Thursday, November 25, 2010

Don't just give it away (every time)

As soon-to-be grads trying to find our way into the workforce, myself and my fellow CreComms are looking for ways to get ourselves noticed. One good way, especially in our current city, is pro bono work.

Recent DMT grad and successful freelancer Jamie Isfeld shared a very relevant post on her blog about when not to take on a client. I highly recommend it as a simple warning to us - there is such a thing as biting off more than we can chew, especially when we're new to the neighbourhood.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Charging more for less

Since moving, I've become a loyal Safeway customer - there's one less than a block from my current residence, and I need all the free exercise I can get. I wandered in on Saturday to pick up my favourite on-the-go snack, SunRype's new, thicker Fruit to Go bars. You can get a package of 30 bars for about $14.99....

Or I thought you could, until I walked into the store and was greeted not by packages of 30 bars for $14.99, but packages of 12 bars for the confusing price of $12.99. What happened? I wondered to myself. Maybe there's been a mistake?

When I mentioned this to my mother, she shook her head. Nope, no mistake, she told me. Companies are shrinking the size of their product and charging a very similar price. Whether your toilet paper square got 0.004 of an inch smaller, or your 'variety pack' suddenly holds fewer of each variety, many food product manufacturers are making you pay the same amount for less product.

For more of a lowdown, check out the excellent article on the Free Press's website.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

But we just met!

Good friends shouldn't be parted so soon!

I definitely don't have a shoe fetish, but I think flats are cute. The fad came and went, and I wasn't able to buy a pair because I couldn't find any that fit me. Then, while shopping at one of my favourite second-hand clothing stores, I found them. Black with brown detailing and an itty-bitty heel. Floral print inner lining. Perfect for me.

Or so I thought until walking home from the bus one rainy evening. My right foot felt cold and wet, although my left foot was fairly dry. When I got home and examined my shoes, it was instant heartbreak: the sole of the right shoe had cracked completely through, letting in dirty rainwater that chilled my foot.

The shoes had cost me $4, and so I thought it was no big deal to dispose of them - repairing the sole would cost me at least three times as much as the shoes had. I'd only been able to spend a few months with these wonderful shoes, though, and the question of whether or not I should repair them has puzzled me ever since the right shoe broke. After all, if the point of making second-hand purchases is to conserve the environment by continuing to use goods that can still be used, did my disposal of the second-hand shoes fly in the face of this? Or is the point to get as much use as possible out of the shoes, and so the goal has been reached with this particular pair?

Let me know. Why do you buy second-hand, and what do you do with the items when they reach the end of their useful life?

Image credit to "38-Parrots" at

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

So long, and thanks for listening.

Sometimes you meet a person who's one thing to strangers and another thing to friends. Marty Gold was one such person. On air, he went overboard to express emotions that many citizens often feel: rage and frustration. Off the air, he was a friend to every student who helped with his show. He asked about our course load, offered help where he could, and was excited to help us learn how to operate the sound board. He frequently asked me if I had any classmates who wanted to learn, or if there was any way he could help us with our studies of radio.

At first, I was deeply alarmed when I worked for his talk show. He said a lot of things I strongly disagreed with, in ways that seemed rude and exaggerated to me. But many of those he spoke out so fiercely against were invited onto his show and did attend - Mayor Sam Katz being the most notable one. Watching Katz and Marty joke around off-air was encouraging; it reinforced to my mind that the anger was "just for show" and that Marty would welcome even those who called to tell him he was outright wrong - just as long as he knew people were thinking about civic issues and starting to be more aware of what goes on in their city.

The accusation that there was no student involvement in his show alarms me. No students were asked if they were involved in his show. One of my classmates would have shown up to operate the soundboard for Tuesday's show, had she not found out via TWITTER that it had been cancelled. The first-year students who opped for his show weren't asked or told about the cancellation, either. Another classmate who often appeared as a student commentator on his show wasn't told either. And I, volunteer news director for the station, was not consulted.

I've been told that Marty's spot took up a convenient time for students. And even though most classes end at 5pm and his show went from 4 to 5:30pm, I'll agree that some classes end earlier and so that statement is valid. But Marty did provide opportunities for students - students who went on to have their own shows and to teach others, like I did. Students who weren't consulted before a decision was made.

As a longtime volunteer for KICK FM, and a PR student, I feel that we volunteers are an important internal audience who should have been given a voice. And I also feel sad for Marty - at the end of the day, he's a person with feelings too, and he genuinely did want to help any student who wanted to learn about radio. I feel that he is a loss to the college's radio station.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion of his show - there are days that I changed the station while he was broadcasting, too, if I didn't see eye-to-eye with him on a topic. But looking beyond that to the advertising he brought in for the station, the live-remote broadcasts he did that I assisted on, and his interest in helping students, I see opportunities lost.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

To re-gift or not to re-gift...

Ah, it's that time of year again. A hint of frost is in the air, the leaves have already vanished from the surrounding trees, and a young woman's heart heavily turns to thoughts of...Christmas shopping.

What to get my grandmother who, approaching 90 years old and with over 60 grandchildren, is sure to receive enough duplicate gifts as it is?

How about for my younger sibling, so absorbed in the online world that any desired gift can be ordered instantly and cheaply from e-Bay without the cumbersome tasks of waiting until Christmas and unwrapping the gift?

On top of all these how-to-find-the-perfect-gift questions remains one: is it ever ok to give something you have already received, even if the gift is unopened?

I have a favourite aunt who would show up for my birthdays and at Christmas with clothes, makeup, or various accessories she had either bought and not wanted, or used and no longer liked, and had wrapped up for me. Since my aunt is cool and fashionable, I never minded as a kid, and I find that I care even less as an adult. This is something she liked, I reason, and she thought I would like it too. No harm done.

On the other side of the spectrum, I had an acquaintance give to me, for Christmas, the exact jar of hand cream I'd given her as a birthday gift. How did I know it was the exact one, and not just the same scent from the same company? IT WAS OPENED ALREADY WHEN I UNWRAPPED IT. I was doubly hurt - not only had she not liked my gift, she had given it back rather than get a gift for me. It seemed to speak volumes about how she viewed our friendship, and we stopped talking to each other soon afterward.

So, dear readers, where does the issue lie? If the gift suits the new recipient, isn't open or past its expiry date, and isn't originally FROM the new recipient, is it ok to re-gift, or is that the ultimate faux-pas? If you read this blog, I want to hear from you!

1) Would you re-gift? To whom? Under what circumstances?
2) What would you think about receiving a gift that was obviously re-given?
3) Is it deceitful to re-gift and not have the new recipient know the gift's origin?

Comment here and let me know!

Image courtesy (stockxchange)