Surprise and Delight your Customers

We are bigs fans of ‘Surprise and Delight’ marketing. How can you not be? The impact is emotional and powerful. The term is fairly new to the marketing realm, but the concept isn’t and seems to be a tactic for Canadian brands.

Designed to be fun, ‘Surprise and Delight’ is a marketing strategy where companies randomly select an individual or group to receive a gift or experience.

The unexpected “wow” factor, coupled with a personal touch, is what makes marketing human and memorable.

Not all brands have the kind of budget to pull off a campaign on the same scale as some of these examples, but with the right strategy in place, you can create an impression with your customers in creative and cost effective ways.

Here are a few of our fav’s.  These should get the creative juices flowing. Enjoy!


Thanks to a team of merry WestJetters and the power of technology, Westjet showed their customers miracles really do happen with this video. Read their blog post to learn more about the making of this video.

TD Thanking Machine

TD turns ATMs into ‘Automated Thanking Machines’ to create some very special moments for customers across Canada using the hashtag #TDThanksYou


Tropicana brings the sun to the Canadian Arctic after 31 days without sunlight in their “Brighter mornings for brighter days” campaign.


A Coca-Cola delivery truck is converted into a happiness machine on wheels delivering “doses” of happiness in the streets of Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

Honda Loves You Back

In appreciation of  fans, Honda set out to put a smile on a few faces. Watch what happened when they paid the parking fee for some Honda lovers at a recent NHL hockey game.

Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons surprised customers by taking away their senses and inviting them to Get into the Dark. What happens next is an experience with Tims Dark Roast that no one saw coming…

Dove Real Beauty Sketches Campaign

What women in the world didn’t fall in love with this campaign? As women, we are our own worst beauty critics. Dove decided to conduct a compelling social experiment that explores how women view their own beauty in contrast to what others see.  Talk about surprise and delight.

What’s your fav?

Makes you want to go out and surprise and delight your customers right now doesn’t it? What’s your favorite surprise and delight marketing campaign? Share here in the comments.


About the Author
Deanna White has always been passionate about marketing and public relations. Owner of storylinePR, Deanna is best known for taking it beyond the pitch. For building brands & bottom lines with the right channels to share your story.

Storytelling – lessons from my 10 year old

I was recently helping my daughter with some research on a topic for her class presentation. As we googled the subject, I was teaching her how to develop story content by pulling out the salient points on the topic to include in her report.

What I found interesting about the topic, she obviously didn’t with the response…

“Mom, they already know that. I don’t want to bore my audience to death. If I include that, they’ll all fall asleep on me.”

She continued to draw on facts and tidbits she thought her class might find interesting. The fact that she didn’t pull the key elements to the story in chronological order didn’t matter to her.

What did matter to her was that she was telling the story in her own way, creating a story that she thought would engage her audience with information she felt was relevant and interesting.

Image of kids shoes

Wow! At age 10, she already knows the fundamental concept of storytelling.

Put yourself in your their shoes

As this little 360 degree lesson taught by my daughter reminds us, you have to put yourself in your audiences’ shoes… it will give you a new perspective when developing your story. To effectively get your ideas across, you must first figure out who your audience is, what they currently know and what more they want to know.

Then, think about how to guide them from their current knowledge to what you need them to know to get them to respond (call, visit, sign-up). To do this, try answering the following questions:

  • Who is my audience?
  • What does my audience already know about the topic?
  • What does my audience need to know?
  • What questions will my audience have?
  • What’s the best outcome for telling my story? What do I need to say to get my point across?
  • What’s the best outcome for my audience? What do I need to say to get them to act?

Identifying your audience needs will do more than ensure that you write clearly. It will help you create a story that is relevant, engaging and personal, directly targeted to your audience.

Elementary, isn’t it?


About the Author
Deanna White has always been passionate about marketing and public relations. Owner of storylinePR, Deanna is best known for taking it beyond the pitch. For building brands & bottom lines with the right channels to share your story.

Case Study: Think long-term PR benefits

Most businesses engage in PR activities focused on one singular event or announcement in hopes that it will create the kind of buzz they were hoping for, only to be disappointed with the results. In practice, PR should be an ongoing initiative with a strategy and specific goals in mind. This case study is a great example of how that can be accomplished.

Long-term PR Case Study
Because their business produces paper to offer an essential service to their customers, T-Base Communications saw an opportunity to make a difference with a year-long PR strategy and well-planned execution.

T-Base partnered with Tree Canada and American Forests to launch their ‘Planting by the Dozen’ program in an effort to reduce their collective carbon footprint and give back to the earth. For every tree they consumed printing materials on behalf of their customers, they planted a dozen more trees across North America.

Image of hand holding tree with twitter birdPR and Direct Mail
The tree program was announced with a news release to media and to corporate customers through a direct mail campaign that included a branded tree sapling for customers to plant at their home or office.

Social Media
In addition, T-Base invited staff to take part in the tree planting fun. Employees took their potted saplings to various locations on both sides of the border and created an “adventures of a sapling” video to encourage more trees to be planted for every share using the hashtag #tbasedoztrees.

Using the power of social media, T-Base later took the trees to Twitter and asked Twitter users for help in planting more trees. By naming the twitter handle of their own company or a company they wished to honour with a tree, T-Base planted a tree for every tweet. Learn more here.

The result?
On behalf of T-Base’s customers and the companies their social media followers supported, T-Base announced on Earth Day 2014 that they had planted thousands upon thousands of trees across North America with the help of their tree partners.

Beyond spreading corporate goodwill, social and environmental responsibility, the T-Base ‘Planting by the Dozen’ program generated media coverage, created awareness amongst their customers and new business opportunities by connecting their products to a fundamental global issue that everyone could buy into and take part in.

The take-a-way.
Instead of thinking about individual PR opportunities that provide short-term gain, think long-term. Developing a campaign with elements that can be integrated into various channels, (for internal and external customers to get involved in), will create long-term PR benefits.


About the Author
Deanna White has always been passionate about marketing and public relations. Owner of storylinePR, Deanna is best known for taking it beyond the pitch. For building brands & bottom lines with the right channels to share your story.

SEO: How to Drive More Traffic to Your Website

Image of green chairGoogle may not be the only way to drive traffic, but it’s definitely the biggest. Like it or not, your site is affected by Google’s updates or algorithm refreshes, the most recent being Panda 3.0.

If you’re like me, you’re eager to learn as much as possible about SEO in order to drive more traffic to your site.

That’s why I’m thrilled to announce Camp Tech is returning to Ottawa with a new workshop on SEO and we’re giving away a free seat!

You may remember last year, Camp Tech made its inaugural visit to Ottawa with their  WordPress for Beginners training workshop. In an action- packed day, participants learned all about how to customize and maintain their own WordPress site, from pages to posts & widgets to plugins. They’re back on Wednesday November 19, 2014 for another full day of WordPress goodness at the Hub Ottawa.

They have also added a new session: SEO: How to Drive More Traffic to Your Website, a 3 hour training session on the evening of Tuesday November 18th from 6:00 – 9:00 pm. They’ll be covering topics such as how to target keywords, what to include in your content, how to elevate your social media SEO, and how to create content so you can be found online.

Learn about SEO without spending a dime!

As business owners, our ultimate goal is to drive more traffic to our website in order to create opportunities and generate sales. Knowing SEO tactics is one of the few marketing tools you can implement without having to spend money.

Now, with a chance to win free seat to Camp Tech’s SEO: How to Drive More Traffic to Your Website, you can learn how without spending a dime!

Tweet for a seat.

To earn a free seat, simply tweet:

“I want a seat at @CampTechCo #SEO workshop #Ottawa Nov 18 via @storylinePR 

Your name will be automatically entered into a draw for your chance to win your Camp Tech seat for the SEO: How to Drive More Traffic to Your Website training session at The HUB Ottawa on November 18th, 2014, compliments of storylinePR!

You can enter as many times as you’d like by tweeting between now and November 15th. We’ll announce the winner right here on our blog on November 17th. So mark your calendar, (just in case you are our lucky winner), and good luck!

PS – If you can’t use the free seat, pay it forward by telling a friend who could. Check out the Camp Tech site and details of this session as well as the WordPress for Beginners training workshop on Wednesday November 19th.


About the Author
Deanna White has always been passionate about marketing and public relations. Owner of storylinePR, Deanna is best known for taking it beyond the pitch. For building brands & bottom lines with the right channels to share your story.

Forced to unplug and re-connect

Image of cracked iPhone screenToday marks day number three without my iPhone. I’ve read about others who have unplugged by choice and remember thinking to myself that was something I doubt I could adapt to easily.

I’m first to admit I have an unhealthy relationship with my phone. I’m constantly checking email, reading news stories and dabbling in my social media accounts.  My out-of-office message even says that although I’m on vacation, I’m still available. That’s telling. But when you have an accident like I did, cracking the face of my iPhone that renders it unusable, you have no choice but to unplug… and you know what? It wasn’t so bad. In fact, I would go as far to say it was freeing.

My connection to the world had collapsed

Sure, it helped that I was in holiday mode and my days were action packed. Had I not been on vacation in a remote town with no access to solutions, I’m sure I would have handled the situation quite differently. I know for a fact I would not have been as calm, thinking my connection to the world had collapsed and I assure you, I would not have been going on a fourth day without my phone.

Don’t get me wrong, I completely panicked at the sight of my phone – now shards of a glass held only together by its’ sturdy  protective cover. I started exploring options right away from a land line, but after the initial shock, I was forced to accept this unfortunate mishap and I had to remind myself I was on vacation after all – which by definition is: relaxing, enjoying, and kicking back. I decided I was going to take it in stride and enjoy  what was left of it.

So, I guess THIS is what being unplugged is all about

From this experience I was forced to slow down. I convinced to myself, (and possibly out loud), ‘So, I guess THIS is what being unplugged is all about’.  I’ve made a pact to myself; and that is to check my phone less frequently – and more so off hours; to not be slave to every ding or ring I hear and each push notification I see. I am going to focus on the things that are most important to me beyond my electronic world – and just turn the damn thing off. Other than self-admitting my addiction, here are a few things I’ve come to realize as a result of being forced to unplug:

1. Pen to paper.
I started writing this blog post by hand. With a pen and paper  – remember those things? I actually got writing cramps and finger calluses (also known as writers bumps).  I started itemizing the balance of my vacation plans on said paper and making to-do lists. I actually connected my random (and sometimes convoluted) thoughts, instantly feeling more organized. I documented action items to cross off, instead of relying on the ding of my auto reminders – like a microwave announcing dinner is ready. These things are in a paper book that I now carry with me and add to frequently, by writing them down – things I can’t so easily dismiss. It also inspired me to start a personal journal again.

2. Me-time.
Being without my phone, I was a lot more relaxed. It had me reading complete novels in a matter of days, something that would have taken me weeks with the constant distraction of my phone. I realized how much I missed reading. I broke in a new pair of running shoes and went for brisk walks (sans phone) and stopped thinking of where I was going to get my next Wi-Fi connection along the way. More me-time is definitely on the top of my to do list!

3. Real connections.
Most importantly, this experience has me wanting to connect in person; to have face to face meetings and lunches with cherished colleagues and friends. Something I mistakenly confused with a ‘like’ or ‘comment’ to a post as a sufficient way of staying connected. Wrong on so many levels!

When I came home to the city, I wasn’t as frantic to get in touch with the repair shop like I initially wanted to. I’m told that when I do finally take my phone in to be fixed,  it could be another few days before I get it back, and you know what?  That’s perfectly fine.


About the Author
Deanna White has always been passionate about marketing and public relations. Owner of storylinePR, Deanna is best known for taking it beyond the pitch. For building brands & bottom lines with the right channels to share your story.

PR in the high school cafeteria

This is the best description of PR we’ve read in a long time and one we can all relate to…

“Think back to high school. For most of us, high school was full of painful moments of awkwardness, rejection and alienation… like the cafeteria during lunch when you were trying to find a place to sit.

Image of high school cafeteria

Photo Credit:

PR is a lot like navigating that cafeteria minefield… but instead of trying to find a seat at the “cool kids’ lunch table” for ourselves, we’re trying to help a client find a seat where their customers are.

In the business world, it’s the equivalent of representing the mathletes or the theater geeks. In other cases its working with the new kids – companies getting started – but most of the time, we’re helping the shy quiet kid with little or no reputation at all – get some well-deserved recognition and their time in the sun.” – Ed Zitron.

BTW: Ed wrote this book, which is a fabulous read. We highly recommend it for someone starting out in PR.

About the Author
Deanna White has always been passionate about marketing and public relations. Owner of storylinePR, Deanna is best known for taking it beyond the pitch. For building brands & bottom lines with the right channels to share your story.

how technology has changed how we tell brand stories

Who remembers this? It was similar to our first home PC, bulky equipment that required you to dial into a modem number and attach the phone receiver to a coupling device.

Image of old home PC technologyI also remember our first home PC game, it was a text based treasure hunt where you mapped out the adventure in your mind.

My, how times have changed.

My daughter now uses skype to show her friends her latest craft project and connects with her grandparents 8 hours away to help her with her homework. She uses her laptop to find answers to questions and as a science lover, discovers new and exciting creatures that live half way across the globe through Google images.

I remember watching this commercial and thinking this was sci-fi stuff and how I would never see these things happen in my life time.

That was about 20 years ago. If you think back to vintage commercials, you will find companies like this one ahead of their time in creative storytelling. Funny how advertising has gone full circle to storytelling through content marketing.

Are you telling your brand story?

With social media, we now have so many options to tell our brand stories. Video is great for doing so and up until now, it has been price prohibitive for small business to get in the game. I stumbled across this article that provides a few options for affordable, online video-production services. There are many others – but the key is in the concept and delivery.  Perhaps it’s time to get out a pen and paper and start drafting an old-fashioned story board to get the creative juices flowing.

What’s your favourite storytelling video of today or yesterday? There’s no shortage of inspiration out there!

About the Author
Deanna White has always been passionate about marketing and public relations. Owner of storylinePR, Deanna is best known for taking it beyond the pitch. For building brands & bottom lines with the right channels to share your story.