February 2014


John Tory IS a feminist

 Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg is a book about how women are socialized in our culture. She writes about how society and societal structures create expectations and attitudes that push women to be less aggressive then men.

John Tory spoke about the issue on CP24 only to have a number of MALE campaign hacks attack him for it on Twitter.

The fact is that John Tory has been an advocate for women for years. John has always made himself available both to me  and to other  business women through Civic Action. I have always found John to be both encouraging and supportive; and to make him out to be some sort of villain, simply because he spoke out about his experience and an issue women face everyday, is a baseless political attack of a man who has dedicated his life to making Toronto a better city.

Those promoting such trash should take a long look in the mirror and think about what they have contributed each and ever day to making Toronto a better city; my bet is that they haven’t given even 1/4 of what John Tory does in one day!


Doolittle hits her stride at the Crazy Town launch, what’s next for Toronto’s new star journalist?

Robyn Doolittle doesn’t like comparisons between herself and Zoe Barnes.

Considering the character’s very different path to success it should come as no surprise that the new face of investigative journalism in Canada would be a bit irked when fans tell her she is just like the fictional reporter from House of Cards. With a quick spoiler warning she stressed to the crowd that the character sleeps with Kevin Spacey’s politician character to get her stories and that is certainly not the case for her.

Doolittle’s full house Ramsay Talk event at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema as part of the launch of her first book Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story focused more on her real experiences in meetings with editors and sniffing out leads from busboys at the Bier Market, the grounded and tested investigative reporting techniques that are easy to forget in a story that is oftentimes stranger than fiction and more tumultuous than anything Hollywood has produced in recent years.

The talk, introduced by organizer Bob Ramsay and featuring Twitter Canada head Kirstine Stewart flawlessly steering the conversation, showcased a comfortable Doolittle recounting the experiences in her life and career that led her to the publication of the book and touting the advances in social media that made the whole thing possible.

I was lucky enough to have Women's Post publisher Sarah Thomson in tow as my 'date' for the evening — the best person to have a laugh with after seeing the term "#Assgate" emblazoned in print for eternity.
I was lucky enough to have Women’s Post publisher Sarah Thomson in tow as my ‘date’ for the evening — the best person to have a laugh with after seeing the term “#Assgate” emblazoned in print for eternity.

My only criticism of the event stems from Doolittle’s preamble where she described allegations that the Star had fabricated the story and made a joke about switching from Gawker quoting Ford as saying Pierre Trudeau is a ‘fag’ or Justin Trudeau being a ‘fag’ to switch things up. My instant reaction was shock. While causing offense may not have been intentional I hope that she takes pause before saying the word again, regardless of her coverage of an incident in which it was spoken by a public official it has absolutely no place in a joke and should be treated the same way as the n-word.

Doolittle has come into her own as a media personality, no doubt fashioned by countless television appearances both in Canada and abroad as the go-to expert on everything Ford. It isn’t difficult to envision a future for the writer in comment if her ease of presence in front of crowds and cameras translates to topics beyond Toronto’s City Hall sideshow.

Robyn Doolitle will continue to promote her new book Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story this week on CNN’s AC360 and the Daily Show with Jon Stewart.


Follow Travis on Twitter at @TravMyers.



Related: New Rob Ford video shows him intoxicated and rambling

Related: Toronto Region Vision: All eyes on the future

Related: LISTEN: WP editor Travis Myers loses it on air over Rob Ford’s homophobia

#TOpoli with Thomson Feb 5: Political Panel on Ford, Hoffman, Bieber & more

Join Toronto’s political panel with Sarah Thomson, Travis Myers, Andrea Houston, and Lyndon Johnson as they go over this week’s biggest political issues in Toronto from the correlation between Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s addiction issues to Rob Ford’s, the Toronto Police’s responsibility to pressure Ford while also watching for his safety and more.

‘Looking’ episode 3 recap: Patrick’s gaffes, Agustin the angry artist, Dom the gay icon


At a big work party on a Naval Destroyer, Patrick decides to forget about Richie, get drunk and have fun. Sailors hand out free drinks and Patrick is in heaven, I think I would be too. A group of co-workers discuss the games they work on and Patrick talks about how he always plays as the female character in his video games, not because he’s gay but because “Women are the outsiders in games and I relate to that”. What gay man hasn’t played as Princess Peach in Mario Kart, or at least as Yoshi the androgynous dinosaur?

After a random man pokes fun at him, Patrick follows him to a side area of the party to find out if he’s gay or not. This man happens to be Patrick’s potential new boss, played by the handsome Brit Russell Tovey. He is in fact gay, but unfortunately, has a boyfriend. “I asked out my boss while straddling a torpedo, and he said no,” after talking to his co-worker, Patrick realizes he needs to apologize to Kevin (Tovey) in order to get on his good side and possibly work with him.

The next day Patrick makes his way into Kevin’s office, asking for forgiveness and explaining while he and his work partner should be considered for the new position. Kevin let’s Patrick know that it would be long days and working weekends, something Patrick doesn’t seem to mind. I don’t think I would mind either if my boss was an attractive gay man with a seductive accent — my boss is an attractive gay man with a seductive Scottish accent and I’ve definitely worked extra shifts for that reason.

At that point Kevin brings up Patrick’s internet usage at work and shows him how much time he’s spent logged in on sites like OKcupid and ManHunt, sites that I still receive e-mails from even though I thought I deleted accounts years ago.  “It seems like all I do lately is give people the wrong impression.” Which is true, we the audience get to see Patrick’s good intentions, but his follow-through is usually pretty pathetic and embarrassing.

Patrick stays up late working on a level of a video game to impress Kevin. The next day when he presents it, Kevin lets him know that he was always going to be a part of his team and that he was just messing with him, a little payback for the other night. Which is well deserved, Patrick needs to check himself every once in a while, other people are not just his play things or video game characters he gets to do whatever he wants with.


Frank brings up to Agustin that his friend has a gallery space and asks if he has any work he may like to show. This strikes a chord deep in Agustin, and his bitchy-backfire hits Frank. He is upset at himself for not creating, and it lingers with him all the way to work where he has a minor blow-up with his artist.

Agustin is finally honest to his boss about her art that he’s been working on and she makes a joke about his lack of work, prompting him to tell her to “fuck off” and ending his position as her assistant. While consoling himself over a piece of cake, he meets a male sex-worker who has no shame in what he does. “This is what I do. If I was embarrassed about it, I wouldn’t do it.” Nothing cures the work blues like a slice of red velvet. “People are into beards,” he tells Agustin, maybe he should consider a new line of work?

I remember when I lived in an artists loft after my final year of Film School and that exact conversation came up with a close friend. You’d see posters all around the city of Toronto looking for “Hot Guys 18+ Needed” and there were times we were so broke, my roommate and I discussed it. It was never actually considered, but we wondered how those types of things work and what the pay was and if it was worth it just so we could buy some nice groceries or a brick of fancy cheese for once. Neither of us ever went through with it, but it was always fun to wonder what a “generou$” date could bring.

Agustin gets extremely defensive whenever anyone brings up his work, his art, or the act of creating. Even Patrick gets cut off quickly when he acts concerned about what’s in store for Agustin. “When was the last time you heard me call myself an artist?” It’s something Agustin never does. When I first left film school, I never called myself a filmmaker, even though it was what I had spent the last 5 years doing. “I don’t think either of us are very good at being who we think we are” Patrick says to Agustin, and he’s right. On his way home, Agustin stares at the sex workers business card, maybe it’s time for him to think of himself a little differently?

Dom is uncharacteristically in a great mood, “I haven’t seen you this perky since you dragged me to see Miss Congeniality” Doris says, something I’ve said to my own roommate a number of times. During a Zoomba class, Dom lets Doris know about his plans to finally open his own restaurant. He feels empowered after his verbal throw down with Ethan and decides to focus all of his energy on this new business endeavour.

He heads out to meet up with an old chef friend to persuade her to jump ship at her job and come on board with him. It doesn’t work out too well, she’s afraid that Dom won’t be able to get the money and that people don’t know exactly what Piri Piri chicken is.

After this letdown, Dom does the only thing that he knows how to make himself feel better, goes looking for sex. He heads to a bathhouse where he is only in a towel the entire time, inspiring me to stick to my New Years resolution and keep working out. He meets an older gentleman and discusses with him the way things used to be, men used to talk in bathhouses, there were discussions instead of just a quick pump-n-go. I like the nod back to the older days, the days when these men had to fight for the rights that the new generation has.

This character seems like a great catalyst for a little more discussion on knowing our gay history, and the men who stood before us to pave the queer way. Shows like this are so important to young closeted gay men. Watching Queer as Folk secretly on Monday nights helped me get through some tough times in high school, so if the show throws in a little history (with it’s spank-bankable sex scenes) it’s a win-win!

Once they get to talking, Dom realizes he knows this gentleman. He owns a florist shop on Castro, he’s “like an institution”. When Dom let’s him know where he works, the gentleman turns it around on him: Dom too is an institution. This hits Dom a little too hard and puts him in feel-better mode. The young guy who has been following Dom around the bathhouse suddenly looks like a great way to forget about his age and escape, but not before making plans with the florist to get lunch sometime. I love the idea of Dom dating someone older than him, that he could possibly see a future with instead of hopping around from boy to boy to boy. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing much more of the florist in future episodes.

Will Dom open his new Piri Piri restaurant? Will Agustin put his beard to good use and dabble in sex work? Will Patrick get a little too involved with his new boss? With the next episode title, Looking for $220/hour, I think we can count on at least one of those coming to fruition.

Follow Brett on Twitter at @AshleyBrett.

WATCH: Trailer for new documentary about the TTC

While Torontonians may get up in arms when it comes to the TTC, whether it be about cancelled plans or transit expansion, it is easy to forget at times that there is a small army of TTC operators who help to make transit in a Toronto a reality every day.

This film, called Moving Toronto: Underground With the Toronto Transit Commision, takes a closer look at the people behind the wheel and on the tracks who keep the trains on time, including TTC bigwig Andy Byford.

Listen to Andy Byford on #TOpoli with Sarah Thomson

The film promises to be, at very least, an insightful look at the TTC’s staff, and can hopefully shed some light onto the day-to-day operations of the system that daily riders often forget about.

The film is scheduled to be released in the fall of 2013.




You can follow Travis on Twitter at @TravMyers.

The push and pull of blog promotion: Part 2

After making progress with the art of pushing blog content to readers, it was time to drag more people directly to my blog. I required readers on my blog in order to increase the odds of collecting valuable feedback about the writing content, and to build momentum for future advertising revenue opportunities. To drag readers to my blog, I employed the strategies of pull marketing, with a ’social’ flare.

Social-izing Pull Marketing

Including the post link in a communication is intended to pull viewers directly to your content. An interest-sparking headline or lead-in prompts the reader to click to follow the content. If the writing fulfills its promise, visitors might be motivated to read other posts and become dedicated followers. If there are ads on the site that entice, viewer clicks may earn income for blog ads that represent a revenue source.

Pulling readers to your blog site provides the opportunity to create more loyal followers and potential for ad clicks. Since most advertising deals pay per click, more volume equals greater revenue. Once a viewer is on your site, they may also ‘like’, ‘share’ and ‘tweet’ your content so that other members of their network learn about the blog. Referrals are a great way to gain new readers. Having the credibility of the source contact increases the odds of connecting with their network audience.

The downside of pull marketing is relying on continued revisits from your readers. Since they will not be receiving an email or RSS feed notifying of the new post, their loyalty must be relied upon. This strategy requires them to make a decision to view each time they see notice of a new post through social media. To increase the odds they will continue to make an affirmative choice, quality post announcements are essential.

With pull promotion, the pitch that entices a reader to click must be enticing and succinct. For example, I recently wrote a blog post asking for opinions about telling my 8 year old how the Easter Bunny really delivers goodies to our home. The other option I have to deal with the truth is waiting until she hears something at school and decides to ask me. My actual question to readers was, “Do I tell my daughter the truth about the Easter Bunny?” My social media pitch, along with the blog link was, “Do I tell?”

Both are truthful, which is vital. A pitch that suggests something untrue about the content will make the reader feel they have been tricked into visiting your blog. The second pitch is more tempting for a wider audience of readers. If a reader is not interested in weighing in on the Easter Bunny decision, there is still the opportunity to entice them with another post on the site, since the pitch pulled them to your vast collection of content.

To push or to pull – that is the question. The answer is both. A balanced combination of both strategies will maximize the outcome. The size and quality of the promotion investment will be reflected in the results. The cost of marketing your blog content is almost entirely human resources. It takes a significant amount of time on the social media sites to organically develop relationships that are authentic.

Each site has its communication methods, language and etiquette. Social media experts debate the pros and cons of repeating content on multiple social media platforms. One point all social savvy individuals seem to agree on is the inevitable importance of these platforms for any business to compete.


Next column: Tweet to Compete

The push and pull of blog promotion: Part 1

How could I grow my blog audience? Outside of the following of friends, family and colleagues, it was time to source methods of attracting new readers. I had been using Facebook for the sole purpose of social connecting. I had registered a Twitter handle months before, but had sent fewer than a dozen tweets. I was intimidated by the new language and etiquette that were quite foreign.

It was time to marry my traditional marketing experience with practical use of social media. I needed to find ways to both get the posts out to readers and bring them directly to the blog site. This stage of “going social” started to feel like I was driving in my own lane again.

I went to my marketing roots for direction. Traditional marketing defines the push and pull strategy as the seller’s push of a product or service to the consumer, compared to the pull of said commodity by that consumer. The push could be a store sending me a flyer to sell shoes, versus my pull of calling the store to inquire about a sale of shiny red pumps.

Social media adds a new layer to push and pull marketing. It drives consumers to action from the convenience of their own computer, tablet or smartphone. Books are downloaded and read without ever visiting the bookstore. Travel is arranged over the internet and via email communications. Merchants for clothing, jewelry and so much more rely on the ability to both push offers to buyers and pull buyers to their sites for instant deals to be closed.

TIP: In this era of immediate gratification, it is more critical than ever for sellers to have a succinct pitch to ignite that deal. After much trial and error, I learned to spark interest in 100 words or less.

Social-izing my push marketing

Posting a picture or details of a promotion pushes product over social media to potential buyers. One may choose to receive information from a supplier by being a Twitter follower or ‘liking’ a business page on Facebook. A seller may expect you are a partially qualified purchaser, in that you have indicated an interest by agreeing to participate.

In order for a prospect to gain qualifications, a seller needs to know if they are interested in the product or service, do they have the authority to make a purchase decision, and do they have the funds to buy. If the supplier has created a “sponsored post” on Facebook or a “promoted Tweet” on Twitter, the audience is unqualified and considered mass market, with which the deal close ratio is much smaller.

I wasn’t ready to invest cash into a sponsored promotion. Since I needed the practical experience with Facebook and Twitter, I invested many hours of my time learning the tricks of the tools. Once the skills started to develop, both sites became rather addicting. Making likeminded connections is a natural activity. Learning to authentically attract followers to push content toward took more time.

Communicating on ‘The Social’ needs to be true to its name, social communication. The conversation is friendly chitchat where people with common interests share thoughts, quotes and resources that might be of importance to the audience. The goal is motivating people to sign up for your blog without sounding like you are begging for followers or being too pushy.

The benefit of pushing content out is the consistency of reader contact. The blogger maintains control of how often content is viewed. It is critical to achieve balance between keeping the audience interested and informed, yet avoiding inundating them with an overwhelming amount of information and risking pushing them away. Empathy is a key quality in achieving that balance. Put yourself in the position of your audience. Does your content offer something beneficial or is it completely self-serving? Followers want to know that they are being put first.

The downside of push marketing is that you are playing on the purchaser’s turf, as opposed to your own. For example, pushing out an email or RSS feed sends the most current content to a reader, but it does not entice the audience with other posts or advertisements that might be seen if the reader was pulled to your own blog site.

Part two of promotion will explore how I went from “being pushy” to dragging people to my blog with pull marketing tactics. Subtlety is not my greatest strength, but I’m adjusting.


Next column: The Push and Pull of Blog Promotion: Part 2