day art – Art every day blog.

I`m not sure how Typealyzer works. There`s really no documentation provided. However, when I submit ProPR`s URL, this is the profile info that it returns.


“Since they are not very good at seeing and understanding the needs and other people, they might come across as arrogant, impatient and insensitive to people that need some time to understand what they are talking about.”

What the heck. Has Typealizer been following me around every day?

It’s a reminder that I need to develop my “Spidey sense” to be more aware of the impact I have on the people around me.

Where did I go wrong with this presentation proposal?

istock_000006111221xsmallGive to get back

I try to give back to the communications industry by offering to speak at meetups, barcamps, schools, industry conferences and other gatherings that want me. Usually, I’ll speak about about social media, sharing what I’ve experienced and learned over the past five years.

I’ve never delivered the same presentation two times in a row. Social media changes so rapidly and there are so many new developments and issues that I’m constantly adding new material.

Don’t waste their time. Make it relevant

When I plan a presentation, I always try to approach the presentation from the perspective of the participants. What is their background? What interests them? What do they already know? What could I offer them that would make their hour with me a worthwhile use of their time?

Usually this approach works. I deliver what people are interested in. And they think their time with me was well spent. Occasionally, I miss the mark.

In the past few years, I’ve become active in the Canadian Council of Public Relations Firms (In fact, I was elected Chair of the CCPRF in December.) And one of the topics of ongoing discussion among the PR consulting firm CEOs has been the need to ensure that new employees arrive in our firms with the knowledge and skills necessary for success in the era of social media.

Oops. This one didn’t make the cut.

So, when the Canadian Public Relations Society put out a call for presentation proposals for the CPRS National Conference scheduled for June in Vancouver, I thought that it would make sense to propose a session with a panel of CEOs of some of Canada’s leading PR firms talking about the knowledge and skills they believe that people should be acquiring in order to succeed in our evolving industry. The CEOs of three other firms – Palette PR‘s Martin Waxman, Weber Shandwick‘s Kerry Harris and Argyle‘s Dan Tisch – volunteered to participate in this panel. So, I thought I’d have a rock solid session that would be of interest to the members of the CPRS.

Oops. I was wrong. I received an email telling me that our submission had been declined. Clearly, I’d missed the mark with this proposal.

Fair enough. The conference organizers want to put on the best conference and I’m sure that they had many great presentations to choose from.

Doing better the next time

But, of course, I’d like my presentation proposal to be among the better ones. So, if I missed the mark this time, I’d like to improve for the next time. And I’m hoping that you can help me with that.

I’ve reproduced the presentation proposal below. If you are a public relations practitioner, please take a look at it and tell me how I could tweak it to make it something you’d find useful.

I can’t offer you anything other than my thanks. And my pledge not to waste your time if you find yourself at one of my presentations.

Building your Career with Canada’s PR Consulting Companies
What do the leaders of public relations firms look for in recruiting new employees and deciding who to advance? It’s about more than billings. In this era of social media, what are the skills that PR pros must acquire or develop in order to build a successful PR consulting career?  Four PR firm CEOs, Thornley Fallis’ Joseph Thornley, Palette PR’s Martin Waxman, Argyle’s Dan Tisch and Weber Shandwick’s Kerry Harris, will tell you what they look for and answer all your questions. This panel is co-sponsored by the Council of Public Relations Firms and the CPRS.

Anyone interested in a career in PR consulting, whether PR student, new job entrant, mid career or senior practitioner, will be interested in this session.

The objectives of this workshop are to alert CPRS members to how they can prepare themselves to succeed in today’s fast changing public relations discipline and to give them insight into how PR firms are trying to help them prepare for the future.

Participants will learn:

  • What PR consulting firms look for when recruiting new employees;
  • What skills and expertise PR practitioners should be developing to equip themselves to succeed today and tomorrow;
  • How PR agency heads are trying to help their employees acquire new skills and expertise that they will need to advance in their careers.

PR professionals will gain insight into what PR firm heads feel are the essential skills and expertise of tomorrow and how they can acquire this.

PR consulting companies will benefit by the exchange of best practices and corporate communicators will gain insight into the challenges facing their suppliers and what is being done to meet those challenges.

So, what do you think?

How could I improve this session proposal to make it more interesting and more useful to public relations practitioners and other conference attendees?

Government of Canada's Deputy Chief Technology Officer at the next Third Tuesday Ottawa

Third Tuesday OttawaIn the autumn, the Government of Canada announced a new initiative to integrate social media into its operations: GCPedia, a government-wide Wiki.

GCPedia has been up and running for several months. However, because it lives behind the Government of Canada’s firewall, you and I can’t see it or track how the experiment is proceeding.

The curtain will be drawn back briefly for attendees at the February 2 Third Tuesday Ottawa. Jeff Braybrook, the Government of Canada’s Deputy Chief Technology Officer, will talk about GCPedia and some of the more promising social media for government pilot projects.

I believe that social media holds tremendous potential to bring government closer to citizens. And I’m looking forward to the discussion with Jeff.

If you’re in Ottawa on February 2, you can register online to attend Third Tuesday.

And thanks to our national sponsors, CNW Group, Third Tuesday continues to be a free event.

I hope to see you there.

Edmonton Tweetup, this Thursday

joe-snowmanI’m going to be in Edmonton, Alberta this Thursday. If you’re interested in getting together for a Tweetup on Thursday evening, leave a comment here or send a tweet to @thornley on Twitter.

And, given the weather we’ve had in Ottawa for the past week, I’m actually looking forward to going to Edmonton so that I can warm up!

Google Ad Fail

Thankfully, everyone on the US Airways flight that crash landed in the Hudson River today was safe.

But clearly Google’s ad placement algorithm needs some work. Look in the bottom of this video from an eyewitness. Google’s advertising algorithm thinks this would be a good time to offer me “US Airline Ticket Deals.”


No thank you. Not today.


CT Moore sent me a similar image of inappropriate display advertising on an image of a damaged Qantas aircraft.

More inappropriate advertising

RBC CEO writes to clients: Is this good or bad communication?

When I signed in to my online banking account this morning, a new message was waiting for me in my Inbox. It was from Gord Nixon, the RBC’s President and CEO.

Now, I have to confess, Mr. Nixon doesn’t write to me very often. In fact, I don’t think he’s ever written to me before. So, he and his communications department must have had a very special reason to write to me now. Or at least I’d expect so.

But when I read his message, I wasn’t sure why he was writing. I’ve pasted the full text of the message below.

What’s the real point here?

What do you think the bank is trying to achieve? And why now?

Do they really want to reassure me? Or is this part of a communications strategy related to the current efforts of the Federal Minister of Finance to persuade the banks to loosen their lending policies.

Was enough information provided to make it a good communication? Or does it require more conextual information than the average reader is likely to possess.

Bottom line: Is this a press release masquerading as a letter? And in the era of plain spoken social media, does it make the grade as effective communication with me, the bank’s customer.

Here’s the full text of the message. What do you think of it?

From : RBC Royal Bank
Subject : A Message from Gord Nixon to our Canadian clients
Date : 7 Jan 2009 16:00:00

Dear Valued Client

The world s economic challenges are a concern to every family, business and government. I would like to share with you some facts and observations about recent events in Canada, and how we at RBC can help you create confidence in your financial future.

Here in Canada, we are fortunate to have the soundest banking system in the world, and have avoided many of the problems experienced in other countries. As our economy is not invulnerable to world events, RBC and the other Canadian banks are working closely with the federal government to find ways to improve liquidity in the Canadian financial markets — opportunities that make sense, add value, and don’t introduce more risk to the system.

RBC has not changed our lending policies and practices and we are open for business. We continue to have steady, significant growth in our new mortgage financing, small business and consumer lending across all parts of Canada. These increases are based on sound and consistent lending practices that have been tested and found to work well in good times and bad, for decades.

We believe that our job is to help you create confidence in the future through good advice and access to financing. We know from speaking with millions of Canadians every day that saving money and investing for the future is a priority. RBC has thousands of committed people in our branches and contact centres across Canada with advice on how to best do that based on each individual’s circumstances and goals. We’re addressing that need — for example, today almost half of RBC customers in Canada receive a rebate on their banking transactions or get free banking. You can talk to us at any time to find out about this and other ways to save money and achieve your goals.

RBC is a strong and stable bank, dedicated to helping you achieve your goals throughout all economic cycles. We will continue to manage our bank well to preserve your confidence in us.

Thank you for choosing RBC.

Yours truly,

Gord Nixon
President and CEO

ICE 2009: An interesting conference I won't be at

The folks at Interactive Ontario run an annual conference in Toronto called ICE. This year’s edition is scheduled for March 17 to 19. And it promises to be a good conference.


Don’t they know that the first day of ICE overlaps with the final day of SXSW Interactive in Austin? It’s hard to compete with Chris Anderson and Guy Kawasaki, who are keynoting the final day of SXSW Interactive on March 17.

So, I’ll have to choose SXSW this year. Hopefully next year, the ICE organizers will be able to get a date that’s clear of any conflicts with other social media conferences.

If you are in Toronto March 17 to 19, you may want to register to attend ICE 09. I’m sure you’ll learn a lot and meet some very smart people.