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The red carpet is rolled out at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto on Wednesday September 8, 2010 as final preparations are made for Thursday's opening gala at the Toronto International Film Festival. (Chris Young)
The red carpet is rolled out at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto on Wednesday September 8, 2010 as final preparations are made for Thursday's opening gala at the Toronto International Film Festival. (Chris Young)

Grow: Mia Wedgbury

Promotional lessons learned from the film festival Add to ...

Toronto is buzzing this week with the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) – an annual event that transforms the city into an international hub for great films, celebrities and glittering high-profile events.

A young, very motivated entrepreneur named Ashley MacIntyre has been working hard this week at TIFF, and she got me thinking about the lessons small-business owners can learn from how she promotes her work in celebrity endorsement and event management.

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MacIntyre Communications is a small start-up that has seen incredible success in a very short time. Ms. MacIntyre has used her passion for networking and punchy marketing techniques to quickly become the go-to girl for companies that want to add a bit of glitz and glamour to their events.

“My business has grown as a result of non-stop networking and leveraging social media, photos and videos of my events to drive awareness,” Ms. MacIntyre says. “I am updating my Facebook site and blog several times a day.”

What I found interesting about Ms. MacIntyre is how she drives the growth of her business through images. Whether it is a snapshot of the celebrities she works with or the decor of events she has organized, when presenting her marketing collateral to a potential client her work isn’t crowded by text or heavy messaging – she lets the images speak for themselves.

“The photographer sells what I do better than anything I could try to describe with words,” she says. “A photo of a runway show or a celebrity-packed red carpet says it all.”

This is a good lesson for all entrepreneurs. So often, when I meet with business owners, they send me to text-laden websites or leave me long-winded brochures as background on their company. If they blog or tweet, they often use a lot of words, but very few links to video or photography that truly demonstrates the value of their product or service.

Tossing a great collection of photos up on Facebook or tweeting an image to your network is easy - and it is something customers and prospects will remember.

Plus, great photos and video are so much more accessible than they once were: camera phones, high-quality digital cameras and pocket HD video cameras are becoming a part of every PR specialist’s toolkit. By showcasing your work on your blog or social network after a big event, the potential for word-of-mouth marketing is huge.

We spend so much time crafting our messages and strategizing over the use of text, it sometimes comes out so dense it doesn’t catch the attention of our audience. We may not have celebrities at our events or showcasing our products, but we do have incredible user experiences that, if captured in a compelling way, will resonate with our audience and drive growth.

As entrepreneurs, we have a huge opportunity to just let the images of our successes speak for themselves.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Mia Wedgbury is president of the Canadian region for Fleishman-Hillard Canada and its sister company, High Road Communications. She has more than two decades of experience in creating and growing award-winning communications agencies. Her experience spans many sectors, including financial, technology, consumer and lifestyle. She works in partnership with her clients to build brands, mitigate risk and shape communications strategies.

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