The IABC Toronto Awards: It was the best of nights

IABC Ovation Awards 2011

Last night, IABC Toronto held their Ovation Awards gala. It was a night to celebrate the best communications work of the past year and the people behind it.

It was one of those nights that I wish could come more often. I was incredibly proud of the people that I work with – and for – as Thornley Fallis participated in an armload of awards. Knowing that we were up for these awards, we brought two tables of the people from our company who worked on the nominated projects and the clients for whom we done the work. And I have to say that the sheer joy with which everyone greeted being recognized by their peers for outstanding work was truly special.

During the course of the evening, I saw smiles bloom on the faces around me and I got to see great practitioners and coworkers like Jennifer Gordon, Jennifer Fox, Sean Howard, Andrea Ong Pietkiewicz, Mike Edgell, and Jo Langham get their chance to walk across the stage and be recognized for the quality of their work.

It was also a great opportunity for us to enjoy an evening in the company of the great clients who allowed us to do this work with them. We consider ourselves fortunate to work for blue-chip clients like RBC, Allstate, and Rogers Communications. Thank you to Amy Woods and her colleagues at Allstate, Keith McArthur and his team at Rogers communications, and Jill Quinn, Michelle Savoie and Kate Yurincich from RBC. You gave us your confidence and we were able to give you our best work.

During the evening, the Thornley Fallis team was part of these award-winning projects:

You can follow the links above to see this work or case studies about it.

All in all, I night to remember, a night to celebrate. Thank you to the IABC Toronto chapter for sponsoring these awards. Thank you to the people I work with in the clients we work for for giving me a chance to be part of something great.


Protect yourself against online fraud during the holidays and every day

The Internet opens a world of possibility to each and everyone one of us – the possibility of finding anything we want, regardless of how obscure, the possibility of forming communities of interest with longtime friends and new acuaintances, the possibility of conducting business and shopping online. All from the comfort of our offices, our homes or anywhere that we carry a smartphone.

iStock_000003413901XSmallBut the Internet also provides a playground for those who would take advantage of our trust.

When I signed onto my online banking site this morning, I noticed a link to a “Special Holiday Alert.” The link led to a page of advice on how to avoid being duped by online scammers. As I read it, I realized that this is good advice not just for the holiday season but year round.

Good advice on staying safe online that I want to share in its entirety.

(And a hat tip to RBC for acting like a true partner with their customers. No hard sell here. Just useful information that will help us all enjoy the benefits of the Internet.)

Avoid Getting an Unwanted Surprise this Holiday Season!

It’s the holiday season, traditionally a time of celebrations, joy and goodwill. Not all holiday traditions are pleasant ones, though. Holidays are also a time when fraudsters increase their efforts to give gifts to themselves – gifts of your credit card information, your social insurance/social security number, your money and your identity.

During this holiday season, consumers need to be mindful about widespread online scams. Ensure your computer protections are up-to-date, avoid shopping on public computers such as those in internet cafes and libraries and follow these easy steps to help protect yourself:

Spoofed Shopping or Auction Websites
Always be extremely wary of anything online that looks “too good to be true”.  It’s not only during the gift giving season that fraudsters will send emails or post websites promising “amazing” discounts on luxury or everyday gifts. By trusting these offers you could end up buying items that you never receive and putting your credit card information into the hands of fraudsters. Avoid those emails and website links. Instead, independently go to any reputable company’s website. If the deals are legitimate, you will find them on that site.

Social Networking Sites’ scams
Always ensure you limit the information that you put on social networking sites and don’t automatically trust all “new friend requests” you receive. Social networking sites give fraudsters a wide audience for their scams. Some of the current trends are bogus email requests from a “friend” who is travelling and needs money wired to them for a “medical emergency” and deceptive “new friend requests” that contain links which, if you click on them, will download malicious software that will steal your personal information. Independently verify any request for “emergency funds”, i.e. don’t use the email address or phone number that you received the request from.

Email Scams

Avoid unsolicited emails that request any action on your part which involves divulging financial or other personal information or your sending money in order to receive money or goods.

Phishing emails: NO legitimate financial institution will send you a website link or phone number in an unsolicited email, asking you to confirm or enter any of your account or login information.
NO legitimate credit card company will send you a “transaction warning” with a website link or phone number, in an unsolicited email, asking you to confirm your account information.
NO legitimate financial institution will request that you send money in order to facilitate an online transfer, i.e. supposedly to bring your transfer amount up to a “minimum transfer limit”.
Even if these look convincing, these are scams. If in doubt, contact your financial institution or your credit card company using contact information that you’ve independently obtained.

Password Stealing Scams: Password theft remains a popular online scam as the financial rewards to cybercriminals can be immense. Do not click on links or attachments from unsolicited emails, to help avoid downloading password stealing software. A safeguard to follow is to always use different passwords for online bank accounts and for anything that contains your credit card number or other personal information.

Charity emails: Many of us take pleasure in giving to charitable organizations at this time of year. Be cautious of emails that appear to be from legitimate charitable organizations, but take you to fraudulent websites that will steal whatever personal or financial information you enter onto the site. Ignore these emails and independently go to the valid website for your charity of choice.

Job-related emails: During the holidays, there is also unfortunately a rise job-related email scams. Be wary of job opportunities that require initial start-up fees. Be on your guard for phony recruiters and employers that request personal or financial information prior to your commencing “employment”. Instead of a job, you may find your personal information, and your money, stolen.

Phony “Delivery Charges to Release Package” emails: Delivery Service companies do not request, via unsolicited email, payment or personal information in return for goods that are in transit or being held for you. Do not respond to these emails or click on any links within them.

Holiday-Themed emails: holiday e-cards and websites with cute holiday-themed downloads are tempting “clicks” during this season. But malicious code may be lurking behind those links. Always be careful what sites you access and what email links you click on.

rbc3dTo help stay safe online during the holiday season, be careful what you access (see “Cyber Criminals”). Use a little caution in your online activity and when in doubt, take the time to verify email requests that you receive, before you act on them.

Have a safe and happy holiday season!

Thanks again RBC. You earn my trust each and every day.

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