Dogs at Red River College!


As some of you know, I've been working on a project that's aimed at starting a conversation about student mental health at Red River College. The project is called Mind It! and if you're interested in learning more about it you can visit

One of the things I'm doing with this initiative is getting students to participate in activities that promote mental health. For example, creative activities are a great way to de-stress and so Mind It! put on two art making events last month that got more than 100 students painting.

On Wednesday, Mind It! brought dogs to the college to give students a bit of a mood boost. The dogs are certified therapy dogs through St. John Ambulance's dog therapy program and are usually busy visiting seniors homes and hospitals.

It looks to me like the students enjoyed their company, and the dogs didn't seem to mind all the attention :)

What do you think?

Talking mental health on Tune Up


Back in August I had the opportunity to talk about the mental health initiative I started this year, Mind It on Alex Wenger's radio podcast show, Tune Up.

After months of suspense, I'm so excited that my episode finally aired last night!

It was my first time speaking publicly about my personal battle with a mental health issue and while I was nervous, I think the interview went well. As I listen back to what we talked about that day, one thing in particular stands out to me — just how far I've come in the last few years.

If you would like to listen to the interview, visit and click on episode #2. The entire episode focuses on mental health and my interview takes place in the second half-hour.

A Drunken Stupor


Most PR professionals would agree that the Rob Ford crack scandal is a crisis for Ford's communications team and Toronto City Council. What I find most interesting about the whole situation, however, is not the poor way in which Ford handled the media, but how his audiences are reacting to his statements and behaviour.

So how are Canadians handling the news that the man running Toronto smoked crack while in office?

They've taken to social media of course.


#RobFord has been trending for months — since the Toronto Star first broke this story. Then, early this week Ford admitted to the world that he did in fact use crack cocaine during a "drunken stupor". You can guess what started trending next. Twitter lit up and #drunkenstupor became an excuse for everything from failing to hand in homework to watching too many cat videos.


Since the story broke, countless Facebook pages, groups and communities in support of Rob Ford resigning from his position as Mayor of Toronto have popped up. Facebook users are sharing everything Rob Ford — from hard news articles to parody videos and blog posts.


Who would have thought the Internet's largest beauty and fashion photo-sharing site would be used to persuade people to join the campaign calling for Ford to step aside? Pinterest boards with titles like "The Ford Files"are populated with political comics, commentary and unflattering photos of the Mayor and shared with Pinterest users around the world.

What Now?

If we didn't already know how much the media landscape has changed in recent years, this case has made it quite clear. Content may still be king, but anyone can be the creator. From cell phone videos to blog posts, anyone with a cell phone and access to a computer can bring down a politician, celebrity, or any person in a position of authority — if given the opportunity.

According to a recent Globe and Mail article, the Internet has "introduced a new culture, a culture where anyone can publish anything about anybody, with the Internet acting as a giant, unfiltered, viral poster." 

Yep, that sounds about right.

Rob Ford = 0; Social Media= 1,000,000,000+

Letting Go of Perfectionism


I know many people who are, like myself, perfectionists. We can be hard on ourselves, even unforgiving. If we don't do well on an assignment or project at work, we just can't let it go. The sinking feeling that accompanies "failure" takes a toll, dampening our mood and leaving us feeling not good enough.

Something I've come to realize over the last few weeks, however, is that perfectionism in itself is not a bad thing. It's when we lose sight of our goals that creates a problem.

My goal in studying Creative Communications is to learn all that I can from my instructors and peers so I can start my professional career in six months with a solid understanding of communications and what is expected of me in the industry. This is not the same as getting an "A" on every assignment. Admitting I've made a few mistakes and focusing on how I can improve my work on the other hand, is aligned with my underlying goals.

It feels good to remind myself of what I'm actually striving for and to recognize that it's OK to be a perfectionist about some things like doing my best at soaking up all that I can. 

At the end of the day, if I'm putting in my best effort to learn and improve, then I'm steadily working toward my goal. And that's all I can ask of myself.

Make Art!


Just some of the paintings participants made at Mind It - Make Art!
Painting reminds me of when I was a little kid doing arts and crafts with my mom and little sister at the kitchen table on the weekend. I never worried about what the finished product looked like, or whether it was perfect. I had no real plan in mind and my mom certainly wasn't handing out a mark for the best rendition of the tree outside or the family cat. The three of us were just spending time together and having fun.

This was the idea behind the art event I put on at Red River College this week with the help of the Canadian Mental Health Association, Winnipeg region (CMHA Winnipeg) and my wonderful volunteers who I can't thank enough. In the middle of a busy hallway at the college, we set up five tables with canvases, paint and a paintbrushes and invited students and staff to come over and paint whatever their heart desired. Art therapy programs have been shown to help boost mood and relieve stress. Similarly, the goal of this event was to help people relax and de-stress by getting them involved with making art.

By the end of the two hour event, over 60 canvases were transformed from blank to beautiful and many more people had stopped to see what all the excitement was about. CTV Winnipeg came by to capture the action for the evening news and Stephanie Forsyth, president of Red River College took time out of her busy schedule to show her support.

I couldn't be happier with the success of Mind It - Make Art! With careful planning and hard work an idea that took root several months ago unfolded almost exactly how I had envisioned it.

Thank you to everyone who helped me along the way. From CMHA Winnipeg's generous donations of time and supplies to the volunteers who rocked Mind It T-shirts and video/photographer, Robin Hamilton — you are all amazing!

CTV Winnipeg showed up to capture footage for the evening news.
Lauren MacLean, vice-president external of the RRCSA shows off her art!

Why joining a professional organization is good for your career


As this year's student liaison for the International Association of Business Communicators, Manitoba Chapter (IABC Manitoba), I act as the link between Creative Communications students and IABC Manitoba.

I'm fortunate to have had the chance to take on this role as I'm learning so much about managing a portfolio and setting strategic goals and objectives. I would encourage first-year students to apply for the student liaison position next year as it's a worthwhile experience!

Last week I had the opportunity to speak to first-year CreComm students and the second-year PR majors about the benefits of joining IABC Manitoba, and I'd like to provide an overview of some of those benefits for anyone who missed that class or needs further clarification. 

So, what's in it for you?

1. Connections.

Most people don't know that 80 per cent of today's jobs are landed through networking. So while you may have 500+ Facebook friends from high school and college or university, that may not necessarily help you in the world of communications where there are many new people to meet and remember.

IABC Manitoba will be hosting at least five events this year and as a member, you will pay much less to get into these events, and sometimes you may even get in for free. There's also opportunities to volunteer on the Board next year once you have an idea of what the association is all about.

2. Valuable information.

There is a members only section of the IABC website with online resources such as articles on best practices, case studies, communication templates and access to Communication World, IABC's member magazine.

3. Job postings.

We're all putting so much time and effort into studying communications so we can eventually work in the field, so why not set ourselves up for job-hunting success?

Whether you're graduating this spring and will be looking for full-time work, or you'll be heading back to finish college in the fall and need a summer job, joining IABC can help you find a job or internship in communications. Many of the job postings that appear on the members-only section of the IABC website are only posted there, or are posted there for some time before they go up anywhere else.

4. Membership discount.

Yes, most of us are broke students, but we can also usually manage to find an extra $20 here and there for a drink and a bite at the King's Head. I'm not saying to give that up, I'm saying we've all probably spent $52. 50 — the annual cost of an IABC student membership — on some less important things than furthering our careers.

Check out IABC Manitoba's website at and if you have any questions about IABC or anything else CreComm-related, get in touch with me by email at or on Twitter @Meginthepeg.

Confessions of a Depressed Comic


I've given a number of presentations so far this year to my classmates in my public relations and oral presentation classes and it's got me interested in what makes a speech engaging for an audience.

Although I've been watching TED and TEDx Talks for a couple years now, I just started watching talks by younger speakers. I used to only watch videos with several hundred thousand views because I knew they would be good. But as I'm spending more time researching different speeches and styles of presentations, I'm discovering some really inspiring talks by people as young as seventeen.

Most of these young people are speaking about obstacles they've overcome, including the young man in this video, Kevin Breel. Kevin is a comic and also has depression, something he hid from friends and family for a long time. It's talks like these that I am discovering can sometimes be the most helpful in showing us what makes a great talk, and what makes a talk less effective.

I've learned it's not the "perfect" presentation that will win over an audience. It's a speech that is personal, relatable and true. People want to find things in common with other people, and when it's your turn in the spotlight, the best way to make your audience feel at ease is to show them they have something in common with you.

Check out Kevin's speech about his struggles with depression. It's not perfect, but it's engaging because he describes his experience in real human terms, doesn't shy away from difficult subject matter and provides real details that lets the audience know he's telling the truth, and from the heart.

Mind It - Make Art!


As some of you know, I recently launched a mental health awareness campaign at Red River College called Mind It.

Mind It will be holding several fun and interactive events at two Red River College campuses throughout the 2013/14 academic year to raise mental health awareness among students and combat stigma. All of these events are FUN and FREE for everyone!

The first two events are art making events. We'll be all set up with a ton of art supplies like paint, markers and glitter in the Library Hallway at the Notre Dame Campus and in the Atrium at the Roblin Centre on two different days. You definitely don't have to be artistic to participate — it's all about just having fun and finding a way to de-stress for a few minutes.

We'll be at the Notre Dame Campus on October 16 and The Roblin Centre on October 23 from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. 

Go ahead, put "RELAX" in your calendar on those days right now!

See you there :)

Event Planning Dos and Don'ts


Event planning is an area of public relations I've been reading a lot about lately. Within the next six months I'll be planning six events — five are related to the Independent Professional Project I am completing in school, and one is a networking event for the International Association of Business Communicators, Manitoba Chapter (IABC Manitoba).

In the early stages of planning the first of these events, I looked to my experience at the handful of awesome events I've attended over the years as well as the many poor ones for direction as to what to do, and what not to do. But event planning is not so simple, and there is much more going on behind the scenes than you might think.

Every single event is different — even when a business throws the same staff Christmas party year after year, an event planner can never expect the party to go exactly the way it did the year before. There will probably be new employees to invite and there may be a smaller budget to work with, or a new venue or catering company to consider. Basically, putting on any event involves at least a little bit of risk. Come event day, there will be some things that will most certainly not fall entirely within an event planner's control.

With that said, being highly organized and well-prepared, is imperative to the success of any event. Based on my event planning experience so far, I've also come up with some less obvious things event planners should make sure to cross off their lists, and a few things to avoid.


1. Research what the competition is doing.
Look into what similar organizations/businesses have done and whether or not it worked for them. This could potentially save you time, money and embarrassment leading up to, and on event day.

2. Align yourself with great people and partners.
All the best films, commercials, books, music and advertising campaigns are the result of a team effort on some scale. The same goes for events. Don't try and do everything yourself because your event will suffer. Share the work load with people with different skills-sets than yourself and who you know you can trust. Try to partner with other reputable organizations with similar mandates — this can boost your credibility and increase your resources.

3. Get online.
Being active on social media is a given, but so is having a website. Too many businesses and organizations rely solely on social media to promote events, but people need another online space where they can access more detailed information about you and the event.

4.  Remind yourself of the purpose of the event — often.
It's easy to lose sight of your objectives when taking care of the logistics of any event. Don't lose sight of why you're actually putting on the event in the first place. Of course you want people to come and have a good time, but that's probably not your end goal, although it can start to feel that way during the planning stages.

5. Take risks.
In some ways, event planning is a volatile business to get into. There are so many events vying for people's attention on any given day that the only way to grab people's attention is to raise the bar of what is expected. Put on an event that is different then what your target audience has seen in the past. Think of something that hasn't taken place at your school, workplace or community centre before. By putting yourself and your big ideas out there, you could be rewarded in big ways.


1. Limit yourself before you start.
Before you decide on any one idea for your event, brainstorm as many ideas as you can and don't eliminate any right off the bat. Come back to the list in a few days. Did you think of anything else? Focus on expanding, not cutting your list of great ideas during the initial stages of event planning.

2. Give away free stuff just to give away free stuff.
Free promotional items at events are a good idea if they have a purpose. Don't spend a bunch of money on junk that your target audience will look at once and then toss. People should want to attend your event for reasons other than free magnets and donuts.

3. Take no for an answer.
You're likely going to have to try more than once to get the right people on the phone or to land a full sponsorship. Keep trying.

4. Spam people.
Invite friends and family to LIKE your Facebook Page once. Remind people about your event via email no more than twice. If they aren't responding they way you wanted them to, either you don't know your target audience very well, you haven't created something they value, or both.

5. Stress the very small stuff.
At the end of the day, if you forget a stack of brochures or a door prize, the show must and will go on. If you've done your best to prepare in every other way, everyone will be having so much fun they won't notice.

Dove Real Beauty Sketches: Going Viral


Love it or hate it, no one can deny the success of nearly 60 million YouTube views.

Debuting on April 14, 2013, the Dove Real Beauty Sketches web commercial — a part of Dove's ongoing "Campaign for Real Beauty" — went viral in less than three days.

From a public relations perspective, the ad is brilliant. It generated extensive national and international media coverage for Dove, including 121 print features and 484 major broadcast news and lifestyle segments, and became the most watched video advertisement OF ALL TIME.

So what's so special about it?

Simple — it evokes emotion in the viewer.

Capitalizing on the common human truth that people are their own worst critics, the video shows a criminal sketch artist drawing women first as they describe themselves, and second as other people describe them. The artist then reveals the two different sketches to each woman. The differences between the two sketches are obvious and point to how women tend to describe themselves as less beautiful than they really are. 

The video is clever, believable and beautifully shot. But does everyone buy into Dove's messaging?

Of course not. People are always going to find the bad in even the best campaigns, including this one. Negative feedback is something a communications team is trained to manage. 

In this case, it's relatively easy to sift past the slew of favourable media stories and rave reviews to find plenty of people dissing the video for playing into the very beauty stereotypes Dove claims to be trying to dispel.

"What's wrong with how the way the women look in the first sketches? There are people in the world that look like that," one woman commented.

"The majority of the women in the ad are thin, white, and have blond hair and blue eyes. Only a small sub-set of women are being depicted," said another.

But perhaps the most pointed criticism is aimed at the hypocrisy of the ad's central message.

According to New York Magazine columnist Ann Friedman, "The ad still upholds the notion that, when it comes to evaluating ourselves and other women, beauty is paramount. The goal shouldn’t be to get women to focus on how we are all gorgeous in our own way. It should be to get women to do for ourselves what we wish the broader culture would do: judge each other based on intelligence and wit and ethical sensibility, not just our faces and bodies."

As for myself, I like the video enough, but there's no ad Dove could create that would make me forget that they are owned and operated by the same company as Axe, which continues to run campaigns based entirely on objectifying women.

Creating a Great Collage in Photoshop


Model: Brandon Richmond

Following up on last week's post about collages, today I'll share how I made the collage above in Adobe Photoshop.

The steps below will be most useful to those of you who are at least a little familiar with Photoshop. If you've never used the program before, and offer some excellent tutorial videos on how to use Photoshop as well as other Adobe programs.

I'll also mention that these steps are only guidelines based on what I've learned so far in my Image Editing & Web Design course and information I've gathered online. There are many different ways to produce the same effect in Photoshop, and everyone will have their own creative process for achieving any one style or look.

My Guidelines for Creating a Great Collage:

1. The secret to a great collage is a great concept. Brainstorm some concepts or themes that you think you will be able to convey through images. It can be very simple like someone flying a kite or a fish in the ocean to something more complex and abstract depending on how skilled you are at manipulating images in Photoshop.

2. Choose several images (7 - 12) you might want to use in your collage and cut them out in Photoshop using the magic wand, quick selection, or pen tool.

3. Make any colour adjustments you want to each image using the selections available under: image, adjustments (brightness/contrast, hue/saturation, black & white).

4. Decide which image(s) you want as the focal point(s) of the collage. I suggest choosing no more than 1-3 images (textures & type included).

5. Create a new document in Photoshop with a canvas size of at least 800 x 400 pixels. This is where you will place your images and begin building the collage.

6. Place the image in the new document you created. As you bring in each image they will automatically appear on different layers. You will need to select the layer each image is on to make changes to that particular image.

7. Try moving images around to different areas of the canvas, rotating them, and decreasing their size. Cut out a part of an image and make it larger than the rest. Don't be afraid to try new things, you can always delete the layer and bring in the image again.

8. Experiment with applying different effects to the images (fx button is located in the layers window on the bottom left hand corner). Apply a colour, gradient, or pattern overlay, or try lowering the opacity levels on the image.

9. Add some type and try out different fonts. Maybe you only want to include one word, or maybe a couple sentences. Vary up the size and colour of the type to draw the eye to the most important words.

10. When you're relatively happy with how everything is looking, make some final tweaks. You might want to boost the colour, or experiment with overlaying different textures over the entire collage to achieve different looks. For example, I used a grunge texture to achieve — you guessed it, a grunge look.

What are some of your tips for creating a great collage? 

The Collage


photo courtesy Rex Hicks Flickr

What do you think of when you first hear the word "collage"? Maybe you think of a disorganized collection of random photographs — that's what I first thought of.

But collages come in all forms and some might be considered an art form in and of themselves, like the example above. This kind of collage is created using a software program called Adobe Photoshop, which allows the artist to layer images and effects on top of one another. 

What makes one collage visually appealing and the next disorderly can be hard to pin down. There are various design elements like making use of lines, shapes, textures and type that can help a designer to create an attractive piece. But there is also no shortage of beautiful images where rules have been clearly broken.

There is, however, an element present in all the best collages. Storytelling.


After five years of post-secondary education, I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Don't get me wrong, I love school — always have, but I've got two semesters to go until I will graduate college and be applying for a full-time, permanent job. That's a pretty good feeling.

With graduation a mere eight months away, it's time to develop a blog that will really showcase the skills I've learned over the course of my education, and one I can take with me as I pursue a career in communications.

Instead of a blog, I will soon be launching a personal website that will include a section for a blog. I'm really excited about this next step and being able to house a portfolio of my work online. From my writing to photography, it will be much more efficient for people to view samples of my work (even if it's only my parents who do so for a while :)

Developing a website, even if I am using a WordPress template, is a new challenge for me. I had to first make sure the domain I wanted was available, purchase it, and then obtain hosting. Thankfully, the company I purchased hosting through ( has provided excellent customer service so far. My assigned web coach — yes, web coach! — followed up with me immediately after my purchase, and even called to let me know that I had accidentally paid too much for an extra service I didn't need, and promptly refunded my money. I wasn't sure how this was all going to go at first, but it seems to all be falling into place.

So, hopefully by next week (I do have an IPP to work on here!) I'll be able to launch and invite you all to check it out!

22 Things After 1 Year of CreComm


More than one year ago I made a list of 22 things.

Twenty-two bite-sized goals I wanted to accomplish in the months leading up to starting the Creative Communications program, and continue working on throughout the school year.

The 22 things Creative Change Challenge is actually something my friend Angie Richmond started to help herself and others begin taking small steps toward positive change. She posted the challenge on her blog and encouraged people to sign up and make a list of twenty-two small steps they could take to change their life for the better.

It's kind of funny to look back at the list I made in March 2012. Some of the things I listed are really cheesy (No. 9 - worry-wort? really?). On the other hand, I am surprised by how many goals I accomplished. I'm the kind of person that makes a ton of lists, yet I never go back to cross anything out. It bothers me too much to see hard evidence of the two or three things I didn't finish. I'm well aware of what I didn't get to in a day, I don't need a reminder.

But I completed a few long-term projects in CreComm this year and I learned how important it is to evaluate progress during and at the end of any project. I may have missed out this time on evaluating throughout the process, but with the academic year coming to an end, It's a good time to reflect on the things on my list I did and didn't accomplish.

My list of 22 Things (made on March 2012)

1. Experiment more with photography
2. Read more. 
3. Volunteer with an organization I am passionate about.
4. Finish one of my many creative writing works in progress.
5. Go to yoga.
6. Blog more. 
7. Utilize Twitter and Pinterest more often.
8. Live in the moment.
9. Try not to be such a worry-wort!
10. Research places and opportunities I may not have thought about in the past.
11. Organize/decorate my creative space. 
12. Be more positive.
13. Have fun with my craft.
14. Watch more “writers” movies.
15. Read a book about public relations and communications.
16. Network. 
17. Work on my patience.
18. Work on my writing portfolio. 
19. Get out and attend all the free workshops, information sessions, and events related to my field that I can!
20. Save money for the future.
21. Take Risks.
22. Believe in myself.

My new list of 22 things

1. Go to yoga.
2. Go running outside once a week.
3. Ride my bike more often.
4. Drink more water.
5. Get 6-8 hours of sleep each night.
6. Spend more time with family.
7. Cook with more vegetables.
8. Create art for the walls in my house.
9. Learn to sew.
10. Save money.
11. Buy golf clubs.
12. Go golfing.
13. Buy a camera.
14. Take LOTS of photos.
15. Learn more about Photoshop and InDesign.
16. Learn more about colour theory and typography.
17. Write for Community News Commons.
18. Go camping this summer.
19. Redesign my blog.
20. Create business cards.
21. Update my LinkedIn profile.
22. Have fun.

5 Tips for Editing Video


Editing video is both an art and a science. It takes creativity as well as technical knowledge to create a great piece of video. The good news, however, is that learning the art and science of editing video is easy. Websites like teach the basics of using video editing software like Adobe Premiere, and trial and error is your best friend when it comes to applying your new skills. I recently completed a video montage for my college media production course and while I'm no expert, here are my 5 tips for editing video.

1. Rough Edits
After loading all of your footage into Adobe Premiere (or another video editing software program), watch all your footage and move only the best clips onto the timeline. Then do a “rough edit" of the best footage. Name each clip something that makes sense so that later when you are moving clips around to make the video, you can easily find the clip you want. 

2. Don’t Cut too Much
Shots should last longer than 1 second, unless the music and style of the video fits with very short cuts. Shots shorter than 1 second often don't give the viewer enough time to interpret them. If there is a lot of movement in a clip, it can last up to 10 seconds. Try varying up shot lengths to keep it interesting.

3. Music
The right music can make any piece of video 10 times better. The key is choosing music that suits the tone and style of the video. Don't be afraid to sample a few different tracks as it may take a few tries before you find the right music. If you choose a piece of music with lyrics, you may want to raise the volume of the music during certain parts of the video where the lyrics really speak to what is happening in a particular shot. If the piece of music you select is not long enough for your video, you can make the piece longer by editing the music so it loops.

4. Transitions
While it's fun to play around with different transitions during the editing process, too many different transitions in a video can look cheesy and is a rookie mistake. I prefer straight cuts over flashy transitions, but crossfades, fade-to-black, and fade-to-white transitions can also look professional if used once in a while.

5. Keyboard Shortcuts
This is something I am still getting used to, but keyboard shortcuts can save a lot of time. Shortcuts for play, pause, stop, copy, paste, and cut can save you up to 3 seconds each time. Although, 3 seconds may not sounds like a lot of time, when you are spending 40 hours editing a piece of video, it really starts to add up! 

Winnipeg Harvest - A Video Montage


Over the last three days I have been shooting video of volunteers at Winnipeg Harvest for a video montage assignment in my media production class. I've never shot video before, but let me tell you, it's way harder than it looks.

My biggest struggles were always making sure the camera was in focus, and being quick enough to catch on film interactions with people that would really tell the story of what volunteering at Winnipeg Harvest is all about.

Six hours of shooting and many, many mistakes later, here are my top 5 tips for first-timers shooting video.

1. Use a Tripod
Sometimes a tripod can feel limiting as you may not be able to get the variety of angles that you want. However, while professional videographers may be able to hold the camera steady, those with little experience shooting video will have a difficult time doing so. I attempted to go without a tripod for all of ten minutes and realized none of the footage I had captured was usable because it was still shaky, no matter how hard I was trying to hold it still. Using a tripod is simply the best way to ensure you footage isn't shaky, because shaky footage is only usable if you are shooting a specific type of documentary. 

2. Lighting, Lighting, Lighting
Nothing spoils a video shoot as much as poor lighting. Fixing poor lighting in post-production is possible, but make it easy on yourself and do it right from the beginning. Open the Iris of the camera up as much as possible without blowing out the shot, and whatever you do, don't shoot toward a source of light. Always make sure that the source of light is not hitting the back of your subject, and that their face or front is illuminated by light.

3. Avoid Zoom In and Out Shots
You rarely see a zoom in or out move on TV or in movies. This is because it doesn't look good. So forget the super 1000X zoom in and zoom out feature on your camera. Take a wide shot, then stop the camera. Zoom in and then record again and get your close up shot. Then edit them together. 

4. Establish Where You Are
Take a variety of shots to ensure you have enough to work in the editing stage to establish where the activities are taking place. Take a wide, medium, and close up shot of every single shot. Ask your subject(s) to repeat what they are doing a number of times to ensure you get a usable shot. If you only have a close up shot of something, and no wide or medium shot to establish where the subject is, you might be in trouble.

5. Keep Them Short and Simple
Try not to shoot long, drawn out video clips of more than two minutes. It's a chore to go through them in post-production. Shorter video clips allow you to edit more efficiently. Another tip is to name each video clip something that tells you what the video clip was about to help you edit even faster. A name like "C/U Chris smile" tells you exactly what the clip is and will save you time in the long run.

Magazine Trade Fair Success!


Anthony Carvalho and I manning Sprout's booth at the Magazine Trade Fair!

I can't believe it's almost April and my first-year of CreComm will be coming to an end in just a couple of weeks.

On Thursday, we wrapped up our major first-year project at the Creative Communications Magazine Trade Fair. My group and I launched Sprout, a magazine about environmentalism and sustainable living that we have been working on since we returned to college in January.

Overall, the response to our magazine and booth at the trade fair was overwhelmingly positive. A number of people said that if they saw Sprout on the rack at a bookstore, it would stand out from all the other magazines and that they would buy it. This is one of the best compliments we could receive as the whole point of the project was to create a real magazine that our target audience would find compelling enough to actually spend money on it. 

With magazines and other print publications struggling to survive and capture reader attention, it was extremely important that our marketing and PR tactics were focused and strategic in order to convince people to give Sprout a chance. I think we did very well putting together a booth at the trade fair that was exciting and interesting for people. Our booth was made out of wood and mats made out of recycled tires. We had a monitor displaying a slideshow of our magazine and a page thanking our sponsors, a draw for two Winnipeg Jets tickets donated by our sponsor Recycle Everywhere and several giveaways including Recycle Everywhere merchandise like pens and magnets, and all-natural vegan soap donated by our sponsor Di e Erbe.

I would like to congratulate all the magazine groups for all their hard work, and give a special congratulations to the groups that won awards for best content, best layout, and best overall.

Congratulations to Deepend magazine for winning best content. Your magazine showcased a whole other side to skateboarding and the article about the blind skateboarder was truly inspiring.

Congratulations to Neat magazine for winning best layout. I am really impressed with how modern and clean your magazine looked. Well done.

And last but not least, congratulations to The Hack magazine for winning best overall. This group did a fantastic job on content, layout, photography, and marketing. One of my best friends was also in this magazine group and I know how hard she worked on this project. Congratulations to you all!

Independent Professional Project (IPP) - Making Mental Health Fun


In the Creative Communications program we complete an Independent Professional Project (IPP) in second-year in order to graduate. This project can be almost anything, as long as the instructors can see the student has given the project some thought and that the project will use some of the skills we have learned in the program.

For my IPP, I have chosen to put on a mental health and wellness conference for post-secondary students. Now, this isn't going to be some boring, stuffy conference full of stiff presentations. It's going to be different, because it's going to be fun.

When people think about mental health, I think the words counselling, illness, issues, weakness etc. often come to mind, and these words have negative connotations behind them. My goal is to try and help change the way students think about mental health and reduce the stigma that surrounds the topic of mental health.

The way I am going to do this is through fun, interactive workshops and presentations that explore personal wellness and mental health. For example, I plan to have a mental health professional administer the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality inventory and educate students about the healthy coping mechanisms that may work well for them according to their personality type. I also plan to include stress-relieving workshops like expressive art, yoga, Pilates, Zumba, and meditation. Inspiring keynote speakers who have struggled with a mental illness in the past, or who are living with a mental illness will also share their experiences, offer advice, and probably tell a few jokes.

Now here's the part I'm not sure about. I don't know if students will care, let alone come to this event.

If you are a student, recent graduate, young person, or just someone who thinks you might have some advice for me, I want your feedback! Please help me answer the following questions — and please don't be shy!

Would you be interested in attending this conference?

Would you pay a small fee to attend this conference ($5 - $10)?

What could I do to increase the chances that you would attend this conference?

What are some of the topics you would like to see covered at the conference?

Would you drop in for a free yoga, Pilates, Zumba, or meditation class during a spare at school?

What kind of food would entice you to attend this conference?

I thank you in advance for your comments. This is the first event outside of a potluck I have ever planned, and I need all the help I can get!

Magazine Project


Over the last 3 months, I have been working with 3 of my classmates to write, design, and publish a 24-page magazine about environment and sustainable living in Manitoba. The last two weeks in particular, have been full of late nights as we try to wrap up our work, get ready to send our magazine off to be printed, and plan our magazine launch, which will occur on March 28 at Red River College (you're all invited!).

Even though I have been spending all my waking hours at school and am in dire need of a good night's rest, I am really pleased with how our magazine is turning out and can't wait to get a copy in my hands. This assignment has been the most challenging, interesting, and hands-on assignment I have ever completed. I met so many interesting people while conducting research and interviews for the magazine, and I've learned so much about photography through the trial and error of capturing great photos.

When I entered CreComm, I had little knowledge of editing software programs such as InDesign and Photoshop. As I compare my work from first term with my design work in our magazine, I can really see how my design skills have come a long way. In fact, I am really enjoying using InDesign and Photoshop, and am looking forward to learning more about the programs.

I apologize for the short blog post this week — next week will be much better, promise!

Happy weekend everyone.

A Thousand Farewells


I first learned about Nahlah Ayed's book, A Thousand Farewells from my mom. My mom is a type of social worker who helps people from Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and many other countries, settle into their new life in Canada. Through her work she has met incredibly strong and resilient people, who have survived devastating wars and conflicts that many people, including myself, only read or hear about in the news. When my mom told me about Ayed’s book, she described it as a fascinating account of one of the most politically charged areas of the world. I knew I could probably take her word for it that it was a book worth reading, and so I was really excited when I learned we would be reading A Thousand Farewells in our journalism class.

Ayed’s style of writing is something that I think works really well in this book. Within the first few pages, Ayed's poignant writing drew me in. From descriptions of her childhood home in Winnipeg to that of Al-Wihdat, the cramped and dirty camp Ayed’s parents uprooted them to, Ayed’s writing details, dictates, and informs readers. I for one appreciate her journalistic style of writing during parts of the book that deal with war and conflict that are ridden with layers of complex history and politics. For example, when Ayed describes various wars in the Middle East, she provides the who, what, when, where, why, and how of each situation, to the best of her ability.

Ayed's dedication to providing readers with the facts and historical and political background of each region she visits, is an aspect of the book that I think works well. Although some people have described the book as too dense, I think Ayed expertly navigates around layers of history, culture, and conflict, to ultimately tell a moving story about people and humanity. I admit there were some parts of the book I had to read a couple of times to make sure I had the story straight, but I don’t think this is a negative aspect of the book. Wars, governments, and politics are complicated topics with complicated histories, and the road to understanding how they affect people is not straightforward. I think Ayed used as simple language as accurately possible, and provided a true account of what it’s like to live in the Middle East.

What doesn’t work well in this book is that there are many, many confusing names. In some cases, I think Ayed could have provided more complete physical descriptions of characters in order to help readers remember who is who throughout the book. More than once, Ayed introduced a minor character early on in a chapter, only to move on from that character, and then return to them after several pages, or even an entire chapter. Sometimes when she did this, I had no idea who she was referring to and it brought me out of the story as I had to flip back to remind myself of who the character was.

There are a couple things missing from the book that I think readers would find useful. Firstly, the book could benefit from visuals such as a map of the Middle East, and photographs of some of the places Ayed travels to. Secondly, while Ayed describes her childhood in Winnipeg, her family’s move to Al-Wihdat, and then back to Winnipeg again, she doesn’t offer up much about her personal life throughout the rest of the book. I would like to know more about her personal life as an adult. Did she have a romantic life at all? What did she do for fun while living in the Middle East? What about her friends back home? Lastly, I was often left wondering about the logistics of being a journalist in the Middle East. I am curious as to how Ayed managed to gain access into some of the more dangerous areas. Was it the CBC that arranged it? Some people may find these kind of details boring, but I am interested to know how she managed to navigate within such unstable regions.

I think what journalists can learn from this book is that regardless of what they are writing about, whether the story is about a war, plane crash, storm, election, or some other issue, the story is always about people. The people Ayed meets, interviews, quotes, and befriends in A Thousand Farewells are really what make the book come alive. I also think journalists can learn to play on their strengths the way Ayed does. She uses her language skills, culture, and network of connections to get to the root of the story. Lastly, I think journalists can learn that there are multiple sides to every story and that trying to represent as many sides of the story as possible as Ayed did in this book, will lend credibility to their work.

As I was reading this book, it reminded me of another non-fiction book I read recently called Arrival City by Doug Saunders. Like Ayed, Saunders is a journalist interested in how people in the developing world are affected by social, political, and historical issues, as well as conflict that results from these issues. His book, Arrival City provides a fascinating look into the lives of people living in slums around the world. Like A Thousand Farewells, Arrival City contains stories of people living in poverty, who are frustrated with government, and struggling to survive day-to-day. But also like A Thousand Farewells, Arrival City is full of stories about people who are resilient, hopeful, and determined to change the future. 

This book affected me in a number of ways. Reading about the realities of war and poverty in the Middle East reminded me of why I am so thankful to live in Canada. The fact that I can live in a house and go to school and work without having to worry about my safety in any major way, is something I am very thankful for.

This book was also a wake-up call for me as it made me realize how little I know about conflicts in the world that continue to kill and displace people. So many of the people I interact with on a daily basis, at school, the grocery store, and even people I pass walking down the street, have immigrated or come to Canada as refugees. I know so little about what these people have been through and the reasons behind political instability in countries around the world. This summer I plan to pick up another non-fiction book like Ayed's in order to try and learn more about world current events.

Thinkers' Conference 2013


For the last two days, I've had the pleasure of covering the Thinkers' Conference 2013 at the University of Winnipeg for The Projector.

A fantastic line-up of guest speakers from Winnipeg and across North America presented at the conference including, Jack Calhoun, senior consultant to U.S. President Barack Obama and Shulamith Koenig, the 2003 UN Prize recipient for Human Rights.

Tomorrow is the last day of the conference and will get started with Shulamith Koenig and Vice-Principal of St. John's High School, Cathy Sherraz,  discussing Human Rights education. Topics covered later in the day include environment, Manitoba's water issues, and climate change.

Tickets to tomorrow's sesssions can still be purchased online at or in-person at 515 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg. 

From left: Jack Calhoun, Bernice Cyr, Damon Johnson, Danny Smyth, and Liz Wolff

Mental Health Awareness Makes it Big


If you haven’t struggled with a mental illness yourself, someone in your life has, even if you don’t know it.

The Canadian Mental Health Association reports that 20% of Canadians will be personally affected by mental illness at some point in their lives. So how come we don’t talk more about mental illness?

Well, it looks we’re starting to.

On Tuesday, Bell's Bell Let's Talk campaign got people across Canada talking about mental health. The company's pledge to donate 5 cents for every text message and long distance phone call made by Bell customers, and every Facebook share of the Bell Let’s Talk image and tweet using #BellLetsTalk got a whopping $96,266,266 people to join the conversation about mental health! This translates into $4,813,313.30 more funds that Bell will donate this year to mental health initiaves across Canada. 

The Bell Let's Talk campaign could not have come at a better time for myself this year. I’m in the middle of planning the proposal stage of my independent professional project (IPP) for school, and finally settled on the idea of planning an event in support of mental health. Seeing so many Canadians express their support for Bell Let's Talk has got me really excited about being a part of the mental health awareness movement, and even more motivated to get to work planning my event.

February 12, 2014 is even starting to look like a great day for my event, so save the date everyone :) 

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