Archive for the ‘NOW News’ Category

Welcoming our summer students…and building a future for progressive communications

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

Photo of NOW entrance

School’s out for colleges and universities, and that’s great news for us at NOW — because it means some wonderful, talented young women are joining us for the summer. Welcome aboard, Jebet O’Reilly and Delaney Steel, and welcome back, Kayla Meadows and Christine Logan!

I’ve written a guest post this week on the Function Point blog that describes how we work with our summer students. It’s an approach that differs sharply from the experience that, frankly, too many summer employers offer:

…earning little to no pay fetching coffee, collating photocopies or doing digital drudge work until the wee hours. But this shortchanges both students and agencies.

NOW recognizes our summer students as the next generation of communications professionals: for the unions, governments and political and advocacy organizations that make up our clientele, but also for agencies like ours.

Our summer students are talented, passionate up-and-comers who share our values. So we pay them a living wage, and we ensure they get practical experience in the nuts and bolts of communication.

Have a look at the post, which describes how training our students in the apps we use doesn’t just give them software skills; in the case of Function Point, it actually gives them a picture of how our agency operates and how we do great, strategic work. (Full disclosure: Function Point has generously given us complimentary licenses for our summer students.)

Meet the newest NOWster, Heather Fraser… and welcome back, Kristen Keighley-Wight!

Thursday, December 10th, 2015

We’re heading into 2016 with some pretty huge news, and we couldn’t wait to share it with you.

Welcome, Heather Fraser…

Photo of Heather Fraser

As of New Year’s Day, we’re welcoming Heather Fraser aboard as The NOW Group’s first-ever Director of Research Partnerships and National Projects—and our newly-minted Ottawa point person.

Deep understanding of audience is fundamental to great strategy and creative, so we’re thrilled to have someone as thoroughly steeped in opinion research as Heather overseeing our relationships with our research partners. (Any day now, we expect confirmation from the Guinness people that Heather holds the world record for Most Hours Behind the One-Way Mirror at Focus Groups.)

We could not be happier to have Heather’s strategic smarts—forged over 20 years of campaigning—join our team. She creatively fuses communications, research and organization into powerful, effective strategies that move opinion, change policies and inspire people to progressive action.

…and welcome back, Kristen Keighley-Wight!

Photo of Kristen Keighley-Wight

Our apologies to the tenants who work on the floor beneath ours in the Vancouver office: there were a lot of happy dances when Kristen returned from her maternity leave this week. She returns as Director of Creative and Production Services. It’s a new title, but it reflects what she was already doing for us: managing our dizzying array of production partner relationships.

We’ve missed Kristen’s rare combination of creative brilliance, MacGyver-esque can-do attitude and hard-headed organizational smarts. For the past decade, she’s been a big part of our most innovative communications, and we couldn’t be happier to welcome her back home.

We know Heather and Kristen are both looking forward to catching up with you in the new year.

Have a safe, happy holiday—and a terrific 2016.

“There’s a high cost in doing Muskrat Falls wrong…”

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

...there's power in doing it right.The government of Newfoundland and Labrador has sold the massive Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project as a giant leap forward in power generation. But to the people who live, fish and hunt in the area, it represents something much different.

To them, it means flooding 41 square kilometres — and creating a soup of decaying wood and vegetation. The result is an accumulation of potentially dangerous levels of methylmercury, a notorious poison that can cause serious harm to humans, in their fish and other marine foods.

Photo of man in boat leaving shore

Faced with a direct threat to their health and well-being, the Nunatsiavut Government representing the self-governing Inuit people of Labrador set out to build support throughout Newfoundland and Labrador for doing the project the right way. Their message: that Muskrat Falls should proceed only with mitigation measures to safeguard the area’s people and their food, water and land. (more…)

Deeply flattered, Mr. Harper. Really.

Monday, May 25th, 2015

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If so, we’re feeling awfully flattered today.

Here’s an ad we created with the Manitoba NDP during the 2011 provincial election.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fd7kp_zZA_8

And here’s an ad the federal Conservatives have just released, four years later:

There’s a reason they’re using our spot, and that’s because it was very effective in Manitoba. It defined Hugh McFadyen and turned the tide at a time when the NDP was vying for a fourth term and trailing the Conservatives in the polls. It spoke to people’s real concerns about Mr. McFadyen and his agenda of cuts and privatization. And it did it in a light way that people could connect with. That, in turn, set the stage for the Manitoba NDP’s come-from-behind victory.

Whether the Conservative ad will be as effective is another question. We believe every campaign is unique, with its own challenges and opportunities. Copying even a highly successful ad (cough, blush) from a previous election isn’t necessarily a smart approach.

Their best point is that Mr. Trudeau isn’t ready for the job; the more Canadians look at him ahead of the fall election, the more likely it is they’ll conclude he doesn’t have the experience they want in a Prime Minister.

The problem for the Conservatives (and the Liberals) is that there’s a better choice who is ready. Tom Mulcair has the experience, intelligence and understanding of Canadian families to be their Prime Minister. And after the Quebec breakthrough in 2011, and Rachel Notley’s victory this month in Alberta, Tom’s resume may well be the one that makes it through.

Welcome to the new NOW

Friday, March 27th, 2015

Change happens, and we’ve had some big changes at NOW over the past while. New faces. New partnerships. A new head office.

And as of today, a renewed brand: a new logo, a new name and a new tagline. We’re now The NOW Group, and our tagline is “communications creating good.”

Why rebrand? Partly because it’s time: every design grows worn over time, and while ours has stood up far longer than any of us expected, we knew we wanted a change.

And we’re a different company today. The company’s leadership has changed (when the dazzling Ron Johnson retired five years ago, it turns out he meant it!), and we have a nationwide presence with more staff and associates across the country than ever before. We can do more, in more places.

In more ways, too. We’re doing much more training and coaching of our clients’ staff and leaders. Digital has taken on much more prominence, and our online campaigning expertise now sports NationBuilder developer certification. We’ll soon be opening our research facility for conducting focus groups right in the Vancouver head office.

And the work has changed dramatically. Audiences aren’t passive recipients of messages; they collaborate in building your brand and spreading the world. Collaboration is deeply ingrained in our approach: amongst ourselves, with our client, and with their audiences and supporters. Our new name underlines the importance of that collaborative approach—and the team of passionate, experienced professionals we offer our clients.

Which brings us to the things that haven’t changed about NOW… and we’re not just talking about the parallelogram in our logo. We’re coming up on our 25th anniversary next year, and alongside the freshness and innovation, we bring a lot of experience to the table. We’re a modern, forward-looking firm, but we’re still steeped in the values that brought NOW about in the first place back in 1991. Every one of us believes that the forces of positive social change deserve professional, effective communications—“communications creating good”—and we’re committed to delivering on that belief every day.

We look forward to hearing what you think of our new look and our new website. And most of all, we look forward to 25 more years working with you… and creating good together.

Good luck, Kristen! And three big hellos!

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

KristenWe’ve started spring this year with an exciting new adventure for Kristen Keighley-Wight, who is wrapping nine months of production on an actual human being! We wish Kristen and her husband Nate every joy in the world as they wait for their new arrival. We’ll miss her to bits, but she’s returning to us at the end of December—which, at long last, is a good reason to look forward to winter.

Meanwhile, we have a few new arrivals of our own to announce!

ChristinaChristina Day has joined us as our new Production Coordinator, helping to wrangle people, pixels and products into the communications corral. A graduate of BCIT’s Media and Communications Program, she already has an extensive background in TV production (including The Bachelor Canada!) and has helped organize fundraisers for such great folks as Disability Alliance BC and the Coquitlam Variety Show of Hearts Telethon. Which you might think would leave no time to be a competitive dancer, but you’d be mistaken.

CarlaCarla Olson is coming aboard for the next several months as our Agency Producer, and she brings with her years of film and advertising experience. Her ads and videos have told the stories of such diverse clients as the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games, a Crown corporation, an activewear company, a National Historic Site and the Wickenheiser International Women’s Hockey Festival. Her independent short films have received international festival acclaim—with her latest funded through Kickstarter. She has that rare combination of creative vision and hard-headed production smarts, and we’re delighted to work with her.

TrevorAnd Trevor McConnell is joining us as a Strategic and Creative Associate out of Calgary. Trevor’s career spans three decades with some of Canada’s best-known advertising firms. When Calgary hosted the 1988 Winter Olympic Games, Trevor led the brand launch of the Province of Alberta—and developed the province’s tourism brand for the next five years. These days he’s devoted himself to the labour movement, helping unions connect to the public in new ways. We’ve already enjoyed working with him on several projects, and we’re looking forward to many more.

A new office, new faces—and you may have noticed one or two other new things. More on that shortly. 🙂

Four of our clients’ projects are Reed Award finalists!

Monday, January 12th, 2015

There aren’t many stories more compelling than dedicated public-sector workers under attack from governments bent on cutting services and staff. We’ve been helping unions tell—and change—that story in provinces across the country. And this week, four of those stories were honoured by being named as finalists for the Reed Awards, where Campaigns & Elections salutes the best of political communications from the past year.

The finalists include:

Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario: Direct mail

ETFO election postcard

For Ontario teachers, recovery from the Mike Harris era was a slow, painstaking process marked by setbacks and political attacks from the governing Liberals. But even by those standards, PC Leader Tim Hudak‘s agenda of cutting teachers and other school workers was extreme. This piece went into 1.7 million households in swing ridings, exposing the threat posed by Hudak’s plan.

Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario: Web video

This video let us expand on the teachers’ story, explaining how larger class sizes meant less individual attention for students, and making the case for smaller classes. We posted it to YouTube as well as embedding it on the ETFO election website, BuildingBetterSchools.ca.

Ontario Nurses’ Association: Direct mail

ONA election postcard, side 1

ONA election postcard, side 2

Teachers weren’t the only ones targeted by Tim Hudak’s plan. Nurses—already under strain from ongoing shortages—faced the prospect of even heavier workloads, layoffs and wage and pension cuts. This postcard, delivered to 1.4 million households in swing ridings, helped convince voters that Hudak’s plan would erode patient care and put their families’ health at risk.

BC Teachers’ Federation: Campaign website

AFairDeal.ca screen capture

For years, Premier Christy Clark and the BC Liberals repeatedly provoked the BCTF, hoping to trigger a conflict that would swing public sentiment away from teachers. Last year, still riding high on an election victory, the Liberals demanded a 10-year collective agreement locking in the cutbacks and overcrowded classrooms of the past decade. This website, at AFairDeal.ca, helped teachers take the government on, making the most of third-party validation that established both the Liberals’ bad faith and the province’s dismal performance in funding education.

* * *

What really matters, of course, is whether these stories make a difference. And the good news is that they all did.

In Ontario, teachers and nurses helped to defeat Conservatives in all of their targetted ridings. Tim Hudak suffered a huge, leadership-ending defeat as voters rejected not just him, but the conservative public-service-cutting values he campaigned on. And parents throughout BC stood with teachers to a degree that confounded pundits and right-wing strategists alike. The province and the BCTF reached a contract that addresses class size and composition, leaves the teachers’ court victories restoring class-size contract provisions intact, and has a term of just six years, not ten.

We’ll learn who won the Reed Awards on January 23. But as happy as we’d be to see our clients carry home some lovely trophies, we’re satisfied to have helped them tell compelling stories that made a big difference for their members—and the public they serve.

See you at CanRoots East this weekend in Toronto?

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

You should come to CanRoots East. Toronto: Nov. 28-29If you’ve planned progressive campaigns, you know how valuable experience and skills are, whether they’re your own or others’.

That’s the idea behind CanRoots, a gathering of activists and organizers inspired by the New Organizing Institute’s annual RootsCamp. This weekend, NOW is proud to sponsor CanRoots East in Toronto—and if you’re in the neighbourhood, we’d love for you to join us.

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NOW supports the $10/Day Child Care Plan… and we’d like you to join us

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

Newest member of the NOW family and hopeful recipient of $10/day child care (image: sonogram)As a workplace full of parents—and now one parent-to-be—we’re acutely aware of the challenges so many families face around childcare. It’s hard enough to find a facility you trust to look after and nurture your little people. Add in the high cost and the lack of actual available spaces, and it’s overwhelming—even for parents who are adept at being advocates and navigating the system.

Which is why NOW has joined the growing list of businesses supporting the Community Plan for a Public System of Integrated Early Care and Learning—better known as the $10/Day Child Care Plan.

(more…)

Meet NOW’s new Executive Director of Operations

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

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!