Where’s Leona?

492877408_3246729d07_sThanks for stopping by. I haven’t posted on this blog in a long while, so please check me out elsewhere. I work as a digital and social media marketing consultant. My work site is at leonahobbs.com. Find me on Twitter @flackadelic. I keep a Tumblr-powered lifestream going at tumbleona. You can find me at numerous social sites around the web too. If you’d like to connect, please drop me a note at leona (at) leonahobbs DOT com.

photo: CD rainbow by NesQaurX

Farewell to the Aughties

I just finished compiling my “Feeling Fine in 2009″ playlist. Since 2004, I have compiled an annual list of the best tracks of the year. Personal favourites, critical darlings, and popular hits all get knocked together and uploaded to our iPods. I’m already thinking about my next playlist – the”Naughty Aughties” best of the decade.

4th gen iPod by Mr. Bsod

The annual holiday music project aside, there’s nothing like the introspection and nostalgia that comes with looking back over a year, and a decade. I find myself checking in against my dreams. Have I been true to myself and what I value? What have I accomplished? How have I made a difference? Have I been a good person, wife, sister, daughter, friend? Heavy stuff to be sure.

Ten years ago, I was a newly-wed living in a basement apartment in the “North Beaches” in Toronto. I was working as an Account Executive at Fleishman-Hillard. Taking a look back is a blur. John returned to school full-time to take a post-graduate certificate in public relations, my God kids were born, we moved to an apartment in North Toronto, got my first iPod, I injured my back, stopped using film in my camera, got on board with this whole Internet thing, got promoted 6 times, mourned the loss and celebrated the life of my Grandma Hobbs, sold my first car to a scrapper for $25, changed the way I consumed music, took a 6-week trip around Europe with Mr. Flackadelic, quit my job at FH, worked for Yahoo!, took a job at Tucows, bought a new car, stood up for my sister at her wedding, bought a house, got a dog, went to work at SMG. There were a lot of constants throughout the decade. Quality time with family and old and new friends. Down time at the cottage and in Nova Scotia. And of course, living and having adventures with my wonderful, supportive and incredible husband.

I can’t wait to see what 2010 and the next decade have in store.

Dispatch from PAB09 #2

Second in a series of posts about PAB09. The first is here. The audio from PAB09 will be posted in chunks over the summer on the Canadian Podcast Buffet with Mark Blevis and Bob Goyetche. I urge you to check them out as it will, no doubt, be some high-quality listening. I was totally blown away by a JOLT! delivered by Scarborough Dude. It was some heady stuff.

Daniele Rossi’s JOLT! Reach Out and Touch Someone was an reflection on his work with his Stuttering is Cool podcast.

Stuttering is Cool is a community for people who stutter. Daniele compared the stuttering community to the shared experience of war veterans who only talk about the war with other veterans. Thanks to the affordability of hardware and software he is able to tap into a worldwide audience of knowledge sharing and mentoring. He challenged everyone to help others to make a difference.  And also, to never underestimate your podcast idea. After all, he said, “Who’s going to stutter on the air?”

Tim Coyne by Daniele Rossi

Next up was Tim Coyne with Unkempt – The Creative Workflow of a Storyteller.

Tim Coyne does incredible storytelling in Unkempt, part of The Hollywood Podcast. His talk was The Creative Workflow of a Storyteller.

For Unkempt, Tim started paying attention to life, to “the connective tissues between the story and the mundane”.  A big part of Tim’s process is the time he takes to put his story together. Unlike the delightful Scarborough Dude, he doesn’t record on the spot, put it together and put it out. Instead, Tim takes time to establish the connections in his story and “connect the dots”, because “not everything is a story yet”.

For example, he experienced the film shoot featured in his Root of Passage podcast in May 2007 and put the podcast out in March of 2009. Says Tim, “Things weren’t a full story yet. Things needed to happen.” He develops his shows to have some sort of thematic element and deeper meaning.

For someone who takes such care to develop his art, his tools and workflow are really crucial. (Here, Tim is preaching to the choir, as I am a total geek for workflow tweaks and lifehacks.) He has refined a toolset that works to capture his thoughts and inspiration. Tim was inspired by The Creative Habit from Twyla Tharp and David Allen’s Getting Things Done which helped him devise a way to get his thoughts, ideas and inspiration into a processing system. Some of his tools:

  • Jott – calls number from his mobile, dictates his thoughts, gets an email transcription
  • OmniFocus – as a tool for gathering and developing the concept, list of ideas – a running creative process for me – what were the big ideas, the quotes in whatever experience he’s talking about
  • Scrivener – likes being able to see his story as he develops his scripts and how things interconnect and how projects relate to each other

Tim likes to tackle his work one act at a time. He says “over time he’s also gotten more strict about being really efficient in opening act which is the teaser.” He tries to take care of the listener in Act 1.

He also develops a theme for each episode that includes title, music, photo that ties back to “the big picture of the show”.

When engaging in the process of developing an episode. He tries to write an essay about the show going to do. He also does a live performance at a open mic night. He says the live performance helps him, “check audience response and connection” and to take and see if he has a story worth telling.

I was inspired by Tim and his story about how he puts together his wonderful stories.

Jay Moonah by Mark Blevis

Jay Moonah by Mark Blevis

Jay Moonah gave a five-minute JOLT! called Search Engines and Trust.

Jay was inspired to undertake a project exploring the trust people have for search engine results by a comment made by a teacher on a CBC radio program. She called in and made the comment that most of her students “believe what Google tells them is right”. Late last year, Forrester Research came out with a survey on trust. At the top of the list, people trust email from people they know, second most-trusted source is consumer product ratings and reviews. Search engines/portals come in at 3. That got Jay thinking about trust and search engines. As a marketer, “part of what you do every day is called SEO.  Basically, you do your best to get results to the top when people type them into Google.” Jay believes that the reason people think Search Engines are trustworthy, is because they don’t think people are in the back-end trying to manipulate the results. “When media literacy is being taught in school, they don’t say “be critical when you’re typing things into Google”.” So many people are part of a generation that grew up with things published in print being vetted through a process.  Now people are pushing things to get to the top of a search engine. Jay was inspired to write an e-Book on the topic which was published on as a manifesto on ChangeThis.com. His final message “tell people you know who are  information consumers to read past the first results in a search engine.”

I’m fast-forwarding to Sunday to highlight the session delivered by Whitney Hoffman as part of Pecha Kucha, (where a presenter delivers a 6-minute talk on a standard format of 20 slides for 20 seconds each). If when I arrived in Kingston I was feeling low and burned out, by Sunday morning I was starting to feel more like myself. Whitney delivered a wonderful presentation on the 7 Deadly Sins of Social Media which was an excellent reminder of some of the fundamentals of how to “be” online. Certainly, as someone who makes her living in the space, it was pretty much the best sermon I could have heard on that particular Sunday morning.

In 7 Deadly Sins of Social Media, Whitney reminded us that “fame popularity and expertise are not the same thing”. She spoke about the sins, and the flip side, the seven virtues.

Prudence – take a moment to breathe, reflect before posting

Justice – fair and equal are not the same thing, strive for treating others like you would like to be treated

Restraint/Temperance – Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. You need not to attend every battle to which you are invited.

Courage/Fortitude – Develop the ability to confront fear, pain, risk, uncertainty and intimidation

Faith – trust in the truth of a person, place or thing. Loss of control requires adoption of faith

Hope – believe things will work out

Charity – help others without thinking “What’s in it for me?”

Whitney reminded us that “you are never given an idea without the power to make it happen. You may have to suffer for it however.”

Thanks to all the people who made PAB09 such a quality experience.

Dispatch from PAB09 #1

Podcasters Across Borders promised that PAB09 would bring it to the next level. “Sure, podcasting is about creating compelling audio or video, but media creation is so much more. It’s about building and engaging communities, using social media dynamics, and honing the skills we use in all aspects of our online presence.” Thanks to the organizers, sponsors, speakers and participants, the event last weekend did not disappoint.

Six String Nation ay PAB09 by LexnGer

Six String Nation at PAB09 by LexnGer

Due to a prior commitment last Friday night, I wasn’t able to make it to Kingston until Saturday morning. By all accounts, I missed an incredible time with Jowli Taylor of Six String Nation. “The goals of the Six String Nation project are simple: to invite the many voices and perspectives that together define the spectrum of Canadian identity and experience to speak to one another – each in their own voice; to celebrate the people and stories that make each part of Canada distinct; to tell the story of a country from the roots to the trunk rather than the other way around; and to encourage us to tell that story to ourselves and the world through music – the language that Canada speaks just about better than anyone else in the world.” Alexa Clark, who documented PAB09 in photos,  writes: “Jowi Taylor of the Six String Nation project was the keynote at Podcasting Across Borders. WOW! He has lead the creation of a guitar which contains 64 pieces of Canadian History. It has inspired both the newest 50cent piece and a book. But the project still needs help to finish. Check SixStringNation.com.”

I met Mark Blevis in the hotel lobby bright and early on the Saturday morning of PAB09. Mark is co-founder and co-organizer of Podcasters Across Borders. He was up first on Saturday and spoke about a Curiosity Manifesto and how so much of out thinking is goal and results-oriented. Mark spoke about how curiosity is not about the end, or finding an answer. At the end of his talk he presented his Curiosity Manifesto:

1. Asking one question is only the beginning

2. Seek a greater understanding, not a solution to problems

3. A curious attitude will set me free

Tod Maffin delivered a Jolt called JUICE: Getting Your Creative On. Here are my free-form notes:

Most people confuse inspiration with creativity. People don’t spend time talking and sourcing inspiration. You have to go out and do things. In your own space that’s not going happen. Go to art exhibit, an AA meeting, a meetup, go sit in an emergency room. Just be. Don’t do anything there.  You start to notice things. Look at things twice – a flower? Examine the soil. Boat horn?  Listen actively what comes next. Inspiration occurs in the absence. We need to take time for our brains to process things. We need to find a way to capture all this stuff. Like an idea book. You got to be able to pull it out and write it down. You need a creativity bank. Prime your brain – let your brain do things with processed images. Sit in a room by yourself for 3 minutes. Remember scenes and start your synapses firing. Eliminate things from the room if you can. Do it a second time 48-hours later, you’ll retain memory/learning for life. To be creative you have to find the best place to work. Pull something out of inspiration. Sing. Don’t block it.

Next up, Valerie Hunter who presented While You Weren’t Looking … From the visible to the audible

Valerie does video description. Here’s an example of her work.

Valerie described her creative process and workflow. The balance of providing context to a visual narrative and being inclusive in undertaking her work.

Links to learn more:

Friday Phive: Home again




Toronto Cityscape

Originally uploaded by Smaku

“Home again, home again, jiggety-jig”. My dad used to recite that rhyme when we were kids and came home from a trip. Tonight I find myself in that very same headspace. It has been a short work week with two days of business travel slapped right in the middle. I am happy to be home with John and the dog and listening to some sweet tunes.

1. That’s the Way by Led Zeppelin. This song reminds me of my friend Mike. We used to hang out for hours on end talking and he’d play guitar and sing Zeppelin songs.

2. Crooked Teeth by Death Cab for Cutie. They released an EP earlier this month. I need to chase that one down and give a listen.

3. Future by Cut Copy. This track is from their first LP, Bright Like Neon Love. I made the Wordle below on the reviews for that album at Metacritic.com. Cut Copy wrapped up touring April. They’re back to Melbourne now and (hopefully) at work on another great album.

Wordle: Cut Copy Bright Like Neon Love

4. Killer Cars by Radiohead – Old Radiohead, new Radiohead. It is all good Radiohead. This is “Thom’s second song on a driving theme, this one deals with the fear that every time we venture out in our cars we may be killed. Originally intended for release as one of the singles from The Bends during the initial recording sessions, the song actually debuted in the band’s live set in 1993.” (via)

5. Crush with Eyeliner by R.E.M. I was in first year university when I had a “crush” on R.E.M.’s monster, which is according to Rolling Stone, “…a deeply felt, thematically coherent, consistently invigorating challenge to “evolve or die,” with all the courage of its convictions.”

Friday Phive for 3-April-2009: Eight and Zees

vampire weekend, exposure from the gods by ourcommon

vampire weekend, exposure from the gods by ourcommon

Song 1: Death of an Interior Decorator by Death Cab for Cutie (click to listen at Grooveshark)

About 26% of Interior Decorators are self-employed. I wish I was better at decorating my interiors.

Song 2: I Know You Got Soul by Erik B and Rakim

Wikipedia says: “Eric B. & Rakim is generally considered to be one of the most influential and innovative groups in the hip hop genre. Though they never had much success on the charts, Eric B. & Rakim are commonly considered one of the greatest hip hop acts of all time, and Rakim, because of his innovation, influence, historical importance and tremendous skill is often considered by many fans and critics to be one of the greatest MCs of all time.”

Song 3: 4 a.m. by Cherry Ghost

Here are 4 facts about cherries:

  • The cherry is the state fruit of Utah.
  • Michigan has over 35,000 acres of tart cherry trees and grows almost 75% of the tart cherries produced in the United States.
  • Cherries are drupes, or stone fruits, related to plums and more distantly to peaches and nectarines.
  • Cherries have been enjoyed since the Stone Age — pits were found in several Stone Age caves in Europe. The Romans carried cherries throughout Europe and England along the routes of conquest.

And 1 story from today about a Scottish ghost sighting.

Song 4: Lights Out by Santogold

I totally forgot to turn my lights out for Earth Hour last weekend. I was drinking wine with my neighbours. Whoopsie. According to the Toronto Star, “from one city in 2007 – Sydney, Australia – to 2,800 cities worldwide in 2009, Earth Hour has grown into a movement expected to involve almost a billion people.”

Song 5: I Want You by Kings of Leon

Its only 18 more days until the Kings of Leon show at the ACC. The last time I saw Kings of Leon they were supporting the Strokes in 2003 at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga. I’ve been hooked on Kings since the EP and I’m looking forward to hear songs like I Want You in an arena.

Public Relations Education at Loyalist College

I’ve accepted an invitation to join the advisory committee for the public relations program at Loyalist College. I’m a graduate of the Print Journalism program at Loyalist, so I’m pleased to be able to give back to the School of Media Studies. I’m also quite confident that with my concentration in digital communications, I’ll be the “way out there” practitioner on the committee. I’m not worried – bring on the constructive dialogue. I’m looking forward to meeting the other advisors next Friday.

I believe Kerry Ramsay, the program’s coordinator, is doing a tremendous job preparing her students to embark on careers in all facets of communications and public relations. I have been to the college to speak to her students a handful of times over the past few years and each visit provided me with an opportunity to get out of the “weeds” of day-to-day execution and gain some perspective on the work I’m doing and how the changes in our industry present compelling opportunities for new professionals.

Here are some recent highlights of the kind of learning activity going on at Loyalist College Public Relations program: