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Event review: Digital Day
Thursday, January 30, 2014 (All day)

How does digital technology affect your writing or communications business?
What digital tools do you use to manage your workflow and collaborate with others?
What are the best ways to leverage social media for your business and your client projects?

These are some of the big questions that were addressed at Digital Day, a professional development event jointly organized by PWAC Toronto Chapter and Professional Independent Communicators, a special interest group of IABC/Toronto, and sponsored by the Centre for Arts and Technology. The all-day event, which took place in Toronto on Jan. 25, featured multiple seminars focusing on key areas in which the digital world intersects with communications, including social media, blogging, search engine optimization, online research, and digital tools.

The day kicked off with a session on social media basics, with Amy Sept of Nimbyist Communications tackling Facebook and Twitter, and me discussing LinkedIn. Sept’s Twitter talk covered the do’s and don’ts of posting, including sharing only one idea per tweet, promoting others more than you promote yourself, and not always share links—it’s also about conversing, not just sharon information. Regarding Facebook, Sept talked about how to conduct searches, participate in or form a group, adjust privacy settings and more. For my LinkedIn talk, I focused on creating a killer headline, play up your communications experiences, asking for and leveraging recommendations, and setting measurable goals for using the site.

Next, speakers Adina Zaointz of Napkin Marketing, Helen Androlia of Draftfcb and Jennifer Shah of FleishmanHillard shared their insider insights on conceiving and developing relevant and impactful social media campaigns for their clients. Their tactics include understanding their clients’ goals, customers, products and influencers; engaging in social listening to determine how a client is perceived in online communities; considering the unique brand stories their clients have to tell; and dividing social media content into relevant buckets, e.g. events, news, and issues. When it comes to working with freelancers, the speakers said they often seek writers with specific skill sets and industry knowledge to contribute to new campaigns or handle overflow work.

In the first afternoon session, we heard from Jennifer Johannesen of Low to the Ground about her ideas and tips for writer websites. Donna Papacosta of Trafalgar Communications discussed why and how a blog should serve as the hub of your content marketing strategy — she emphasized that it should be mobile friendly, and that posts should include photos, videos, audio and infographics. Dev Basu of Powered by Search focused on search engine optimization tricks to make your blog stand out and generate business. He stressed integrating keywords into posts, tagging photos, and sharing content through the right social media channels.

In the afternoon, master web researcher Tim Groves delved into the many different search tools for using Google to get better results, including hard-to-find information and vintage webpages that have been preserved. Each session was followed by a facilitated group discussion in which participants discussed what they learned, shared new ideas, asked questions and networked with each other. The day’s final small-group discussions focused on the digital software, hardware and web applications participants use most in their day-to-day work.

While the ways in which we as writers and communicators interact with the digital world continue to evolve, many of us might feel better prepared to handle these challenges and take advantage of opportunities with what we learned at Digital Day.

If you attended Digital Day, what takeaways resonated most with you? Did you learn anything you can use to immediately enhance your communications business?

PWAC Toronto Chapter blog editor Sharon Aschaiek of Cocoa Media provides communication consulting, writing and editing services to universities, colleges and education organizations, and writes about higher education trends and issues for media publications and websites.

 

- Sharon Aschaiek

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