Meet NOW’s new Executive Director of Operations

Michele Della MattiaWe’re delighted to announce that Michele Della Mattia is NOW’s brand-new Executive Director of Operations. It’s a completely new role, and nobody could be better suited to it than Michele.

Michele has a depth of hands-on knowledge of every aspect of NOW’s operations that few of us could hope to rival. Michele has worked with us since 1999: starting at the reception desk, then quickly taking on media coordination and ad trafficking. She proved to be adept at orchestrating a thousand moving parts into a seamless whole, and got to the point where she could pretty much recite passages of the ACTRA contract from memory. (Did you ever catch one of her dramatic readings? Chills.)

As senior account manager, she’s shown a tenacity and attention to detail that keeps projects on track and delights clients. Her combination of curiosity and caring means she often knows what you need before you do, but listens carefully so she gets it right.

Now, as our Executive Director of Operations, Michele will help make sure our entire team has the resources and support to excel at helping you meet your toughest communication challenges. And she will continue to keep our systems, workflow and technology streamlined and up to date, so your campaign goes smoothly from start to finish.

We hope you’ll join us in welcoming her to this new leadership role. And please let us know if you have any questions – or want to pass on your congratulations!

New MGEU ads profile the real people – and services – behind the word “clerical”

A mosaic of stills from two MGEU ads

Sometimes a vague phrase can hide an important idea — or some important people.

Take “clerical workers”. For most people, those words probably don’t create much of a picture in their heads. Whatever image they do get probably involves paper and not much else.

That’s partly because a lot of the work those employees do happens behind the scenes. Their jobs are a big part of what makes the work of more visible public-sector workers — such as teachers, firefighters, nurses or librarians — as effective and valuable as it is.

That’s the challenge the Manitoba Government and General Employees’ Union decided to take on with their latest campaign: replacing that vague image with real human faces.

Read the rest of this entry »

Preventing the next disaster: Teamsters Canada campaigns for safer freight rail


In July of last year, a runaway crude-oil freight train exploded in Lac-Mégantic, killing at least 42 people and devastating the town's centre. It was the deadliest rail disaster in Canada in nearly 150 years… but by no means the only one, with a freight rail accident happening every 60 hours.

In the aftermath of Lac-Mégantic, Canadians have been asking tough questions about rail safety and deregulation. And Teamsters Canada, whose 1250,000 members include more than 12,000 rail workers, is campaigning hard for safer rail transportation.

Read the rest of this entry »

World Teachers’ Day: a big thanks to teachers (and their unions!) everywhere

Teaching: an around-the-clock job - World Teachers' Day 2014

We’re thankful every day to work so closely with teachers. To the the BC Teachers’ Federation, Manitoba Teachers’ Society and Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, and teachers’ unions across Canada — and to the dedicated teaching professionals they represent — our thanks for everything you do.

Meet Allegra… again

Allegra in a 22-year-old leaflet... and Allegra today

“We’d love to have you work with us, but we’d like to see a little more experience on this resume. Can you come back in about, say, 22 years?”

We’re delighted to introduce the newest member of the NOW team. And if you can’t help but think there’s something familiar about her, something you can’t quite put your finger on, there may be a reason for that.

Allegra Strazicich actually first worked for us as a model back in 1992 — at the age of six months, as the adorable face on the front of a leaflet we produced on health reform.

More than two decades later, she’s back. And this time, instead of welcoming 1990s readers to better health care at home and in the community, today she welcomes visitors and clients to NOW at our front desk. (She also keeps us organized, and has the troubleshooting tenacity of a particularly conscientious badger.)

You find out more about Allegra right here.

Thank you, BC teachers (and everyone who supports them)

Thank you, BC teachers

“It took a lot of courage and sacrifice from teachers to get us here. It took the support of working people throughout BC and their unions. It took the support of teachers’ unions from across the country.

“And it took the support of parents, who spoke out in the thousands because they know better classrooms are crucial for their children’s future.

“That support means the world to us, because it comes from our common commitment to improving public education for BC kids.”

The seven deadly diversions pulling you off your message

Photo of a small compassMaybe calling it “message discipline” was a mistake.

“Discipline” makes staying on-message sound like a chore, and going off-message sound like a deliberate choice, an act of rebellion. I’ve had it with your message-box rules, daddy-o. I’m sticking it to The Man.

But often when I talk to a leader or spokesperson who has gone off-message, they aren’t feeling like defiant mavericks.

Either a) they don’t realize it’s happened, or b) they felt helpless in the moment to keep it from happening: “I know the message is about pensions — but before I knew it, there I was talking about giraffe mucus.”

True, we’ve seen a few deliberate acts of rebellion — some relatively harmless, some profoundly self-sabotaging. But far more often, here’s what really throws people off-message: Read the rest of this entry »

Your best stock photo option may be DIY

Cartoon: Woman writing backwards on a window, Help! I'm trapped in an unoriginal stock photo!If you’ve ever had to search for a stock photo, you’re probably painfully aware of just how hard that can be. It’s especially difficult for labour and progressive communicators, because so much commercial stock photography caters to the business audience — which means you’re wading through a lot of smiling faces in boardrooms.

That doesn’t mean it’s hopeless (we use stock photography regularly). But you can do a lot of slogging, and wind up with a photo that only kind-of-sort-of does the job.

What’s the alternative? Becoming your own stock photo house. And having helped a number of our clients set up photo shoots and start building their own libraries, we’ve learned some useful lessons about how to do it.

We’ve distilled that advice for you in our latest NOW How, Build your own stock photo library. We’ll walk you through laying the groundwork and figuring out what photos you need the most urgently, to setting up your first shoot, to keeping your library growing.

Check it out and let us know what you think!

For your Facebook Page, stop thinking News Feed. Start thinking search engine.

magnifying glass on the Facebook News FeedIt wasn’t that long ago that when you posted something to your Facebook Page, you had a pretty decent shot of winding up in your followers’ News Feeds — that stream of stories a user sees on the Facebook home page.

How times have changed. These days, you’re competing against literally thousands of other pieces of content for a precious slot in a user’s News Feed. No wonder one study showed a typical Facebook Page post reaches only six per cent of its followers.

There’s been a lot of gnashing of teeth over this among brands and organizations. Facebook is very consciously reducing the organic reach of Page posts, and holding up paid promotion as a way to close the gap. And while it’s hard not to resent that, Facebook is a commercial enterprise, and a lot of commercial Pages have had a good, long free ride. It would be awfully nice if Facebook gave non-profits and civic organizations more unpaid profile… but don’t hold your breath.

So the days when you had a pipeline to your Facebook followers are gone. How do you adjust? Read the rest of this entry »

It’s not all about you

Man adjusting his tie in a mirrorWe’ve all been there: in that slightly hazy moment of listening to others blather on, while we wonder if they’ll ever stop talking about themselves.

People like this are annoying. So are the people who communicate like this.

No matter who your audience is – members, voters or the general public – they’re more likely to listen if you avoid talking about yourself all the time. And that means talking less about policy and process, and more about people and values. Read the rest of this entry »