Friday, April 18, 2014

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My family at the Meet and Greet session before the Harlem GlobeTrotters show at Budweiser Gardens in London, Ontario
 When the Harlem GlobeTrotters come to town you know it. Their shows are always entertaining and sheer fun, with a strong hit of audience interaction. As a Mom I love that my kids enjoy watching the talented basketball team perform trick shots and whoop it up playfully for the crowd. I also enjoy seeing that they give back. When the Harlem GlobeTrotters come to town they make the rounds, usually visiting hospitals, doing radio call in shows and interviews and they often do a quick Meet and Greet at the YMCA. The Harlem GlobeTrotters Smile Patrol is their community outreach hospital visitation program and they also promote anti-bullying programs as well as healthy activity and play time for kids. That is inspiring for kids and families. 


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See the big happy smiles on their faces? These girls were looking forward to seeing the Harlem GlobeTrotters show for a couple of months now. They recalled seeing the GlobeTrotters two years ago at Budweiser Gardens and it was incredibly funny and exciting. The show is always extremely theatrical. This year we attended as PTPA (Parent Tested Parent Approved Brand Ambassadors) and we were extremely fortunate to do the Meet and Greet before the show. We met Doc Anderson and T- Time Brawner, the tenth girl in the history of the Harlem GlobeTrotters to ever play with the team. Both of the players told the girls where they were from and where they each went to university. Ainsley, 10, who loves basketball, got her ball signed by several players. She was thrilled to see T-Time Brawner, number 6, and hollered encouragement the entire show at her: "You can do it T Time." "Try again."

I asked my basketball loving girls this morning what their favourite part of the show was.  For Ainsley it was: "T-Time." For Payton: "Too Tall." Too Tall is pint sized, five foot twin inches tall, but he is all energy. During the show he climbed up the basketball net and stood on the rim while dancing and clowning around. When asked to Get Down, he proceeded to break into a silly dance.

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You don't have to know that much about basketball to understand the 2014 Fans Rule Harlem GlobeTrotters World Tour. This year the fans truly rule and can click to vote on the rules of the game. Each vote counts. During the game the players then perform whatever the winning rule is. Fans can choose trick shots, Make or Miss, Two Ball Basketball and Hot Hand Jersey. There are a few other options too. Vote for the game rules here and watch the players perform them when they visit a city near you. My kids and I voted for Trick Shot Challenge. That one is the most fun to watch.


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For more information about The Harlem GlobeTrotters you can find them on all relevant social media platforms. In fact T -Time and I have been tweeting back and forth already. I love that the GlobeTrotters are up to speed in more ways than one. https://twitter.com/globies ... https://www.facebook.com/HarlemGlobetrotters ...https://www.youtube.com/user/hrlmglobetrotters ... http://instagram.com/harlem_globetrotters

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I am a PTPA brand ambassador and as such I receive special perks. My opinion is all my own. We had a great night at Harlem GlobeTrotters World Tour.

The Globetrotters continue their 2014 “Fans Rule” tour throughout the U.S. and Canada through the end of April. In all, Globetrotters’ tour will visit over 250 cities. Check out their schedule at http://www.harlemglobetrotters.com/tickets. Save $7 off each ticket by using the promo code “PTPA” when you make your purchase. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Shutterstock photo - paid for by me - copyright - Sign N Symbol production

Today I am feeling ranty. And a little bit stabby. But yesterday was worse.
Let's start with the why. Yesterday, I landed two amazing absurd, totally missed the mark, offers to blog about dental products. They came from two different boutique PR agencies. Well, clean teeth and healthy living are subjects I love to write about actually and I am heading to the dentist this evening because I have a sore tooth and it's that time of year. The teeth cleaning time of year. So I read the emails with some interest. Because everyone can relate to dentists, teeth, and teeth cleaning issues.

Tonight, though when I go to the dentist I am going to try something different. I think I will leave my wallet at home and take a tube of toothpaste with me to pay my dental bill. Then, I will try to give the dentist another tube of toothpaste when my daughter finishes. That should spare my Visa card. After all it seems fair, right? Fair trade for service rendered. Clean teeth all done for another nine months usually costs me at least $200 each. You'd do the same, right? Pay people in toothpaste. I mean what does a dentist need more than toothpaste? He must be dying to get his hands on some. Just last week I was driving around town in my horse and buggy with my chickens ready to pay the shopkeep downtown. So toothpaste and toothbrushes make sense as currency to me. 

Pitch number one yesterday:

Here is a great guest post about tooth decay provided to you for free. 
For additional product information or a sample of  XYZ Toothpaste, editorial media may contact Charlotte for a sample tube of this all natural fluoride free toothpaste.

This was pitch number two yesterday:

Obviously Easter is all about chocolate, candy and treats, which are filled with sugar, sugar and more sugar -- and can lead to cavities. Let your little ones enjoy the holiday, but after the festivities are done it’s important to implement a “Candy Rehab” to get those youthful gums and teeth in tip-top shape. 

I would like to send you samples of X toothbrush. You can share this information and review with your audience. (Your audience will love this generic prewritten impersonal post about getting kids to brush their teeth.


There were other various really poor blogger outreach efforts yesterday and even a sad attempt by a former client to have me give them a blueprint for running a twitter party for free. Over the years these have added up in my trash box. 

Dentists don't work for free and neither do bloggers or social media strategists. Most businesses don't work for free. Have you ever taken out an ad in the newspaper and suggested to the ad department you would send them a tube of toothpaste? No? I didn't think so. I wrote a post about this last year. Before You Ask Bloggers to Write for Free. Then I wrote another one because companies still were not getting the message.  Five Reasons Why Your Blogger Outreach Program is a Fail

A few months ago I got a suggestion from several public relations teams that I might want to post reviews for dog products. Now what's wrong with that? Well, I don't own a dog and I never have. (save for a six month period in grade 11 when I bought my brother one that broke our fence and pooped all over and eventually went to a family with a big backyard that knew something more than I did about raising dogs.) I digress. The dog blogger campaign ask was really great also because everyone that wrote about the products could be considered for a potential prize of $100. One blogger would win. One blogger would also get a badge to place on their blog. So imagine that you showed up for work at school as a teacher and you competed for who taught the best lesson and at the end of the day one of you got paid. Out of 14 employees.

Recently a great friend of mine and a funny lady about town Mara Shapiro (ChickyMara) and Be Nice or Leave, Thanks! was asked to write about a major tourism destination for the honour of using their hashtag. #PRfail. So now apparently we are also trying to pay people with hashtags? That was a trick I hadn't yet seen. 

I have seen a lot of great pitches in the last year. I have had some amazing clients and fantastic opportunities and I love the work I do. I have created a program and I have built several successful blogger outreach campaigns over the last two years. Each one is different, targeted to different audiences with distinct goals and a well thought out strategy in mind. Each one of these programs represents countless hours of nurturing relationships so that a business partnership is formed. The R O I is measurable and fast. This ROI  is also often generated for an extremely long time. A well done sponsored blog post, or a well done promotion, can bring traffic for years. Right now there is no way for your brand to connect effectively and efficiently on line. Ask yourself where do people consume media right now? The average person checks their mobile phone around 150 times a day. People get their news from twitter, their referrals to brands and products and information from blogs, and they connect with genuine experiences on line. Not to mention some of the best writing I have seen in the last two years has been done in the on line space. For instance, this post One by Karma. Perfection.

Blogger outreach is an art when it is done well. When it isn't done well it is a waste of money. I run a a business. I contract people to help me with that business and here's the trick, the top secret key to the kingdom of on line influencer marketing programs - lean in, listen really close, YOU CAN'T BUILD True Influence WITH DOG FOOD OR TOOTHPASTE OR HOT DOG BUNS. You can;t build relationships or strategy or business with those either. Feel free to connect with me when you are serious about social strategy. I am on Linked In as Paula Schuck. I am here as well inkscrblr@rogers.com.


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I am an on line shopper. I don't have time to run around from store to store comparison shopping. I need my shopping experience to be as efficient as possible. We moved this winter to a bigger home. We jettisoned a lot of old furniture and clothing and we need replacement items for our growing family. I hit several furniture stores in London, Ontario shopping for my daughter's new dresser and night table to match her bed purchased ten years ago. I did not want white or cedar or maple, or pine. I needed off white. Finally I found what I needed on line. I am still seeking just the right tween bedding set that doesn't scream pretty pretty princess because we are past that stage. There are numerous options at Walmart.ca. From character bedding to Bed In a Bag sets and a Youth Zone line, there is a bit of everything to suit everyone's taste. This week we are hunting for patio furniture.
WalMart.ca is one of my favourite fast resources for on line shopping.
There's everything from clothing to video games and shipping is free. Plus you can shop in your pyjamas.

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I am shocked at the range of options actually. I have been looking in the wrong stores for this stuff obviously. I can save about $1000 by purchasing a new conversation set, or a lounging set at WalMart.ca.


This is a Wordless Wednesday post. I am rarely wordless. Which set do you like best? I adore the sectional.

Disclosure: I received compensation for this post. My opinion is all my own.



Monday, April 14, 2014


There is something about Spring time and Easter that brings to mind fresh starts. The windows have finally been thrown open here after a long winter and we are enjoying being able to take walks, riding the bikes, and being able to explore our new yard. This year we will be starting new Easter traditions in our new home. There's something exciting about that also.

Kinder Surprise has been a big part of our last few Easters. I have been a Kinder Mom for about three years now. I love Kinder Canada for a few reasons. First of all I can share them with my nieces and nephews and not worry about their peanut allergies. (everything but the mini eggs). My kids can take them to school and share them as well. No worries about other children getting sick, or having allergic reactions. I love that Kinder is all about encouraging play. This month has been insanely busy here at work and the other day I cracked an egg open to find a toy car inside, which led to me playing for five minutes with a car in the middle of my work day. That reminded me how important play is to everyone, at every age. Every year Kinder comes out with an Egg Hunt Kit. I love that. Madly. Egg hunts are traditions carried over from my childhood. Back when I was a kid, we found jelly beans my Easter Bunny (Mom) hid. She maintained this tradition for many years longer than she probably needed to. I know she did it even when my brother was in university. 

For the past 4-5 years, some friends and I, have done an Easter egg hunt with our adoption group. It's part of the social component of our group, meaning every year we take some time to get our families together - not just Moms or Dads, but the kids too. That's important. In years gone by we had Easter egg hunts at someone's home. We had a field that someone donated for the afternoon event and that was a great time for everyone. Who doesn't love an egg hunt? One year we invited everyone to our backyard and that was a lot of fun too.

But this year we moved. We now have a yard with a pool waiting to be opened and that's not so conducive to an outdoor event right now. Also the kids are getting older, so we are all still trying to determine how the social event and the egg hunt will grow with us. Our kids are not so small anymore. Many are tweens, like mine, who might rather be helping the little ones gather their eggs than hunting for them on their own. 

I have a few ideas though. I can still do the Easter egg hunt for my own girls. I think I might just revamp it to give it new energy this year. On Ainsley's birthday we tried a scavenger hunt through the house to find her birthday present (Katy Perry concert tickets) and that caught on like a barn on fire. She loved it. So, maybe this year I hide fewer eggs, but I make them all contingent on finding a clue and putting the pieces of a scavenger hunt together. And this year I think my adoption group might host a low key social affair. We can still celebrate with Kinder Surprises after we have an afternoon at the park, or the museum. 

No matter how the event evolves Kinder Canada is always there to share the day with us. For more details and to enter the regular deals and contests Kinder offers, visit the Kinder Canada Facebook page. As a parent, I appreciate also that some kids can't be home for Easter. Kinder has partnered with Children’s Miracle Network and will be providing 12 baskets to  CMN hospitals.  As well, Kinder® will be donating another $25,000 to help support this non-profit organization dedicated to saving and improving the lives of children by raising funds for children’s hospitals across North America. 

Disclosure: I’m part of the Kinder® Mom program and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.

Sunday, April 13, 2014


Last Thursday, Ontario's Minister of Health and Longterm Care Deb Matthews announced that public funding would be made available for in vitro fertilization. IVF funding is part of the draft budget officially. The funding will take place starting in 2015. An advisory committee or board will be appointed to help roll the program out. There will be $50 million a year and it will service 4000 people. That's a victory in so many ways for so many people wondering how do I pay for in vitro fertilization. It's a huge step for those struggling with infertility because the announcement clearly illustrated that the Liberal government of Ontario views infertility as a health condition. 

For 1 in 6 struggling with infertility this is huge news. Conceivable Dreams has been advocating for this funding for 6 years now. This week they celebrated that victory. There is more work ahead in partnership with the Ontario government. There are many details to figure out and many questions from patients regarding what this new expanded program will look like.

But this week infertility advocates and patients in Ontario like Danielle Xavier, who started trying to conceive at 25 and struggled for five years, have hope.

Infertility impacts 1 in 6. There are numerous causes of infertility. Sometimes infertility can look like this - Carla has PCOS (poly cystic ovarian syndrome )and had trouble conceiving because of that health condition. But the repercussions to society are greater than that number. 
Public funding for IVF is a policy that will benefit everyone. Because infertility impacts everyone. Employers, families, grandparents, and the health care system as well. On Thursday morning when the announcement happened I woke up to dozens of infertility patients emailing me and tweeting, many of whom were crying happy tears. Some who were overcome entirely. Many recognized this is their last chance at building family. I wanted to share a few of their reactions here today. Because this is a hopeful group and this announcement has given them hope for a future. I don't have to tell you how priceless that is.

Conceivable Dreams members reacted this week:

"IVF coverage means that I can have the family I always dreamed of without going into enormous debt first and It means I can get medical treatment for a condition, that neither myself, nor my husband have control over."
-          Melissa LeverreLondon, male factor infertility
 "When your fertility doctor tells you IVF is your only hope...you feel defeated. And when he hands you a list of what IVF is going to cost you, including meds, admin fees, and procedures, you feel hopeless. Public funding will bring us hope again."
-          Christine and Terrance ThwaitesMississauga
"We drove six hours to the fertility clinic and we worked multiple jobs to pay for IVF. We hope nobody else has to go to such extremes to afford a family."
-          Kayla and Kevin RoySudbury
"Public funding of IVF means relief.  When working with a diagnosis that is time sensitive, there is no longer an unnecessary wait while the patient saves up the funds."
-          Rebecca Brooks, Kitchener, premature ovarian failure, trying to conceive - 6.5 years
"We are still paying off debt from our first attempt at IVF. Public funding means that we don't have to go into further debt to try again. We don't have to give up hope of becoming parents."
-          Sandra DavidToronto, male factor infertility due to Cancer
"Following many failed fertility treatments, with debt and heavy hearts we decided to close that chapter and move onto adoption. Public IVF funding will give many the ability to keep reaching for their dream, to have a family, that without funding might not be possible."
-          Michelle PleiterListowel, severe endometriosis
"My husband and I recently celebrated the birth of our daughter. This has completely diminished our savings. Public IVF funding gives me hope other families won't have to go into such debt to have a child."
-          Stephanie and Mike MauroPeterborough
"We tried 12 procedures, including 3 IVFs of our own and have transferred up to 4 embryos at once because we were desperate and couldn't afford to do them 1 at a time. That was a very scary decision to have to make. Nobody should have to be put in that position."
-          Carly WeinerToronto, male factor due to Cancer, and unexplained female factor
"I feel gratitude every day to be the mother of a boy, now 2, conceived through IVF. However, the process to become parents cost us $28,000 in treatments and four years of heartache. It also saw us making risky health choices in order to save money. With publicly funded IVF, today's infertile couples won't have to endure what we did."
-          Jocelyn Bell, male and female factor, Dundas

Conceivable Dreams is on twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ohip4ivf
And, if you need support, or can offer support to someone struggling with infertility, please visit Facebook to join the group Conceivable Dreams - Ohip4ivf. https://www.facebook.com/groups/conceivabledreams/


And there is also a fan page: Conceivable Dreams
I am community manager for the group Conceivable Dreams. As such I  am compensated. This is a group and a cause I support 100 %. My opinion is my own. 
 
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