Tag Archives: community

The next iteration

Here I am moderating a panel last December with business owners Jennifer Grimm (Lux Beauty Boutique), Susie Sykes (Catapult Marketing) and Sohail "Zee" Zaidi (Remedy Cafe). Photo: Topher Seguin
Moderating a panel last year with business owners Jennifer Grimm (Lux Beauty Boutique), Susie Sykes (Catapult Marketing) and Sohail “Zee” Zaidi (Remedy Cafe). Photo: Topher Seguin

I’m going to be celebrating this Christmas as a former employee of Capital Ideas and Postmedia. You may have heard, there are just a few changes happening at this company (and most large media organizations). I am not one of the lucky ones getting a retention bonus during the staffing changes. I’m sure I’ll have more thoughts on media and its importance to community soon but, for now, it’s just time to say goodbye.

I’ll be missing regular conversations with Edmonton business owners (and my trips to Calgary to meet with even more Alberta entrepreneurs!). These are people who are truly trying to “make something Edmonton” and building our community in many ways. Edmonton’s got a lot going on, and I’m continually surprised by the ideas and energy of people starting and running their own businesses here (and their willingness to share!). I hope to have helped put a couple of them on your radar these last two years, and I know I’ve learned about a lot of great shops and agencies to support (definitely a perk of working at Capital Ideas). It definitely rekindled that love of local I found while working at the edmontonian a little ways back.

The more things change, the more they stay the same though, and it’s true in the case of Capital Ideas, which will remain in the capable hands of our community managers Elise Campbell, in Edmonton, and Kim Smith, in Calgary. If you’ve been to one of our panel events, you’ve seen them in action and you’ll see them as the continuing faces of Capital Ideas in Alberta, where entrepreneurs get to share what they’ve learned along the way in an effort to make all businesses just a little bit better.

(Shout-outs to everyone who I can think of off the top of my head who has also helped build the Capital Ideas community: Vickie Laliotis, Sam Brooks, Baillie Scheetz, Michelle LePage, Jane Marshall, Kelly Zenkewich and…others I’m sure to be forgetting.)

It's always a packed house at Capital Ideas! photo: Jenn Pierce
It’s always a packed house at Capital Ideas! photo: Jenn Pierce

I joined Capital Ideas when I was looking for a new challenge, and I was also excited for an opportunity to work with a couple of the smartest people I know, Karen Unland and Brittney Le Blanc. They were the originators of Capital Ideas here in Edmonton, launching a startup within Canada’s largest newspaper chain. They also made something Edmonton (which then made something Calgary) and set the stage for the success Capital Ideas has had going on five years.

If you’re in Edmonton, I recommend you join Capital Ideas to share your own advice with other entrepreneurs and attend the panel events. In Calgary, you can join to do the same thing with thousands of business owners in your city.

Now I get to look forward to my next challenges (and finish my Christmas shopping). I’ll share my future plans soon, but for now I’d just like to thank every Capital Ideas member and entrepreneur I’ve crossed paths with, and all the business supporters at organizations like Business LinkAlberta Women Entrepreneurs and ATB Business for reminding me why Edmonton is such a fantastic place to live and Alberta is the best place to build your idea.

Alright, let's be honest. I lost my job in a fight with that robot. photo: Jenn Pierce
Alright, let’s be honest. I lost my job in a fight with that robot. photo: Jenn Pierce


The ABCs of Journalism: Always Build Community

In an effort to not bury the lead, my news today is I am going to be the new Product Strategist at Postmedia Labs, headquartered (locally) at the Edmonton Journal. New job! New responsibilities! New places to eat lunch! (Downtown lunch recommendations welcome.)

robot, knit, tie
Mr. Roboto, the business robot, says successful media businesses are built on community.

Now then, on to what I think that means about community, or: the long read begins.

With media of all kinds being rocked continually by digital innovations, I think two things lead the way in allowing a media source or producer to stand out and remain relevant. The first is original content. Even the Huffington Post could only get so far re-purposing news content, and original content is what will drive Netflix’s continued growth.

On a smaller scale, or at least in more local media situations, the audience being a part of the process, in some way, shape, or form, is a key. That’s why I find this new opportunity at Postmedia Labs so exciting. While the newspaper arm of the company continues to create content, this startup branch is creating community-based projects to try and establish the newspaper of record (here, the Edmonton Journal) as a true hub of local knowledge, information sharing, and connection. It creates two-way conversations instead of old-style media which just pumps out content.

It’s these kinds of projects, these kinds of chances, from media organizations that will set them apart in an increasingly crowded social media stream. I think in a couple of years it will be projects and products like Capital Ideas, Gastropost, local events, and even bold ventures like the Winnipeg Free Press’ News Cafe, that help traditional media creators continue to do what they do (understanding that “what they do” is also changing). By connecting with the audience, by learning from and listening to them, new products are going to launch, new communities will be fostered, and maybe a little money can be made along the way to keep things afloat. And, really, everyone wins a little bit if we’re working together toward success.

The community aspect of Postmedia Labs is what draws me to the job.

For the last seven years I’ve been the Manager of Accessible Media Inc. (AMI) bureaus in Edmonton and Winnipeg. It’s been a tremendous opportunity and I’ve been a part of many great productions in audio and video which made media forms more accessible (such as audio versions of print material), highlighted disability issues, and helped this pioneering media organization work towards its important mission of making all media accessible to Canadians.

A couple of years back, I was also one of the two editors of local community website (and TV show) the edmontonian. Even with 14 years in traditional media this was probably where I learned the most about journalism and audience. My partner, and the main contributors who helped make the edmontonian what it was, taught me news and media is nothing without an audience and really becomes something special if it’s got the same audience top of mind while producing content.

At AMI I learned about Canada’s disability communities, and keeping them front of mind meant AMI’s shows and stories always had a reason to be produced and thus served a community. At the edmontonian, it was all about Edmontonians (obvs.) who were part of the conversation, and part of the editorial team when they wanted to be. Otherwise it would have just been Sally and I yelling at the Internet. Building up a community, and around one, is what made the edmontonian work and what makes AMI so unique in Canada’s broadcast system. Lessons I won’t soon forget.

Personally, this is an exciting opportunity for me because it’s my first step away from media work. While Postmedia is a large media company, the Labs is a startup within the larger corporation and doesn’t create editorial material like the newsrooms do. I also get to join a great team at the Edmonton location of the Postmedia Labs (Karen, Brittney, Vickie, Sam). I can’t wait to get over there to work with them and the many community partners they’re building with.

CJSR Part 2: A free t-shirt for you

As I mentioned earlier this week, I think CJSR is pretty cool and it’s something you should consider donating to.

It’s time to kick things up a little though.

If you donate to CJSR you can get lots of great, free, stuff. Discount cards, music downloads, t-shirts, hoodies, good stuff. Now, you can’t get your hands on clothing until you donate at least $120, but I know the economy can be a tough old cookie. So, tell you what, if you donate between $20 and $119 to CJSR’s FunDrive I will give you the t-shirt I’ve got coming. (You can email me a screengrab of your donation or whatnot.)

That’s right. I will give you the shirt off my back* if you donate to CJSR. I think community radio is a valuable thing for us to support and sometimes you’ve just got to put your t-shirt where your blog is. Or something.

Oh, and if this somehow convinces multiple people to help out a great artistic hub of Edmonton, I shall draw names out of a hat to see which generous donor gets the t-shirt. Thanks, everybody!

CJSR t-shirt

*It’s never going to be worn by me, so you don’t even have to worry about washing it, you can just go ahead and put it right on. This just keeps getting better for you.

Community radio. Community music. Community arts. Community.

I donated to CJSR, Edmonton’s community (and campus) radio station, this morning. It’s something you should consider if you’re a fan of Edmonton music, Alberta music, eclectic and independent music, international music, alternative and probing news, and supporting volunteers.

I did it because I love Monday mornings with “Makin’ Whoopee“. Chad and Colin define what community radio is all about. They volunteer their time, they play music you won’t hear on any other radio station, including lots of local bands and artists, they support the other radio station volunteers, they keep us updated on the Asia Ice Hockey League, and they embrace the chance to tout the virtues of other volunteers, artists, and community-minded folks and efforts.

Even if I couldn’t listen to anything else on the station (88.5 on your Edmonton FM dial, CJSR.com for all other occasions) I would give these guys money. Of course, there are plenty of other programs on CJSR I like listening to.

All five days of the work week start with great shows, the weekend has plenty of international flavour, with members of so many of Edmonton’s vibrant communities (from the very newest immigrant nations to our city, to those who have made Edmonton home for some time) offering music from their home nations, their niche, and news and information on what’s happening locally with people sharing a culture. And if you’ve got an idea for a radio show, start volunteering today.

Plus, CJSR is just one of those hubs you find in any city.

The announcers support local artists, the artists reciprocate, and live shows happen all over Edmonton at friendly venues perpetuating the love. If you think about people and groups around Edmonton who are involved with art, music, and charity and community efforts you are not going to be very many steps removed from the little radio station in the basement of the U of A’s Students Union Building.CJSR FunDrive banner, with a radio for an ear because it's listener supported

Oh, and if all that didn’t get you thinking about donating, there’s also sweet, sweet swag.