Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Oh cheez...I almost forgot! Action Strategies is moving!

As of the end of February, Action Strategies' long-known domain name of www.action-strategies.ca will no longer be in operation. As will my email address of mark@action-strategies.ca.

Experience over the past two years has shown me that the addition of the hyphen only complicated matters. In it's place, Action Strategies' new home will be found at:


Additionally, you'll need to reach me by email at: mark@actionstrategies.ca.

The old domain will remain in place and registered with Action Strategies but will eventually forward visitors over to the new site.

Using bloggers to leverage marketing and build a buzz

Ok, so we've all heard about blogs and their power to influence opinion. Hopefully, if you're reading this blog, you've got an interest in how to commercially apply this new social medium...one that allows readers, publics, targets, prospects, etc. to give you instantaneous feedback.

So yada yada yada! What does this really mean? What this means is that with the ability to have comments posted by interested publics, your web content has the capacity to remain constantly fresh. By extension, this means the potential to increase the visibility of your online PR and presence also goes up.

On a wider scale, PR practitioners are cluing in on this possibility. For example, as a publicist, I can research a vast array of blogs that exist in the ''blogosphere'' and with a carefully coordinated campaign of emailing the blog authors or posting message responses to their posts, the possibility of initiating a viral marketing campaign really becomes impressive. There are tools out there that allow individual entrepreneurs and association executives the option of doing this work themselves. In reading a post recently from another PR professional well known in the US, it was suggested that one should subscribe to google news via blog posts for leads of where to respond.

While this offers one option, I can't help but think that the process is overly burdensome for the average person in terms of the time commitment required to reach every single blogger who could have enough impact.

At the risk of sounding self-serving, I would venture that this task would be better pawned off to a professional. On numerous occasions, I've used blogs and bloggers as an avenue to promote clients or a cause. Most often rather than not, blog posts are more likely to first appear in media-monitoring search engines. Moreover, a good publicist takes the time necessary to build appropriate lists of bloggers with which a dialogue and relationship can be established.

Imagine if you will, a buzz being developed on another site that talks about your services or what's going on with your website. Pretty exciting, no? What's best is that blogging public relations can often be monitored in close to real time.


Mark Buzan is Principal and Chief Magnifier in Action Strategies, a full service Marketing Communications, Public Relations and Public Affairs Consultantcy. You can view his website at www.actionstrategies.ca.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Podcasts...What are they & why do I need them?

In my view, Podcasting offers professionals the opportunity to literally skyrocket their credibility and reputation with their clientele and prospects. As said in the Magnifier newsletter, imagine if you will the creation of your own downloadable radio show. With the properly attracted crowd, the quality of the information you provide in a more easily followed form than written form is very powerful.

But concretely, how can professionals, organizations, and associateions leverage this newest tool on the internet block? In terms of Public Relations efforts, podcasting is truly incredible.

My favorite example is one that I have been using most frequently: trade shows or conventions. Imagine if you will, the trouble most go through in making their presentation and booth a success. Months can go into the details and building of momentum only to have an anti-climatic deflation of buzz the day after the convention.

Not following me? Take for example, the work that goes into building the appropriate marketing material, booth and driving media attention to your offer. A good publicist can drive up awareness and develop good public relations because there is something big forthcoming. However, once the event is done, what left is there to report?

Podcasting allows organizations the opportunity not only to report via audio OR video the happenings of the trade floor show, but also leverage all that buzz AFTER the event. For example, by encouraging prospective members and/or media who could not attend to subscribe to the podcast, one allows them to experience the event for themselves and at their convenience. The podcast allows you one more kick at the can in terms of driving awareness and credibility.

One other example

Let's say you run a business with a very long sales cycle. Most often, consultants or businesses with very specialized and more expesive lines of services fall into this category.

Credibility and reputations are everything! Trust can only be built up over a long period of time.

With podcasting, you are afforded the opportunity to provide a very select form of information to a niche and build regular communication to it. With such a direct channel going to such a select audience, your public relations efforts a bound to pay off.


Mark Buzan is the Principal and Chief Magnifier of Action Strategies, a full service Marketing Communications, Public Relations, and Public Affairs consultancy. You can visit his new website at www.actionstrategies.ca

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Who is Wajid Khan?

Who is this new guy to join the Tory caucus?

The truth about Wajid goes back some time. In truth, I wonder why he ever was a liberal before hand? During my time in the office of Jason Kenney, Wajid was an active promoter of the Stockwell Day leadership cause (round number one) for the Canadian Alliance...yes, you heard it...the Canadian Alliance!

In this odd environment however, I suppose anything goes! Wajid offers the tories some breathing room...for the moment. His cros over to the other side of the floor could perhaps signal some more emboldeness for the government. Rather than gather more than one opposition party, it's possible that only one party at a time will be needed to keep them affloat. Interestingly enough, this same ''stability'' could also be used to the opposite.

For example, let's say one party over the other becomes a target by the conservatives. In shrewd political terms, it becomes easier for the tories to lay the blame of an election on the Bloc, Liberals, or even the NDP! Time will only tell. For now however, the tories have Wajid. Will this man have the considerable influence over foreign policy as predicted in the media? Here are a few snippets describing his background:

Wajid Ali Khan is a Canadian businessman and politician, representing the riding of Mississauga—Streetsville for the Conservative Party. He is also the special advisor of the Prime Minister of Canada for the Middle East and South Asia. Khan served as an officer and pilot in the Pakistan Air Force from 1966 to 1973. He took part in the India-Pakistan war in 1971 as a MiG-19 fighter pilot. He was shot down during one of his missions and spent some time as a Prisoner of War.

He moved to Toronto, Canada, in 1974. Since then, he has emerged as a prominent voice in the city's Pakistani and Muslim communities of the city. Prior to his election, he was the President and CEO of the largest automobile showroom in Canada, that of Dufferin Mazda. He can still be heard advertising for his dealership regularly on the FAN 590 morning Radio Show in Toronto.

Khan supported Paul Martin for the Liberal Party leadership in 2003. He was elected with over 50% support in Mississauga—Streetsville in the 2004 federal election, defeating Conservative Nina Tangri by nearly a 20 percentage point margin.

Along with Yasmin Ratansi, Khan is the first Muslim Member of Parliament (MP) to be elected for the Liberal Party. Rahim Jaffer, also a Muslim MP, had been elected for the Reform Party in 1997. Interestingly, Khan voted against the government's same-sex marriage bill on June 28, 2005.

Khan was re-elected in the 2006 federal election, defeating Conservative Raminder Gill by an 11 percentage point margin. Since his reelection, he has been appointed Associate Critic for National Defense, and most recently Associate Critic for Treasury Board. Khan initially supported Joe Volpe in the 2006 Liberal leadership campaign, and later joined Volpe in throwing his support to Bob Rae.

He was appointed as special advisor to Prime Minister Stephen Harper for the Middle East and Afghanistan on August 8, 2006. Khan has emphasized the non-partisan nature of his appointment, noting that he sought and received the approval of Liberal leader Bill Graham prior to taking on the responsibility.

Any thoughts?
Mark Buzan is the owner of Action Strategies, a public affairs & marketing communications consultancy. You can subscribe now to his monthly public affairs newsletter by visiting www.actionstrategies.ca and dropping down the newsletter menu.

The Low Down on the Federal Cabinet Shuffle

There are a number of notable changes to the federal cabinet that government relations practitioners should heed:

Rob Nicholson moves from his prominent position as House Leader towards becoming Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. He takes this position over from Vic Toews who is now President of the Treasury Board. Many pundits are crediting this shuffle as a means of preparing the government for the coming federal election likely to be this Spring. While being a strong Minister, some have suggested that Vic would be better placed in a portfolio with less media attention.

The Senate's Marjory LeBreton takes on additional duties as Secretary of State (Seniors), in addition to her responsibilities as Leader of the Government in the Senate.

Moving from the Immigration portfolio, Monte Solberg becomes Minister of Human Resources and Social Development, taking over from Diane Finley. In this instance, a true shuffle has occured as the two ministers are swapping portfolios. Diane Finley now becomes Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.

Peter Van Loan becomes Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform. He fills this position after Michael Chong left a void in the Harper Cabinet. You may recall that he was the junior Minister who left in disagreement with the government's stance on declaring Quebec a nation within Canada.

FINALLY....there was no surprise in the announcement that Rona Ambrose was moved out of the Environment portfolio. Long embattled and not well supported by the PM, it was becoming more and more evident that the Conservatives needed to put a new face on this portfolio as public pressure for a new environmental position presented itself. Rona now becomes President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and Minister of Western Economic Diversification. In her place, John Baird becomes Minister of the Environment.

Ministerial changes haven't been the only shuffle to watch. For the first time, the Prime Minister has decided to add a new category of minister: the Secretary of State. A sort-of cross between a Minister and Parliamentary Secretary, the newly appointed Secretaries of State will be members of the Ministry and will be bound by Cabinet solidarity, but will not be members of Cabinet (Senator LeBreton will remain a full Cabinet Minister). Each will attend the meetings of the appropriate Cabinet Committee, in light of his or her responsibilities. Each of the Secretaries of State has been given a specific area of responsibility, in order to assist one or more Ministers consistent with previous Canadian practice and the practice in other Westminster governments. Secretaries of State will discharge this role in a number of ways, including:

•representing their Minister, or the Government, at events;
•meeting with stakeholders and other groups;
•demonstrating policy leadership on one or more specific initiatives relating to their assignment, and at the direction of the responsible Minister; and
•appearing on behalf of their Minister in Parliament and before its committees as may be required.

Unlike Ministers, who will remain full members of the Cabinet, Secretaries of State will not be members of the Cabinet. (Senator LeBreton will remain a full Cabinet Minister). However, each Secretary of State will attend meetings of a Cabinet Committee, in keeping with his or her specific areas of responsibility.

As members of the Ministry, Secretaries of State have been sworn to the Privy Council. They will be bound by Cabinet solidarity, and will be bound to respect Cabinet confidences. Ministers will remain fully accountable for the powers vested by statute, and for the direction of government departments and agencies within their respective portfolios.

For a list of the new Secretaries of State, email me at my new website contact page: www.actionstrategies.ca

Mark Buzan is the owner of Action Strategies, a public affairs & marketing communications consultancy. You can subscribe now to his monthly public affairs newsletter by visiting www.actionstrategies.ca and dropping down the newsletter menu.