Graduating to new heights

I’ve had the pleasure to author three features for Saint Mary’s University Alumni Association’s Maroon & White Magazine highlighting their esteemed graduates. Most recently, in April 2021, I interviewed four new alumni and was blown away by their dedication to their studies and their school.

Although they have each faced their own unique challenges in their individual pursuits, they all share the same “Huskies” spirit and determination. Regardless if all goes according to their plans, I’m confident in their futures to succeed in their academic, athletic, and professional careers.

You can read the full article online and below are short excerpts from each of their stories:

Alexander “Alex” Peters graduated with his Bachelor of Commerce degree and a double major in Finance and Economics, along with an impressive list of awards and accolades. He is the captain this year for the Saint Mary’s Huskies Men’s Hockey team, a four-year Academic All-Canadian (an honour that recognizes exceptional student-athletes who achieve a high academic standing) and Alex was on the Dean’s List each year, too.

Growing up in a small town in Manitoba, Gena Dufour was not exposed to many educational opportunities first-hand beyond her high school degree. At 24 years-old, today she not only holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Master of Science in Forensic Psychology, Gena is a first generation academic in her family.

As a young girl, Leena Roy Chowdhury wanted to be an engineer or a doctor when she grew up. While attending high school in her hometown of Kolkata, India, she focused her studies on chemistry, physics, math and biology to prepare for her future education.

During her first year of studies at Beijing Normal University, Zhuhai, China, Yingjun Chen participated in the Saint Mary’s University Exchange Program. She selected courses that piqued her interest, including a French class, and that experience influenced her to transfer to Saint Mary’s for her second year.

Congratulations to all the 2021 graduates!

Revive! with the National Arts Centre

The National Arts Centre (NAC) in Ottawa launched its Revive! campaign to engage with their existing audience and create awareness for the organization among new audiences, too. The marketing team saw the opportunity to onboard the NAC to TikTok and pilot the app as its primary social media platform for the campaign.

I had a fantastic time working with the NAC team to produce and post 14 TikToks to kick-start Revive!. I was also thrilled to present my first “TikTok 101: How to make a TikTok” lunch and learn for dozens of NAC staff.

Among the many highlights during the six-week campaign: there were almost 4,000 video views, an average of nearly 100 plays/day, and the NAC TikToks were viewed in eight different countries. We drilled down further to determine their engagement rate for Facebook and YouTube is close to 5% (well above the less than 1% average), and for TikTok it’s 376%. WOAH!

We wrapped our work on the project in mid-May and I’m excited to see the NAC TikTok account is thriving. I’m looking forward to working with more creators and organizations to help them explore the app and engage with audiences all over the world.

Your new neighbourhood awaits

The Lawen Group is building their first project in Halifax’s West End, located at 7037 Mumford Road, in the heart of Halifax’s quintessential suburban neighbourhood. At a towering 22 stories, West22 embraces contemporary architecture with modern amenities and finishes, creating a relaxed atmosphere with an abundance of natural light.

Diane Lawen is the digital media manager at The Lawen Group and is preparing to introduce the building to the public. I was hired to provide copywriting to support the launch and various marketing initiatives including descriptions for the building design, suite features, amenities, the neighbourhood, and its history.

To set the theme and tone for West22, I wrote a statement, “Your new neighbourhood awaits.,” to accompany the title of the building for on-site signage, as an introduction to the website, and a descriptor for social media.

It was my pleasure to work with The Lawen Group and Dexel Development to help promote their latest edition to the West End.

Fresh looks for Cal LeGrow

Stephen Bishop is a ridiculously talented graphic designer and website developer in Nova Scotia. He invited me along to help create the concept and write copy for Cal LeGrow Insurance & Financial Group‘s new website for their home and auto insurance.

I cannot tell you how much fun it is to work with the Cal LeGrow team. They’re a youthful, dynamic group of experienced and empathetic people who I would trust with all my most prized possessions. I looked forward to every moment of our time spent together, just like you would a best friend. 🙂

Real Talk: Please read this if you want to onboard your business to TikTok.

In November, I was hired by a social media company to pitch, plan, produce, and execute a TikTok campaign for one of their clients, a non-profit organization that had received a small amount of funding to “experiment” with the app. I won the work and the company gave me the project to run with.

I’ve been on TikTok for 18 months and I have more followers on the app than on my Instagram, with over 45,000 likes for my content and 634,500 views.

I’m going to share with you some of what I’ve learned, in hopes that as the app continues to grow, more professionals over the age of 25 will better understand how to onboard their business to TikTok without making fools of themselves.

a) Just download the app and use it.

I’m shocked by how many people have reached out to me and said they want to be on TikTok for their business, but they don’t use the app because “my sixteen-year-old daughter has it”. That’s an actual quote from a potential client (who’s work I turned down).

If you are looking at your teenage daughter’s For You page and you think that is TikTok, then you and I are so far away from having a mutual understanding about the app that there’s no point in even talking about it. It would be a lot easier for me, and anyone else who you want to work with on TikTok, if you just download the app and use it for 2-3 hours a day for a week and then see how you feel about the whole thing. I have over 1,500 hours logged, surely you can manage 15.

b) Get a phone.

In the beginning, my client and the non-profit underestimated me and their own potential success on the platform, unfortunately. I explained that it would be best for someone, other than me, to get a phone for the campaign to download, set up, and manage the account. Otherwise, at the end of the campaign, I would need to delete their TikTok account from my app and send them their data files. The latter is what they chose to do.

What happened? The campaign went off like gangbusters and, of course, they wanted to keep their account active and run a second campaign. However – back to my first point – their TikTok account was set up in my app on my phone and I had no choice but to delete it once the campaign ended because you can only have three active profiles on TikTok at one time and I needed to make room for other projects. If you were to set up a TikTok account for yourself, you would also know this.

c) TikTok isn’t YouTube.

Please don’t send me your big-budget infomercial that you made for something else to post on your TikTok account. I’m telling you now: it won’t get plays, nobody will follow you, and it will be a big waste of time for everyone. It doesn’t mean you can’t repurpose video footage you already have, but TikTok isn’t YouTube. You need to create original content for TikTok for your account to be successful. I know that’s hard for you to hear, I’m sorry, but I don’t make the rules.

d) TikTok isn’t Instagram.

Think about TikTok vs. Instagram like movies vs. TV. Would you go to a movie theatre to watch a TV show? No. Just like you wouldn’t go to TikTok hoping to watch Instagram content. However, true to the analogy, movies are sometimes broadcast on TV. Do you notice how half your Instagram feed is now full of TikToks disguised as posts, stories, or reels? Oh wait, you’re not on TikTok so how would you know?

e) The word “Influencer” is gross.

As a content creator, I’ve had free offers for products and collaborations in return for promotion in my videos. This is the influencer game and that’s not what TikTok is about. I don’t want to intersperse your advertising in my content. My strategy is a reality-based, educational model and that is my focus; I don’t use hashtags and I don’t pay for advertising or to promote posts. I’ve come up with a formula that makes it easy for me to capture footage in the moment and share it as it happens, and my audience appreciates that. I don’t want to ruin my relationship with them by pretending to use your brand of air freshener in my shot while I’m cleaning up dog poop on the floor.

Plus, you’re undermining the entire TikTok audience if you think passive advertising is going to work. I will try things people give me and if I like them and they find their way into my content, I will give you a shout-out, but I’m not bargaining my audience’s time for money. Instead, I’m in talks to offer workshops, write a children’s book, and to produce my first TV show. All because I simply make great content, for free, at no cost. I’d rather do those things and be a content creator than an influencer.

f) Talent comes at a price.

“We want you to just manage our TikTok account.” This is a real statement from another potential client (again, who’s work I turned down) who had no intention of making their own videos, collaborating to create content, or contributing a “face” to deliver their message.

I understand that because I was the face in the TikToks for the non-profit campaign, people who saw that and contacted me might think that’s what I do. But, I’ll say it here: I invested in myself to be the talent in the campaign – there was no line item for talent in the budget – because I knew that’s what would make the strategy successful.

Not only did I buy my own equipment and film in every room in my home (at Christmas time – don’t ask how many times I had to move my tree to block shots), I pulled non-logo garments from my wardrobe, did my own make-up, paid to have my nails done, my hair done, and my teeth cleaned (yup!) because I have a background in film and television production and casting talent and I know that these things matter.

TikTok is a place where genuine content thrives. Unless you want to hire me personally to represent your company on social media, the “face” of your campaign needs to be figured out, not faked. Talent comes at a price, and if you chose to go in that direction, it’s a price you should pay.

g) The analytics provided by TikTok are far superior to Instagram or Facebook.

TikTok puts Instagram and Facebook to shame when it comes to data analytics, and you don’t need to pay to promote posts to find out more insights. The client who hired me and the non-profit didn’t know the extent of what the app offers so they declined a final report and opted for a final meeting to re-cap instead. I went ahead and spent the better part of an entire week (including one all-nighter) compiling data and exploring inferences to illustrate their success on the app. The non-profit said the report was “phenomenal”, it went far beyond their expectations, just like the campaign.

Oddly enough, the social media company tried to steal my documents digitally by changing my settings on their Google drive from edit to read only for the final report. I can only think they wanted to plagiarize my work for future projects, and I was angry at first, but now I keep in my mind that “imitation is the best form of flattery” and I’m accepting it as a compliment. Thankfully, I do have backups.

I’m not going to go into details about the analytics because if you create a TikTok business or creator account, you can see them for yourself.

h) I don’t want to talk about numbers for ROI.

I understand you run a business and you want to see a return on your investment in the form of money. Think of it this way: if social media was a marketing department with divisions, Facebook is your sales and advertising people, Twitter is communications, Instagram is graphic design, and then TikTok is your public relations.

I can send your press release to 100 media outlets but I cannot promise you that your story will be picked up. Your publicist isn’t responsible for selling your product, but if you happen to get sales because their strategy is very good, then you can all celebrate.

i) Follow me on TikTok @apollo.stella and IG @kristakeough

Because the campaign with my (former) client and the non-profit ended on a sour note, it left a bad taste in my mouth every time I shared the work I did with others, and I’m not waiting for another RFP to bid on to show off what I can do. So, I’ve taken matters into my own hands.

Over the past three weeks, I’ve created an IGTV docuseries called “Apollo & Stella Selena’s World Tour” to document, from the very beginning, my foster fail journey. It’s pure, wholesome, PG content on the daily that I make from my home with my two dogs who have fallen in love @kristakeough. Tomorrow we’re celebrating 20,000 views with our friends. In the next week, we’ll be introducing ourselves to TikTok @apollo.stella and you’ll see how I’m straddling the two apps using my video footage. I’ve also written The Story of Joy and shared it on my website to help you follow along (see my next post!).

Thank you for watching!

The Story of Joy

Exactly three weeks ago, I was sitting at my computer (where I am right now), working to bide my time until I could watch SNL at 12:30. I remembered a vivid dream I had the night before. I was on a beach in New Zealand with my sister. She was running ahead of me with her dog, Summit, a beautiful American Staffordshire Terrier and Labrador mix. I looked down to my right to see my dog running, too. But it wasn’t Apollo. It was a grey and white version of Summit. I felt such joy in that moment, being with my sister who lives so far away, with our dogs who we love.

Thinking about that dream, I looked up Fly With Me Animal Rescue’s Instagram. I knew I wanted a sister for Apollo; he has a playful spirit and I want to give him that bond of loving another dog. When my Google page refreshed, low and behold, there staring back at me was Joy. She was the dog in my dream. A grey and white pit mix. It was meant to be.

I went to the Fly With Me website and submitted both a foster and an adoption application for Joy. On Tuesday, I followed up, and the next day I had an interview and virtual house tour with Jen, an amazing volunteer. All went well and I was eagerly anticipating we’d be welcoming home our new foster on the weekend.

Early Thursday morning, Jen sent me a message. “I have news that is going to disappoint you: Joy is not available.”

What? How could this be? She was perfect; literally the dog of my dreams. I couldn’t understand why everything would align in this way, to bring me Joy, only for my dream to be crushed.

Later that afternoon, Jen emailed me back to say they had another foster, Selena, who they’d hoped I’d be interested in. My heart was set on one dog, but I’d also really fallen in love with the idea of fostering so I agreed to look at her photo. The first thing I saw was her big smile; Selena was not polished like Joy, but, of all the dogs in the world, she was another grey and white pit mix.

There was just one thing: she didn’t look like a Selena to me. “I’ll name her Stella,” I thought, which means “star”. Apollo in Greek mythology is the god of music, poetry, and light.

I agreed to take Selena as my foster and she was added to the truck the next morning, headed for Halifax, on her freedom journey.

I’m a content creator so I started to document our experiences together from the time that we met because I thought it would be fun for my family and friends (and to promote fostering! ). We’ve received so much support that I’m going to keep making and sharing our videos on Instagram @kristakeough as we’re learning new things. And I hope you all follow along.

I wanted to share this story because I know many people who are, or want to, foster and adopt. There are so many emotions, so many ups and downs. I had no idea what I was getting into, but I can wholeheartedly say now, exactly three weeks later, I truly feel I have brought Joy to our home. And her name is Stella.

TikTok you don’t stop

Over the break I produced and launched a TikTok campaign for Atlantic Association of CBDCs with Sociable Media and it has been an absolute blast. This weekend, one of our TikToks started trending and has accumulated over 20,000 views!

This is my first TikTok campaign for a client and I want to do many more. I’m especially proud because I created the strategy, storyboards, and sketches; I chose the audio; wrote the scripts, supers, captions, and hashtags; I recorded all the video in my condo, blocked shots, lighting; did makeup, wardrobe; did all the editing – oh, and did I mention, I’m pretending to act IN the TikToks!! And it’s a bilingual campaign!

It truly has been so much fun and I’m ready for the next one.

What’s your story?

When I started Krista Keough Creative Communications in 2007, I didn’t have any sort of plan. I was confident in my abilities and my resourcefulness; I had ideas about what I wanted to do and a passion for storytelling. For a marketing and communications professional, you might not see telling stories as an important part of business, but it is for me.

Throughout my career, I have been drawn to entrepreneurs with a story, songwriters who sing stories, and creators who have a story to tell. It’s the thread that ties together my experience in advertising, film, TV, publicity, grant writing, artist management, teaching, marketing, and communications together. I love sharing a good story and helping others share theirs.

Although I didn’t have a plan, I learned a lot from one of my first gigs as the director’s assistant for a big-budget film. Immediately after I arrived home from my last day on set, I wrote this piece for myself to reflect on my time in my role. Little did I know where my journey would take me, or that these lessons learned would be just as relevant to my business today as they were then.

As we’re looking ahead to a new year, I’m looking forward with eager anticipation, ready for the next chapter in my story.

On a mission

As an entrepreneur, Jenine Panagiotakos is leading the charge toward building coworking communities in Atlantic Canada. Her business, Many Hats Workspace, is located on the 3rd floor of the Bedford Basin Farmers Market and has attracted resident and co-working members who provide a range of professional services, health and wellness practices, and creative offerings.

Jenine is expanding Many Hats Inc. to offer consulting services for builders and commercial property owners to develop, curate, and manage shared workplaces. She is forming new partnerships with industry groups and clients in her target market to create more coworking spaces in Halifax through new construction, retrofitted buildings, and repurposed commercial space. These projects will come to light in 2021 and will make a big impact on the city’s landscape.

I was thrilled to work with Jenine to write a new vision statement for Many Hats Inc.:
See your future in coworking.

And a mission statement:
To foster the growth and development of coworking communities.

With a clear vision and mission, Many Hats Inc. is well on its way to achieving its goal: for people to imagine themselves in a coworking space and feel inspired to be part of the shared workplace movement.

Personality that pops

Nicole Gallant is a sales and marketing guru with a firecracker personality. Her enthusiasm for networking is infectious and her approach to selling is refreshingly genuine. As a leader in the Halifax business community, Nicole shares her knowledge on her website and in her blog, where she’s amassed 20 amusing and informative essays about her experiences in the field.

SmartCat Marketing is Nicole’s business and its brand reflects many of her unique qualities. When we met over Zoom to discuss her website, we decided to do an overall proofreading and editing of the current copy, including the 20 blog entries, in order to communicate her conversational tone while keeping grammar and consistency at the forefront of her writing. One of my favourite things to do is bring my client’s personality to life in the words that they write, and I’m grateful I was able to do that for Nicole and SmartCat Marketing.