Thursday, July 30, 2009


I headed downtown last night for the StartupDrinks Toronto event on behalf of Greenscroll; it was at Pogue Mahone, a pub at College/Bay. I'm not averse to the odd Guinness, but not sure if a noisy pub is the best way to try and connect with other startups.

Trying to have conversations with certain people became a bit of a nightmare as I couldn't understand most of what was being said because of the noise. It was also hard to tell who was there because of the event, or just regular customers. I find it a bit awkward to approach someone -- feels like a blind date! -- and prefer to be introduced, but that's me.

I wanted to pick people's brains and learn from their experiences of what does/n't work in getting a new venture off the ground, but came away with a feeling of disappointment that I hadn't achieved that. Ah well, maybe I should have shouted louder.

I like the mesh model of specific sessions, followed by breakout groups and the "on-the-fly" feeling of meeting cool entrepreneurs, finding common elements and then maybe heading on to a more social setting for further interaction.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Twitter Becomes A Search Engine

I like the new Twitter home page, almost seems to be like a search engine. People like to know what other people are talking about so the emphasis on the search box may encourage more to sign up.

Please Tell Me When Good Manners Went Out Of The Window, Thank You

In recent times, especially in this always-on, 24/7, hyper-connected society we live in, I've noticed that people have forgotten how to say "Please" and "Thank You." Even worse, as it shows a total lack of respect, is when you send someone an e-mail -- especially on a professional basis -- and they don't bother to even respond.

Everyone is busy (we get that). And people say that technology has contributed to an over-abundance of information (it has) and the feeling that you have to respond to someone almost immediately to stay in their good books (you shouldn't).

But what I fail to comprehend is why do some people need to be contacted more than once, within a VERY reasonable time frame, before they respond? Shouldn't [mobile]technology make it ultra-easy to simply send a "Got it thanks, busy, back to you soon," or "Not moving forward, please contact us next time," or "Working on it, thanks."

Don't you prefer these curt, respectful responses to none at all, or is it just me that hates to be left in limbo and would rather know either way? Not asking too much? Or am I wrong?

Thanks for reading and please come again.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Freelance PR -- It's Not For Everyone

I've worked with Jodi Echakowitz on some stuff earlier this year, and she's a very smart and capable lady. Her virtual agency is doing well too.

I liked her blog post today highlighting what you are letting yourself in for if you decide to go the freelance PR route. You can read the whole list at her blog, but here's a few of my own I'd like to add ...

It can get very lonely! Sure, it's great to pick the hours you work, and there's no boss looking into your cubicle, and a wireless laptop is a godsend on a sunny day ... but there's also no colleagues to bump into in the office kitchen, or by the proverbial watercooler. Most interaction and brainstorming is turned into virtual, online collaboration. Webcams are fine, but it's not the same as a physical face-to-face chat.

It's up and down for the most part. You have to grab the "up" with both hands, work your arse off and bank some of that coin because there might just be a "down" around the corner.

It's exciting! You never know what is going to pop into your inbox or Twitter account any time of day, or day of the week -- including weekends of course. Being your own boss means always keeping a handle on things, but you have to take the time to switch everything off sometimes (including your brain) and enjoying some R&R. Come back refreshed and your clients will thank you for it.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Lean On Me, Mom Bloggers ... Lean On Me

I've been rushing around the last few days from St. Catharines to Markham, so only got caught up on #prblackout via Danny Brown's ever-reliable blog. Sorry, but I laughed.

From what I can gather, it seems a group of mom bloggers want to snub the PR industry for a whole week in August. That means no reviews, giveaways, blog trips etc.

As one puts it: "While we adore many of our fabulous PR reps and treat them like bloggy friends, our site, and many others, are inundated with hundreds, if not thousands, of product requests each year resulting in massive obligations and deadline stress equivalent to what the General Motors CEO must feel every time he drives into work."

So, they are saying that having to deal with free stuff being thrown at them on a regular basis, and maybe writing about a few of them, is the equivalent to trying to save a multi-billion company supporting thousands of workers?

I feel bad for them, so, being a very helpful chap, am prepared to help out the PR industry for that week in August when the mom bloggers "dont want you to talk to PR at ALL that whole week."

Just send all your free stuff to me, and I will do my best to review it, enjoy the trip, pass it on to Goodwill or just send a polite reply along the lines of "Sorry, maybe next time, but please keep me in mind."

My Free Stuff Department is waiting and ready to accept your e-mails at makejohnnycash AT gmail DOT com or you can entice me with your free stuff at @johncarson.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


A few weeks ago I noticed a tweet from FreshBooks offering a free copy of Entrepreneur magazine. I like free, so I took the offer and got my copy, which featured the CEO and Co-Founder, Mike McDerment.

Anyway, I finally got around to reading the issue today in the laundromat (exciting life of a freelancer) and was pleasantly surprised when McDerment's business card fell out, and also a personal handwritten Post-It note stuck on the article.

Nice touch.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Facebook Almost Enticed Me To Buy An Ad

I love Guinness and feel like its 250th birthday in September should be celebrated, so set up a Facebook event for my friends (and anyone else!) to enjoy a pint of the black stuff wherever they may be.

Facebook did the clever thing and automatically created an ad for me, should I choose to buy it. They made it look nice, and I was almost tempted -- would have been my first-ever Web ad. I like the fact that I could instantly see how it would look without any fiddling around. Made it very easy to click and put some more money in FB's bank account. Win all around.

Guinness fans, feel free to join the event, it's open to all.

The Pentagon Likes Pugs And/Or LinkedIn

Not sure if I should be nervous that The Pentagon read my blog today. Here's the post they read, hope it helped. (Took the IP out.)

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Good news: I recently won $25 in a Twitter contest from Zoompass. Thanks guys!
Bad news: It's been a bit of a drag to try and collect.

It's in beta, so that's understandable, but we're talking about moving money around, and I think there was a mix-up in the process.

Here's the deets:

About a week ago @davefleet informed me that they were going to zoom me $25 after asking what I'd do with the cash. To me, $25 is a couple of Guinnesses (Guinnii?) and a hot dog. Nice, don't get me wrong, but for someone else it could be seed funding for a new life-changing business, so I said Kiva could have it.

So, my cellphone beeped with the $25 notification, and I went to Zoompass to sign up and collect the cash. It was very easy, hassle-free and similar to PayPal whereby they wire a test amount of around 50 cents into your bank account to prove it's you. That worked, so I thought "cool" and tried to move the $25 into my bank.

It didn't work, so then I got a phone call from Zoompass customer support saying that my address didn't match up with something or other (I didn't really understand that part, as I've been at my address for six years) and then an e-mail: "Our records show that our automated identity checker could not match some of the information in your Zoompass profile. In order for us to complete the account information verification, can you please send us one of the documents listed below -- Driver's Licence / Telephone/Utility bills / Bank statements."

I wasn't keen on sending that stuff, so called back and support said it would be OK to forward an electronic bill or something to prove my address. I found an e-receipt from, and forwarded that by e-mail.

Got a reply that it wasn't acceptable, and they needed physical proof. So, the customer support guy misinformed me. No sweat, we all make mistakes, so I got ready to scan my driver's licence and e-mail that.

But I checked my bank account yesterday and the $24.50 was already in there (Zoompass takes 50 cents for a transfer fee) -- so, that was before they had "physical" proof of my address. I also didn't get a reply to my logged problem ticket I submitted ... the money just magically appeared.

That's great in the fact that I got my money transferred, but bad because technically they never actually got proof of my address, or maybe they did decide to accept my receipt as e-proof, not physical.

Anyway, it's a long story, but I think their support or verification process might need to be tightened up a bit as I seemed to get mixed messages as to what I needed to do, and what was actually happening.

Having said all that, @davefleet and the team were very prompt in trying to help me out on Twitter and e-mail, so that's a plus.

And now I can head to Kiva and help someone out, so it all ends well!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Twitter Theme Tunes

Breaking news: I just heard from an insider that Twitter are looking for theme tunes for a possible movie, and the following have made the shortlist:

To Cut A Long Boring PR Pitch Short -- Spandau Ballet
You're So Vain You Probably Think This Tweet Is About You -- Carly Simon
Get Off Of My Hash Tag Cloud -- Rolling Stones
Stop Me If You Think You've Read This Retweet Before -- The Smiths
All The Things She Said In 140 Characters Or Less -- Simple Minds
Still Haven't Found The Monetization I'm Looking For -- U2
Do You Remember The First Fail Whale? -- Pulp

If you get any more tips, please send 'em in!


Just researching how many people click a link with no idea what's at the other end:

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Segal Moves On, Streek Passes On

I heard two bits of news today, one good, one bad. Both about cool people.

Rick Segal used to write a column for a technology newspaper I edited in 2003 called Silicon Valley NORTH. He covered the venture capital industry in Canada, an area I knew nothing about. But I soon learned a lot by reading Rick's articles. He explained the scene in a very informal way, and has always helped me by answering e-mails and questions. A very approachable guy.

Today he announced in his blog that he's leaving JLA Ventures and is hinting about going back into the trenches with a start-up. (That's how I interpreted his post, anyway.)

So, best of luck Rick!

I also read that Martin Streek had taken his own life. He was a former DJ on The Edge, a radio station I listen to all the time in the car.

When I came to Canada back in 2000 we used to hang out at The Phoenix quite a bit. I enjoy playing pool -- the kind where you put $1.50 on the table and winner stays on -- and remember holding the table that night.

This tall, scary-looking dude came up, put his money down and asked to play next. We did, and had a pretty good game, making small talk about music in between shots.

Anyway, I beat the guy -- just -- and we went our separate ways. I had no idea who he was at the time, but my wife mentioned that it was Martin Streek. He was taking a break in between sets.

I know him now though, so wanted to give him a mention. RIP dude.

PR 2.0 Will Double Your Workload

Beth Harte has a great blog called The Harte of Marketing in which she discusses marketing, PR and social media. Today she compares traditional and PR 2.0 marketing.

Here's some snips:

With PR 2.0 you can add the following to your skills, deliverables and job description:
- Monitors brand in real-time
- Listens/Analyzes online conversations or mentions in real-time
- Responds promptly
- Conducts primary research in real-time
- Engages in two-way conversations with ALL constituents (in-house PR folks)
- Participates in social networking in a value-add way (in-house PR folks)

There's loads more good info; the full post is here. A good read.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

LinkedIn's Company Buzz

I am trying out the beta version of LinkedIn's Company Buzz application. It seems to be an obvious play on social media monitoring, so I'm interested to see how Greenscroll is represented.

We haven't actually launched yet, so most of the results are to do with the elections in Iran. Hope to change that soon!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Thanks Canada!

On this Canada Day I want to reflect, take a step back and look at my professional life in this country so far; it’s been a great ride.

I moved here from England in 2000 after getting frustrated at paying 800 pounds a month for a shoebox in North London. Now, I can afford a beautiful condo in Toronto, and am writing this as I sit in the sun on my patio. The summers here are fantastic, the winters are horrible! Still can’t get used to the cold after nine years. And I hate wearing toques, which doesn’t help much.

Before leaving England, I sent my resume to around 10 editors at Rogers Publishing, asking if there were any jobs available. I was lucky enough to get a meeting with HR when I arrived in Canada, and the lady produced 10 of my resumes, which could be classed as spam I suppose. But I was the first content manager in an innovative new department called Bizlink. We helped the trade publications set up their websites, e-newsletters and engaged with readers to drive them to the websites. My Bizlink colleagues were some of the best people I’ve ever worked with, and I still keep in touch with them to this day.

That was followed by my first Canadian editorship of a technology newspaper: Silicon Valley NORTH. It was a great chance to steer my own ship, and I made a lot of very cool contacts in the Canadian tech industry, including the venture capital community. Smart people who invest in the superstars of tomorrow.

Managing editor of was the next step of my adventure. That was party time (how many jobs let you hang out with the Girls?) and helped me grasp the responsibilities of handling a very large portal. Canada? Beer? Come on! It was a “roll my sleeves up” job, and I got to learn about content management, creating blogs and e-newsletters from scratch, and also writing copy for the podcast. We recorded that in the back of the office, most of it ad-libbed, and we reached the Top 10 U.S. Comedy Podcasts on iTunes within a few weeks, which the team was very proud of.

After that, I started my Make Johnny Cash blog as an outlet for finding more work. As a writer and trained journalist, I will always strive to find an outlet for words, in whatever form they may take. It’s my way of communicating.

My next role as acting communications manager at Upper Canada College was one of the most enjoyable working experiences I’ve had in Canada so far. The whole UCC community is one I was proud to be a part of, and I still feel invested in the place and continue to do some freelance work for them from time to time. That was also when I started to apply some social media concepts and proved to myself that if an establishment from 1829 can be successful in online engagement, then anyone can. They just need to start doing it. [That was a plug for my services by the way, had to squeeze that in.]

GCI Canada was my next stop, and I worked with a lot of very committed colleagues to help clients with their social media strategies. I got the entrepreneurial urge then to start freelancing and try to make a go of it myself.

That’s where I stand today. Freelancing is not easy, but the rewards are excellent when you can teach a client how to better their company and brand by using social media. I was actually on a pitch yesterday and it was very rewarding to see the “Aha!” moment as the person I was talking to started to understand more about how they can immerse themselves in this online world, and take the next step into this brave new arena of marketing.

I have to mention Greenscroll too. That is a side project (with two others) that we hope will make people think more about the impact on the environment that the Internet is having. We all use it; it’s time to balance that out and put something back. I am very excited about this project -- it’s a green non-profit that we hope people will want to join up with. Coming very soon!

So, that’s about it. I love the media landscape in Canada, especially Toronto, as I’ve gotten to know a LOT of very smart -- and fun! -- people, and feel like this is the best place to be at this stage of my life.

Thanks Canada.