Draggin’ the line

Another Tim Horton’s opened recently (so what else is new?). This means I now have three locations in close proximity to my office.

Today, I got off the subway a stop earlier than usual to try out the new one.*

And, glory of glories, this Tim’s wasn’t as crowded as my other regular haunts. I figured that’s because it’s off the beaten PATH and people hadn’t discovered it yet.

It also didn’t have the de rigeur long and winding line-up. There were three cash registers open and you were free to choose whichever one you wanted. Free to choose! That’s become a bit of an anathema in well-behaved Toronto, which likes to adhere to the ‘first come first served’ rule whenever more than two people are waiting.

I did a quick scan and noticed the line farthest from the door only had a single person in it. So I walked over, though there were varying numbers of people in the other lines. I felt as if I was doing something illicit; that I would be spoken to harshly for my impudence and sent to the back of the cue.

But my turn came and went without an incident. I was served and gone before many of the others who’d arrived before I did.

So why didn’t any of those folks move to the smaller line? I think it’s because we’re programmed to resist change. It doesn’t matter matter how small it is, as long as it’s the least bit different, it’s best to keep out of the way; steer clear of the unknown, thank you very much.

The trouble with that attitude is we become so used to the status quo that we can’t (see) smell the coffee for the beans.**

*That’s not the only reason: I, too, think it’s a good idea to make small changes to your regular path. You never know who you might encounter or what fresh perspectives you might gain.

**I’m not sure if that makes sense, but it sounds good and I think you know what I’m getting at.

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I think I’ve got it…

If you’ve been reading my most recent posts – here (1) and here (2) (note: that’s the order you should read them, despite the chronology) – you’ll notice that I’ve been playing around with the pub date and time function in Blogger.

It all goes back to January 12, when I complained that posts saved in draft form and then published, contain the day/time they were begun and not when they appear.

I heard that in WordPress, you can set pre-set pub dates for entries. That’s a great feature.

Not so in Blogger. However, I did find that you can change the date manually, by going into post options and then resetting ‘post date and time’.

In fact, I’m going to do that right now (marking this post Jan 28, noon) so if you’re following the chain, you’ll likely read this first.

It didn’t work

As you can see, I tried to adjust the pub date of the post just before this one. But it didn’t work as planned. It just posted immediately and with the wrong date and time rather than waiting till the pre-set pub time: tomorrow at 11 am.

I’m still looking for the Blogger function that will let me have more control over the timing for my posts. So if anyone has a suggestion, I’d love to hear it.

Postman goes social(ized)

Joel Postman, one of my favourite PR/communications bloggers (and one of the best blog-namers around), has just launched a new venture. Socialized helps businesses ‘adopt social media within the framework of their business and communications strategy’.

It sounds like an innovative and timely idea and I wish him great success.

And it’s the home for his latest blog, which, if it’s anything like his others, is sure to be entertaining, well-written, critical, thought-provoking and funny.

I’m looking forward to following it and urge you check it out.

Blogging on the rails

Literally. I’m on a Via Rail train bound for Montreal and I wanted to see how easy it is to do an in-transit post. (Very easy.)

For most of the ride, the connection has been smooth, if a bit slow. And I’ve been able to download emails, and visit websites and blogs. In the past, I’ve had trouble working on Outlook and I’d get booted off the internet more frequently than not. But that was then (six months ago) and things seem to have improved.

For what it’s worth, I think Via is the ideal way to travel from Toronto to Montreal. The time involved is practically the same, it takes you from downtown to downtown, you get fed, watered and you can read, work, listen to music, talk. It’s a pleasant reminder of simpler times and virtually stress-free.

Truly understanding your market

I didn’t realize Winnipeg had earned the dubious distinction of being the ‘car-theft capital of Canada’. (I did know that during especially cold spells, people left their cars running and other people ‘borrowed’ them to avoid freezing.)

But I guess if you were living there, the car-theft moniker is something you would have been all too familiar with. And, if I was planning any sort of car marketing program in Winnipeg, that little detail would have been easy to suss out.

However, in yesterday’s Globe and Mail (subscription required), there was a story about how Ford of Canada had to apologize to Winnipeg for an SUV print ad they ran with the slogan, ‘Drive it like you stole it’. The company has since pulled the campaign.

I suppose the marketing agency thought the concept was creative and edgy. What they didn’t realize was that in addition to calling out the City’s epithet, the ad ran on the same day as a front-page Winnipeg Free Press story about a youth who was being sentenced for killing a cyclist, while driving a stolen car.

So who’s to blame? Ford? The advertising agency? I’d say they’re both responsible.

This type of situation should be fairly easy to avoid if an organization takes the time to get to know its market, build relationships on a grassroots level and not simply apply a one-size-fits-all approach.

Sounds like PR doesn’t it?

We develop an understanding of a community by thoroughly researching and identifying local issues, idiosyncrasies and trends, and conducting in-depth environmental scans that help spot potential hot buttons.

Perhaps companies should look to their PR counsel to provide this type of strategic intelligence at the outset of a marketing program, so they can avoid backing up into a brick wall.