PIC Newsletter - January 2015
Hope you enjoy the latest edition of The Buzz!

More on mentors from the PIC chair, Sharon Aschaiek

What's new with PIC in 2015 is an informal mentoring program, which we briefly mentioned late last year.

The purpose is to help PIC members who are new to independent communications better establish themselves and grow their businesses by accessing professional insights and advice from the more seasoned communicators in our group. At the same time, we hope participating mentors will enjoy the rewards of sharing their knowledge, and perhaps might also learn some new things along the way.


In the spirit of helping PIC mentoring participants make the most of their relationships, I spoke with Shawn Mintz, who heads MentorCity, a free online mentoring program for individuals and organizations. Shawn is the author of the free e-book, How a Few Minutes With the Right Person Can Change Your Life.


How useful can mentoring be to a new independent communicator?

It's important to have a mentor or several mentors. Each mentor may specialize in a different area, such as writing features, news releases or how to grow a business. A mentor will help them by sharing insights and experiences, and will be a sounding board.


What should people in a mentoring relationship consider when establishing the terms of their arrangement?

For a structured formal mentoring relationship, the mentee and mentor should discuss the mentee's objective and goals, and the overall expectations of the mentoring relationship. This includes how they will meet (in person, over the phone, video conferencing, etc.), the length of the relationship, the frequency of meetings and how they will handle confidential information.


What are some key ways to ensure a mentoring relationship is productive and beneficial for both participants?

The mentees should come to every meeting with a clear idea of what they would like to achieve, and the questions they would like to ask. Each meeting should start off with some small talk and an update on the progress made. They will then focus on the mentoring activity (purpose of the meeting). To wrap things up, the mentee should summarize the conversation and action items, and schedule the next meeting.


What should people absolutely avoid doing in a mentorship relationship?

Don't expect mentors to open up their network to you right away. It may take time to build trust -- once trust is built, then they will be more likely to share connections and opportunities.

Don't provide mentees with the answer when they have a tough decision to make. Ask them good questions to guide them in making a decision on their own.


How can a mentee ensure they make the most out of the advice they gain from a mentor?

They should determine the good advice from the bad, then start integrating the good advice into their life right away. The more advice and lessons learned they put into action, the stronger they become.


What can a mentor do to ensure they are of value to their mentee?

Mentors can invite their mentees to attend professional events with them, they can role play scenarios, provide feedback, recommend great books, and refer them to people in their network who can also add value.


Are you interested in participating?

Our approach to this initiative is to mainly act as a connector of interested participants. If you are a seasoned communicator who would like to share your expertise with a newer member of the profession, or you are seeking guidance to help you establish your new communications business, let us know. We'll connect aspiring mentors and mentees with each other, and let the pairs work out the details of their mentoring relationship.


So far, we have one mentorship match under way, and anyone else who's interested may contact me atsharon@cocoamedia.ca.

Continued success,

In This Issue
A message from the PIC chair
Feb. 4: Step in out of the cold
Feb. 5: Social media workshop
Jan. 29: Writeup next issue
March 5: All about pricing
Welcome new member
Meet you at the Marketplace
Update your profile
Meet Kendell Duthie
Explore the PIC blog
Quick Links
Newsletter archives
Join Our Mailing List!
We want your talents!
Tidbits of knowledge
PIC 2014-2015 Executive
Feb. 4: We're Canadian! Winter can't keep us at home

Step away from the keyboard and brave winter's cold to get together with fellow indies for an evening of networking. We're back to party where the stars play, on Wednesday, February 4. Join us upstairs at the bar at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King Street West in Toronto, from 7 p.m. onward.

Find out what your fellow indies are planning for 2015, make some new connections and renew existing ones. It's pay-your-own-way for drinks and snacks, so you're in control if you need to stick to your post-holiday budget or diet.

Help us reserve enough space for everyone by letting Jane Langille know you'll be there.

Feb. 5: Last call for the hands-on social media workshop


Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Centre for Social Innovation (Innovation Lab, 4th floor), 215 Spadina Avenue, Toronto


Are you tired of trying to figure out social media on your own? Would you like to get your burning questions about the WHY and HOW of social media answered? Do you want to get better at integrating social media into your day-to-day work so you can meet your goals?

Then come to this workshop with PIC member Donna Papacosta of Trafalgar Communications, where you'll learn more about: 

  • The importance of having a communications/marketing strategy
  • Blogging for business
  • Becoming a Twitter power user
  • Making the most of LinkedIn
  • Using Facebook for business
  • Advantages of GooglePlus
  • How to save time by using smart automation tools for posting to social media.


Fee: $259.99 + HST (PIC members receive a 15% discount by using the code iabc2015) 

Find out more details and register here.  


Jan. 29: Writeup coming next issue

Find out all about the fascinating sold-out January 29 talk with digital marketing expert Mitch Joel next month. Our heads are still spinning!  


March 5: A panel discussion on PRICING

Thursday, March 5, 2015, from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Metro Hall, 55 John Street, Toronto, Room 308 (closest subway stop: St. Andrew Station)


Pricing. It's a perennial topic because we deal with so many unknowns at the start of any communications project. Bid too high and you may lose out on the gig. Or price yourself too low, win the job, but then feel bad that you left money on the table. What are the best practices to strike the right balance? How can we make sure we win more projects and are paid fairly for our work?


We've lined up three great speakers to tackle the topic of pricing on the evening of Thursday, March 5. Our speakers are:

  • Sharon Aschaiek, principal and chief writer at Cocoa Media, who provides writing, editing and communications consulting services
  • Randal Boutilier, principal at 12thirteen, a design company that focuses on promoting effective design solutions for the public and not-for-profit sectors
  • Dorothea Helms, owner at Write Stuff Writing Services and The Writing Fairy, who provides freelance writing and editing services, keynote speaking and workshops to help writers flourish.

These experts will cover many aspects of pricing communications jobs effectively, including how to shift from hourly fees to project-based fees; dealing with scope creep; raising rates; estimating effectively and more.


Networking 6:30 p.m. to 7:00 pm

Session: 7:00-8:30 p.m.


Registration fees*:

IABC members: $16 ($18.08 with HST)

Non-members: $26 ($29.38 with HST)


*Please register and pay for this event in advance. Sorry, we can't accept payment at the door.  

Remember, to keep costs down, we no longer have refreshments at PIC meetings. To give you time for a quick snack before the meeting, registration and informal networking will start at 6:30 p.m. (half an hour later than previously), and the panel discussion begins at 7:00 p.m.

Welcome new member

Katherine O'Brien
Katherine O'Brien Communications
Katherine is a skilled writer-editor who helps organizations tell their story with a full range of editorial material, including articles, press releases, web copy, and more. She specializes in education and training, careers and industries, health care and social services.

Meet you at the Marketplace

Is your business listed on IABC/Toronto's Marketplace? The price for one year is a bargain, with PIC members able to post an ad for just $75 for the first category (non-members pay $150), and just $25 for each additional category.

Your business listing includes your website URL, an email link, your company logo and a short (60-character) text description that links to a longer 950-character profile. The categories include PR, writing & editing, graphic arts, photography services and more.

For more information and to book your listing, email the office at toronto-info@iabc.com.

Is your PIC member profile up to date?


As a member of PIC, you can promote yourself at no charge in the PIC directory, located on the IABC/Toronto website. Yes, it's f-r-e-e! Make sure you're taking advantage of this chance to share key details about your services.


If you want to add to your existing profile, or create a completely new one, get in touch with PIC's Director of Membership & Events, Sohini Bhattacharya. Sohini keeps a running list that she shares with IABC/Toronto every quarter, using your name, company name, location, email address, telephone, website, blog and a brief description of your business (up to 35 words). 


PIC Personalities
Meet Kendell Duthie

Kendell Duthie's business, Kendell Duthie Communications, offers professional and corporate communications consultation and execution. Her specialties are writing, editing, planning and advising to help clients articulate their stories with clarity and creativity. Reach her at 416-828-0535, kendellduthie.com and kendell@kendellduthie.com.


When did you launch your business?

I went on my own in September 2014.  


How did it come about?

My background is in corporate communications in the legal sector, in New York and London, UK. I focused on internal communications, writing and editing for the web, marketing and advising senior management on communications strategies in times of change or crisis.


Clear, consistent writing and accurate editing is the cornerstone of any communications strategy. Working for lawyers was valuable training, since they are notorious for spotting the one missing period in a 50-page document.


We moved to Canada two years ago and I did a post-grad certificate in public relations and corporate communications at Centennial. With two children, one four years old and one 18 months, I decided to try balancing a freelance business with being a stay-at-home mom. The idea is to try it at least part-time for a few years, and then expand the business when the baby is in kindergarten.  


What type of work are you doing now?

I was lucky to get a client before I even actually had the business! I was referred by a Centennial connection to a law firm in North York that was looking for freelance marketing assistance.


I write client-facing material like brochures and websites, and do some social media and content generation for a couple of clients. I also help clients think about their marketing plan -- who they're trying to reach and how.


What do you enjoy most about being an independent?

Definitely the flexibility is crucial at this place in my life. I'm glad I can do this part-time, not "just" be a stay-at-home mom.


I also enjoy the variety. I worked for law firms for 11 years, so it's nice to have more variety in client base. It's also great to share the expertise I learned in those jobs with smaller clients who might not have full-time communications help. I'm doing some blogging for a massage therapist, for instance.


What don't you like about being an indie?

There mostly isn't anything I dislike. Because I have young children, I'm constantly juggling my professional and personal life, but I wouldn't change that.


What advice would you give someone new to independent life?

I'm not a seasoned indie yet, so I don't feel I have much advice to give. I will say that it would have been much harder to start up without that first client. Also, it's clear that a website is important, to show potential clients samples and links to work you've done. (Having said that, I'm still not finished with mine!)


How long have you been a PIC member and what value do you get from your membership?

I joined IABC as a student about May 2013. My membership lapsed for a few months while I was figuring out what to do next, then I rejoined in September 2014. I had heard about PIC and joined right away. One of the reasons I joined was to meet other people doing similar things. We don't have the camaraderie of an office, so it's nice to have this networking group.


We count more than 160 members in PIC, offering a range of talent from coaching and media relations to video production and writing. Do you know everyone? Our PIC Personalities feature introduces new members and randomly profiles existing members. Let Sue Horner know if you'd like to be profiled and she'll be in touch to set it up! You can find previous PIC Personalities posted online. 
Need help with some aspect of the independent life? Check out the PIC blog

Check PIC's IABC eXchange site, listed upper right as "PIC Toronto blog," for the information you need to help you start, run and grow your business. You'll also find past PIC event reviews, promotional podcasts and previously featured PIC Personalities, and you can download the report on our 2014 fee survey.

IABC is transitioning away from the eXchange platform, so we're working with the Toronto chapter to move our content elsewhere. In the meantime, if you run into any snags, please let Sue Horner know.

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. 
The Buzz is PIC's e-newsletter, intended to inform independent communicators about our activities, share professional development tips from past meetings and keep us aware of what's going on. Connect with us on the web at pictoronto.com.

As the largest chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators, IABC/Toronto provides access to products, services, activities and networking opportunities in Toronto and around the world. IABC helps people and organizations achieve excellence in corporate communications, public relations, employee communication, marketing communication, public affairs and other forms of communication. For more information, visit the
IABC website.

Sue Horner                                                           Heather West   
Director, Communications - PIC                              Copy editor