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February 2021: Do It yourself



THE INDEPENDENT VIEW: BLack History month Events

Nkiru Asika, our chair, compiles a few excellent resources to ensure you make the most of all that Toronto has to offer during Black History Month.



Last month, PIC member Vanessa Holding led yet another fabulous webinar sharing her expertise on how to use video to keep your brand top of mind. Sue Horner, our director of social media, sums up the best of it.


A Byte of Foresight: When fiction becomes fact

If you haven't read Nina Schick's DEEPFAKES: The Coming of the Infocalype on how synthetic media is threatening to distort our perception of reality, our editor urgently suggests you do.



Nancy Miller, PIC's director of communications, forays into DIY video and shares three things that you can "do yourself" to be a better ally of the Black community.


The independent view: Black History Month events

By Nkiru Asika

Like everything else, Black History Month has gone virtual this year. But there is still plenty to explore and celebrate right here in Toronto. Check out the suggestions below.

1. ByBlacks.com

ByBlacks.com is an online magazine that focuses on the stories of the descendants of African people in Canada. Check out their events page and attend a live concert or Masterclass.

2. Awakenings at the Toronto History Museums

The Toronto History Museum is hosting the Awakenings program, a series of art projects created within Toronto History Museums by Black, Indigenous and artists of colour, operating under the principles of anti-oppression, anti-colonialism, and anti-racism. Experience it all online.

Choreographer Esie Mensah and a group of dancers from "A Revolution of Love," part of the Awakenings series of virtual art projects at Toronto History Museums.

3. The University of Toronto's Anti-Racism and Cultural Diversity Office

The University of Toronto's Anti-Racism and Cultural Diversity Office (ARCDO) celebrates Black History Month with some great programming. If you're interested in the specific health and wellness needs of Black communities across Canada, check out The Black Futures Month Healthcare Webinar Series. It's been co-created to highlight the voices of Black nurses and scholars using strength-based approaches. You can also follow the Black Latinx History Social Media Campaign to learn about the contributions of Black and Afro-decedents to life in Latin America.

We must open the doors and we must see to it they remain open, so that others can pass through. — Rosemary Brown
Nkiru is a marketing strategist with a background as a TV producer and award-winning journalist. She coaches, speaks, trains and delivers online marketing services to help entrepreneurs build their business and authority and is the chair of PIC.
PIC and IABC/Toronto stand firmly against racism. In our online and in-person activities, we aim to provide an inclusive space that is welcoming to all and fully representative of the diversity in Toronto. We see you, we hear you, and we are with you. We also welcome your comments and suggestions on how we can do better. Please email our chair, Nkiru Asika, at toronto-sig@iabc.to.


Six steps to "stop the scroll" with DIY video

By Sue Horner

What stops you in your tracks when thumbing through social media? These days, chances are you’ll say “video.”

At our recent webinar, Vanessa Holding of Arc + Crown Media encouraged PIC members and friends to jump right in. “Video is an easy way to reach a lot of people, share information about who you are and let them know how you can help them,” she said.

Don’t worry about professional-quality productions. “When it comes to social media, what you say is more important than what it looks like,” she encouraged PIC members. “You can absolutely create quality, compelling videos with your smartphone.”

Since she produces professional videos for corporate clients, Vanessa found it “almost debilitating” to follow her own advice . Then the pandemic hit and she had time on her hands. To connect with people and stay top of mind, she created a weekly video using her phone and posted it to LinkedIn. The videos struck a chord. Beyond likes and shares, the videos also led to corporate clients and invitations to appear on a podcast.

You, too, can have video success with your phone. Here’s how:


Think about your clients, not promoting yourself. What are they interested in knowing? What do they need help with? Create an ongoing list of topics to cover.

Try educational videos, with tips or tricks or industry updates. Or do a case study on an interesting project. You could also do a behind-the-scenes view that showcases your talents. Draw people in to want to learn more about what you do. Include your contact information at the end so people know how to reach you.

step 2: Get the gear

Smartphones typically record at a higher quality than a webcam. You only need your phone, but investing in a few extras will make a difference to your viewer. Vanessa suggests the following items:

Step 3: Create a script

Plan what you’ll say, focusing on providing value. Ensure the viewer walks away with practical advice. Aim for at most three points in about two to three minutes. That’s long enough to share real value, but short enough that people don’t have to invest too much time.

  • Create a hook to get attention. Ask a question, share an interesting statistic or make an offer: “I want to share a tip that gets results.”
  • Identify the problem your viewer is facing where you can help.
  • Set up the solution, outlining your insights.
  • Introduce the solution, often as three tips.
  • Summarize your idea and tell viewers what to do next. This could be a call to action, like “if you’re struggling with X, I can help.”

Download a script template and get on Vanessa’s mailing list for video tips.

Step 4: Filming

To look and sound your best:

  • Keep your background simple and neutral; a mostly blank wall is fine. Make sure nothing is around your head.
  • Wear a pop of colour so you don’t blend into the background.
  • Film at eye level or slightly above.
  • Frame yourself so there’s not too much space above your head.
  • If not using a teleprompter, look directly at the camera lens.
  • Be energetic and confident.
  • Ensure your video recording settings are for 1080p HD at 30 fps (frames/second).

Step 5: Editing

Good for you if you know exactly what you’re going to say and can pick up your phone, record, stop recording and upload that one take. Otherwise, you might want to edit. You can hire a freelancer to do the editing, or Vanessa suggests learning how to edit yourself. She recommends the Adobe Premiere Rush editing app. There’s a free trial limited to three exports. Be sure to add captioning (subtitles) so your message is clear even with the sound off.

Step 6: Release your video to the world

Make the most of your video by posting it in multiple places:

  • your website/blog
  • your personal LinkedIn page (add the link to a comment, not in the main post) and business LinkedIn page
  • Facebook, Twitter and other social media
  • your own page on YouTube
  • your email signature and in email marketing/e-newsletters
  • paid ads

Add a hook in your written copy, worded differently from the video, to encourage people to view it. Add a question to get people to engage and comment. If they do, that opens your content to networks outside your own.

PIC members, are you ready to raise your profile, spark discussion, share news or promote a cause with a DIY video? Share your brief video link and we’ll post a selection in our next newsletter.

Not ready for prime time? Vanessa offers an Attract Clients with DIY LinkedIn Videos course for $450, which includes step-by-step tutorials for the filming and editing process as well as two hours of private coaching.

Sue is a writer, principal of Get It Write and PIC’s director of social media.

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A byte of foresight: In deep with the deepfakes

By Nancy Miller

By now, you’ve realized that you can’t trust everything in your Facebook feed. You click on a link “The Evolution of Content Marketing” and Rick Astley pops up singing “Never Gonna Give You Up.” Once again, you’ve been Rickrolled.

But fake news is no joke. Leading up to the 2016 U.S. election, Russian intelligence allegedly orchestrated hundreds of fake Facebook pages and personas to stir up political unrest. On the fake “Army of Jesus” page, Satan and Jesus are having a head-to-head. “If I win,” says Satan, “Clinton wins!” The Mueller report identified fake pages on both sides of the political spectrum. The groups “Stop All Immigrants” and “Tea Party News” trended alongside “Blacktivists” and “LGBT United.”

Throughout the pandemic, more of us are accessing the world through our phones. Information lies in the palms of our hands. Tap the right app, and you get the forecast in Helsinki, the headlines in Tokyo, and the hottest memes trending around the globe.

But “the age of post-truth,” Steven Poole from The Guardian writes in "Beyond Trump: The real history of fake news," “stretches as far back as you care to look.” There has never been “a golden age of perfect transparency.” Misinformation and disinformation are nothing new. But they may be getting more pervasive — and more dangerous.

Nina Schick is a political commentator, advisor and public speaker specializing in how technology is reshaping politics in the 21st century. She holds degrees from Cambridge University and the University of London and regularly contributes to Bloomberg and the BBC. Her new book DEEPFAKES: The Coming Infocalypse is a quick read. But its subject is not easy to digest.

If you’re new to the term, “deepfakes” refers to synthetic media in which the creator has replaced an image or voice in an existing form of media with someone else’s likeness. Unlike “cheapfakes,” deepfakes leverage machine learning and artificial intelligence to manipulate visual and audio content. In cheapfakes, you can tell it’s fake. With deep fakes, it’s often impossible.

Regulatory bodies to detect deepfakes have not kept up with the advances in AI technology. Schick predicts that we are heading towards an “Infocalypse” where AI-generated fake media will make it impossible to discern fact from fiction. Unless we take action, she writes, we’ll be living in a “fucked-up dystopia” of non-consensual pornography, widespread political manipulation and financial fraud.

As a communications professional, it’s tempting to fall into cynicism. “We now exist in an increasingly dangerous and untrustworthy information ecosystem,” Schick writes. But the writer also contends there’s “hope for the future.” How things turn out depends partly on us. “Be careful about what information you share,” she advises. “Verify your sources. Correct yourself when you get something wrong. Be wary of your own political biases. Be skeptical, but not cynical.”

If you’re interested in learning more, read Schick’s new book. It lays out “what you urgently need to know” and lists resources to help fight against the threat of disinformation. Visit her website or follow her on Twitter. And keep your comms wits about you!

Nancy is the director of InsightEd, a research, marketing and consulting group that specializes in all things learning.

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Video: DIY is the new black

By Nancy Miller

In her first DIY video for The Buzz, Nancy shares 3 things you can “do yourself” to be a better ally of the Black community.

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Who we are

Professional Independent Communicators (PIC) is a special interest group of IABC/Toronto. PIC's mission is to support independent IABC/Toronto communicators through professional development, networking and marketing. IABC connects communicators from around the world with the insights, resources and people they need to drive their careers and their professions forward.

The Buzz informs members about upcoming events, shares professional development tips from past meetings and keeps us connected.

Editor and Designer: Nancy Miller

Want to suggest a topic or contribute to The Buzz? Write Nancy Miller at hello@insighted.ca

Executive team

Chair: Nkiru Asika | Communications: Nancy Miller | Membership: Kathy Lim | Programming: Judy Irwin, Sharon McMillan | Social Media: Sue Horner | Design: Ilan Sivapathasundaram

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