By Kristina Mikhalkova

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Crystal Ball 2019: Year of authentic and unfiltered social stories

With 2019 ramping up, expect new trends throughout the news, social media, technology and more. At APEX and ruckus digital we will be sharing our predictions on some of these trends that we think will define 2019 (or at least part of it).

Katie Boland, account manager at ruckus Digital, shares her view on the growth of social stories.

It’s time to move on from fake news, fake followers and fake photos. It’s time for us to start being real on social media. My crystal ball prediction for 2019 is that it’s the year of real, authentic social stories.

I believe you’ll see the rise of people sharing imperfect pictures and videos in a new way that is different from the traditional news feed sharing. I think pre-sets, filters and perfecting the picture Instagram picture will be the exceptions in 2019.

Stories started with the disruption of Snapchat as a new channel for audiences to share content privately. Then stories were adopted by Instagram, which brought audience growth and expanded features. Now in 2019 stories are rolling out to Facebook and YouTube.

Stories generally disappear after a day and are focused on more real-time sharing within the moment. These photos or videos fill the entire mobile screen in a vertical format and allow consumers to focus on the content in front of them, rather than scrolling through a social newsfeed.

Consumers are rapidly moving to the stories format with more than 300 million daily active users. Of those daily users, 47 per cent feel that the format helps them be more authentic with friends and family.

This new format has changed the average engagement from the standard “like” or “comment” engagement we’re used to on social platforms, to adding polls, questions and emoji ratings to allow individuals to feel more connected to each other, brands or celebrities.

In fact, it could be the year my mom uses Facebook Stories to share pictures of her cat rather than just keeping an eye on my social networking activity.

Katie Boland is an account manager at ruckus digital. Check out more of our Crystal Ball series to know what other trends to expect in 2019. Need help with your social strategy? Drop us a line. 

Ruckus Digital Bolsters Staff Roster with Creative and SEO Hires

Ella Singleton and Nicole Pomeroy join ruckus to expand the agency’s integrated offering


TORONTO – November 29, 2018 – Delivering clients integrated thinking, strategy, execution and measurement is a promise APEX PR and its digital agency, ruckus, do not take lightly. The talent and effectiveness of its people are the foundation of this promise. ruckus is pleased to announce two hires that enhance its creative and digital offering. Ella Singleton joins as Director, Creative Strategies and Nicole Pomeroy joins as Senior Integrated Media Strategist.

Ella’s role will focus on senior creative counsel and leadership, and she will also support new business growth. Ella brings more than 15 years of experience in creative, design and agency roles with a diverse background in traditional advertising including TV and OOH, brand strategy development, digital marketing and public relations. She most recently worked at Colour, amplifying the firm’s cannabis credentials for Aurora Cannabis, as well at Proof Inc on brands such as Red Cross, SodaStream, Grand & Toy and Catelli.

Nicole adds bench strength to the firm’s strategy team, providing paid and earned digital expertise and counsel. Nicole brings experience in digital strategy, campaign execution, data analysis, influencer marketing and SEO optimization from her work on Realtor.ca, PWL Capital, Buffer Festival and Tito’s Handmade Vodka.

“The addition of Ella and Nicole enhances the strength of our incredibly talented digital team and delivers on our client promise of one-stop integrated expertise,” says Linda Andross, co-managing partner, ruckus Digital and APEX Public Relations. “Their vast experience will greatly benefit our clients, particularly those who are seeking insights and engagement with a wider variety of stakeholders through a variety of creative and design amplifications.”

About APEX Public Relations and ruckus Digital

A fiercely independent agency duo, APEX Public Relations and ruckus Digital (our agency within an agency) are comprised of experienced, smart, unconventionally minded creative communicators. The foundation of our success is our unwavering passion for our people, our purpose and our clients. In that order. The priority we put on our people allows us to consistently attract and retain a collective of diverse story makers, storytellers, strategists, data scientists, writers, filmmakers and social media experts. Our impressive track record with powerhouse brands and companies stems from our highly effective staff, but also our innate ability to adapt and respond to the constant evolution of the communications industry. We perpetually innovate and re-imagine ensuring the best possible result for our clients. Our sweet spot lives at the intersection of people, brands and technology. And our life’s work is dedicated to partnering with innovative companies in consumer brand marketing, technology, corporate, B2B and issues/reputation management sectors to tell their stories, engage their audiences and drive their business.

For more on our story, visit us at www.apexpr.com and www.ruckusdigital.ca.

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For more information:

Linda Andross at landross@apexpr.com   416-934-2117


We’re growing – looking for a Director, Social Creative!

Director, Social Creative

Ruckus Digital is looking for a Director, Social Creative based in Toronto to be part of the creative and design team leading the concepting and the execution of best in class content for a number of major clients across a wide variety of segments, as well as new business initiatives.

The Director, Social Creative will exude a creative vision and strong point of view, working collaboratively with the creative team, concepting the best ideas, delivering top-notch execution. The Director, Social Creative will roll up their sleeves, function collaboratively in a fast-paced environment and constantly test, optimize and elevate the work created.

As well as being a strong conceptual creative, the Director, Social Creative will have a multi-faceted visual background and be able to ‘get’ the various client and ruckus Digital aesthetic and be able to integrate this into all branded content executions: photography, video, experiential, social assets.

The Director, Social Creative will work closely with the various inter-disciplinary teams at both ruckus Digital and APEX PR, our sister agency, have a great external creative contact list and know how to establish meaningful and fruitful working relationships with other teams.

Critically, to be successful in this role, the Director, Social Creative will need to be a team player, have a creative vision, be passionate about social platforms/channels/formats and proud of the work and content delivered at each stage of the process: from concept to execution. The Director Social Creative will need to have endless ideas and positivity, a can-do attitude and believe that there is a creative solution for every problem thrown their way.

What you’ll do

  • You are the day to day social creative on the project, reporting to the VP and alongside a creative team.
  • You have strong social ideation and you are not afraid to roll up your sleeves and potentially shoot for Instagram (with a mobile device)
  • You ideate large-scale, multi-platform/multi-medium briefs (this means coming up with concepts for editorial, photo, video, social, experiential, etc.)
  • You always keep an eye on new trends, new technologies, new formats, updates on social channels and audience evolution to inspire and be inspired in your every-day creative work
  • You are on the lookout for social platform updates and can flag upfront any changes (20% rule on Paid Instagram, 20% rule on Facebook, …)
  • You ideate strong creative and social creative story concepts, making sure the creative ladders-up to and meets the larger brand strategy as well as the campaign strategy
  • You will oversee seamless scheduling process
  • You work simultaneously on several brands but treat each brand uniquely and create strong consistent stories/concepts for each.
  • You oversee the execution (under the guidance of the VP) of the small, medium to large, multi-disciplinary projects for the brand partner with an eye on unity and best in class aesthetic and storytelling. This includes commissioning all content, creating storyboards and visual treatments, art directing photo and video shoots, art directing experiential activations
  • Throughout a project’s lifecycle, you always make sure the creative and social output is executed to brief and meets with the objectives of the brand partner and tone of voice. You will fact-check the work that is delivered, sub-edit all written content and ensure excellency of creative outputs
  • You will look out for potential brand challenges and will come up with solutions to pre-empt those challenges
  • You help create meaningful relationships with partner brands, managing creative communication in pre-production, on set and in post-production. Ensuring that the partner brand needs and wishes are met, while being able to push back when/if needed in a very rationalized manner
  • You are a positive person, you are motivated and passionate about the work you do. You can think in the box and out of the box
  • You can create, refine and improve departmental and organizational processes that will better serve the client and improve business results
  • You understand in-flight optimization of content, always testing, learning and improving the work delivered
  • You have the ability to manage the budgets and interdisciplinary account teams on sizable pieces of business.

What you have

  • 8+ years of experience in public relations, advertising, social/digital media and/or marketing creating custom campaigns
  • You have a true passion for content creation across different mediums
  • Strong knowledge and passion of using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, etc
  • Excellent writer
  • Experience using social media platforms such as Tweetdeck, Facebook Analytics, Google Analytics
  • Strong creative conceptual and execution ability across digital, social, photo, video, experiential, campaign work
  • Open to sharing ideas and accepting constructive feedback.
  • Great performance record and client facing experience and confidence
  • True understanding of branded content strategy, creating and executing conceptual ideas that meet brand strategies and briefs
  • Experience with channel strategy and digital from a creative perspective
  • You will be line managed by an VP, but you will not be micromanaged. You will be expected to take full ownership of your work, be independent in delivering content, as well as own your decisions and be accountable for those

To be successful here you are

  • Comfortable working in a fast-paced, high volume team
  • You rise to the challenges, enjoy problem-solving in an ever-changing environment
  • You are always on the lookout to learn, be inspired by your team, to inspire them too
  • You react positively to constructive criticism, take it onboard and transform into a positive evolution for you
  • You are inspired to push boundaries, but you know how to respond to a brief and working within a budget and timeline
  • You adhere to a creative vision, and you are confident about communicating it internally and externally

We want to meet great people who are interested in working in a start-up environment where culture matters, and curiosity is valued.  Send your resume to: info@ruckusdigital.ca



ruckus welcomes and encourages applications from people with disabilities. Accommodations are available on request for candidates taking part in all aspects of the selection process. If you require accommodation to participate in this recruitment, please contact info@ruckusdigital.ca


Grace Toby – Freelancer



Our interview series continues with Grace Toby to talk about trends in the world of journalism and what she loves most about being a writer.

  1. What made you go into journalism?


“English was my major in university. I loved to write and found an internship at a magazine one summer. This is where I truly fell in love with journalism and the industry. Although the media landscape has changed drastically since I first went into the field, I love the idea of being able to learn about a variety of different topics throughout my work. It’s exciting to get an assignment where I need to research or learn about something I have little knowledge about.”


  1. What’s your favourite and least favourite thing about journalism?


“I love being about to write about a variety of different topics and interviewing strangers and having them open up to me. I get to learn something new with every story I write and it’s great to be able to share with readers new ideas or stories that they can relate to. My least favourite thing about the industry would have to be the uncertainty the future has to hold. The changing media landscape leaves little room to know exactly what will happen with new technologies and practices that are being adapted by media today.”


  1. Where do you see the industry heading in the next few years?


“I think in the next five years the industry will be very different. More online publications will surface with PR and marketing agencies having to adapt their pitching styles. More freelancers will be working in the field and individual relationships between freelancers and PR agencies are going to be very important.”


  1. What’s one piece of advice you can give PR agencies when pitching story ideas?


“Do your research. Make sure you know the beat of the journalist you are reaching out to. There is nothing worse than getting a mass email for people asking me to write about something that I have never covered before. Blanket pitches are not the answer here. If you aren’t sure about what the journalist writes about just ask them!”


  1. How to do you feel influencers differ from traditional media?


“I tend to only follow influencers that are experts in their field such as nutritionists, personal trainers, stylists, etc. I like to know the information being shared by those influencers is factually correct and authentic, since there is so much data being thrown around these days. The majority of influencers use content creation as a source of income and may not be the most knowledgeable about the things they are promoting.”


These five questions with Grace Toby were compiled by Kristina Mikhalkova, Coordinator, and Lindsey Soper, Consultant, APEX PR/ruckus digital. Follow Kristina on Twitter. Follow Lindsey on Twitter.

5 Qs: Danie Reyes, CEO, and Catherine Sugrue, COO, of Do the Daniel Inc.

APEXers and the ruckus team are asking five questions about the year it’s been and what individuals are looking forward to in 2018. Up first…

Daniel Reyes
CEO, Do The Daniel Inc.

Catherine Sugrue
COO, Do The Daniel Inc.


1. How do you choose the content you share with your followers?

Daniel: “It’s all about the things that actually resound with us. We would never write about or partner with anything we don’t believe in. We want to be one hundred percent transparent with our audience and the only way to do that is to make sure you are supporting things you believe in.”

2. In your opinion, what is an example of a compelling campaign?

Catherine: “Audible, a seller and producer of spoken audio entertainment, information, and educational programming on the Internet, launched in Canada last year. To promote the launch, the brand ran a campaign that contracted different influencers throughout the year, to promote awareness amongst consumers all year round. I think that’s a great way of keeping the narrative going!”

3. What are your most favourite and least favourite things about being an influencer?

Daniel: “The best thing about being an influencer is that no two days are ever the same! There are long term partnerships we can rely on, but every day at the office is always new. There are so many aspects involved in keeping this business running that you never get bored.”

Catherine: “The boundaries sometimes get blurred in this industry. Shutting off from work is not always an option. It’s hard when you’ve built a brand where every single second of your life needs to be seen, to ask for that time to yourself.”

4. How does it feel to have a partner who is in the same industry?

Daniel: “In the beginning it was a lot of fun because we used to go to the same events all the time. As both Do The Daniel and Fashion Nights continue to grow it’s fantastic to be able to support each other, but it’s also great to be able to operate in different circles. However, it’s nice to have the constant support and mutual understanding of the business and the industry.”

5. How do you see the industry changing?

Daniel: “For a long time, there have been a lot of individuals in this industry. Lately, we have noticed more and more that like-minded people are beginning to collaborate in teams, and create content for a larger audience. There is more support throughout the industry.“

These five questions with Daniel Reyes and Catherine Sugrue were compiled by Kristina Mikhalkova, Coordinator, and Lindsey Soper, Consultant, APEX PR/ruckus digital. Follow Kristina on Twitter. Follow Lindsey on Twitter.

CPRS event: The benefits of research and data collection

In the past 10 years, the public relations industry has advanced tremendously in how it collects and reports data, conducts research and quantifies success.

On February 5, 2018, the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS) Toronto held an informative event where attendees had a chance to listen to four leading industry experts discuss how essential data has become in the digital age and how best to leverage it.

Read insights from the panelists on the CPRS Toronto blog Four reasons why PR demands data.

The panelists included our very own Diane Bégin, APR, vice president, who gave insights on how we leverage our research and data and how to use the information for strategic planning.

“There is so much data out there, and it is our job to guide our teams and clients on what the right, meaningful variables are to measure,” said Bégin. “We need to ensure the variables we are measuring are impacting our clients’ businesses in the right way and aligning seamlessly with their business objectives.”

Bégin added this has the potential to move clients’ in the right direction by allowing us to measure a real return on investment.

Need making sense of measuring your communications program? Drop us a line. Kristina Mikhalkova is a coordinator at APEX Public Relations / ruckus Digital.

ruckus makers: What is branded content?

The future of branded storytelling is evolving as individuals expect more from the organizations that market to them.

So, we invited Heather Loosemore, Sr. Director of Marketing Communications at Walmart Canada and Kaaren Whitney-Vernon, SVP Branded Entertainment at Shaftesbury to share their insights at our last ruckus makers speaker series. Here, Kaaren Whitney-Vernon shares here thoughts on on “What is branded content?”

Find out more about Upstairs Amy, a new branded content series by Walmart Canada. Also see a Storify recapping the future of branded storytelling ruckus makers event.


Meet our integrated media designer

Vanessa Cuartas is ruckus Digital’s newest team member, joining our design shop.

Florida native, Vanessa attended the University of Central Florida and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in graphic design. Following her undergrad, she attended the Miami Ad School for Advertising. Here’s what she had to say about her role.

1. Who inspires you?

“I’m inspired by many people in my life but the main people who inspire me are Paula Scher, American graphic designer, painter and art educator, and Jessica Hische, American letterer, illustrator and type designer. However, I do believe the most important thing to get inspiration from is everything around you.”

2. What’s the coolest thing you’re working on right now?

“I could honestly say all the projects I’m working on are very cool. All of the projects have a different objective, look and feel, which is something I’m enjoying. It allows me to get out of my comfort zone and design in different styles. One of my favourite projects so far was the Black Friday animations for Walmart and some RSA (insurance) animations as well.”

3. Who in the agency would you most like to swap places with for a day?

“Gary Edgar, VP, creative and design at ruckus digital: it would be amazing to see the process of how he comes up with different ideas and strategies for the projects he works on.”

4. How do you get out of a creative rut?

“If I’m in a creative rut, I like to leave the project or zone and go do something else. I love to paint, which is what I do to relieve any stress and just put my feelings out there. Then I come back good as new.”

5. What is the most important piece of advice you could give for someone starting a career in graphic design?

“Don’t take life too seriously, enjoy the ride. Be prepared to give and receive feedback and learn from the experience.”

6. What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in the last year?

“Always keep learning and be open to new things, even if they are outside of your comfort zone!”

Need some creative inspiration for your communications? Drop us a line.

Upstairs Amy – the making of a web series

Recently Walmart and Interac launched their new comedy web series, Upstairs Amy. We spoke with Jenn Stein of APEX and Gary Edgar of ruckus Digital to find out what goes into making it, how the brands get integrated and why they think this approach will work with the target audience.

Subscribe to Upstairs Amy on YouTube and watch new episodes every Monday

How to get the internship

For many college and university students, the search for an internship can cause sleepless nights and worry-filled days. Our four interns can attest to these feelings because only a few short months ago those were the shoes they occupied. Fast forward a few months and all four are busy working in the world of PR. So we thought who better to ask for some advice on how to get the internship than our interns. Here’s what they had to say:



Kristia Pavlakos, intern coordinator for 6 months

“My best piece of advice is to not be afraid to take chances and get out of your comfort zone. If you want to grow and thrive in this industry, you need to network! One month before I got the internship (almost to the day, actually), I went to a networking event hosted by a Toronto-based magazine, The Kit. Everyone was so accomplished (and fashionable!) and I was absolutely terrified to start a conversation, but I set a goal to introduce myself to at least five people by the end of the day. I ended up speaking with The Kit’s marketing director, Evie and met with her a week later to discuss breaking into the industry. Forcing myself to get out there and talk to people really helped me with the interview process at APEX (and it was a bonus that APEX works with The Kit all the time!). It also helped me after I started working – PR is all about building relationships – with your coworkers, your clients and the media, among others – and learning how to start a conversation, how to ask questions and how to thrive in new (and sometimes intimidating) settings is a very important part of building any career.”


Kristina Mikhalkova, intern coordinator for 3 months


“Research! I can’t stress this enough. Research is the most important first step of getting your

internship. It’s important because during this process you’ll start to identify which organizations you really want to go through with the application process for and which you don’t. After you’ve done your research think about you, who you are and whether or not you will fit into the organizations based on the research you’ve completed. You have to find the internships that best suits you. Because after all, even though it’s a trial period in the workforce, you don’t to be going to work and waiting for the weekend. You want to love your internship.”


Kevin Behar, intern coordinator for 3 months


“Perseverance and networking. We all go through tough times where we are applying for internships and jobs and we are not getting responses. Keep pushing through that because eventually, you will begin to get those call backs, which is an awesome feeling. All that hard work will pay off. Networking opens doors for you. You could end up working for someone you met, or they can connect you with another internship opportunity. These connections can also give you a real sense of what it is like to work in that particular field because it’s important that you find something you like.”


Alison Chiu, intern coordinator for 2 months


“The first step is definitely to do your research! While looking for an internship, you want to make sure the organization or company you’re applying to is one that you feel would be the right fit and that you’re passionate about joining the team. Look into what the company cares about and what they’re involved in, as well as the responsibilities of the intern role. It’s a good idea to also research the people who will be interviewing you; you might have similar interests or have a better idea of what you want to share during your meeting. Along with lots of research, I found it was helpful to prepare myself for what information I wanted to share with my interviewers. Don’t have a whole script prepared, but think about your key points and stick to that. Otherwise, it’ll sound too scripted and disingenuous. When you think about your key points, think about ways you can stand out with your personality and experience with what they’re looking for. Making connections and being open to learning and new ideas is also really important, you never know who you might meet, and what you can do, unless you try it.”