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Last month, the awesome folks at TTCriders organized a photo competition, where TTC users were encouraged to take a photo of their overcrowded commute (hence the sardines reference) and send it to us.  We then chose the best photo and converted it into an award to give to MPP Glen Murray for failing to fix transit in Toronto. Well, we actually chose four, because we couldn’t decide which one was the best.  

See below for one of the winning photos. This photo was one of four award winning photos.

The TTC Sardines Award competition generated so much media attention.   We were on TV or radio nearly every day for a week and then some.   There was CBC’s Metro Morning, CBC News, the Toronto Sun, Inside Toronto, Torontoist, Now Magazine, CP 24, and more.

Why did this event get so much media attention?

First, I think our media success was partly because we did all the standard media work you do to get coverage. We sent out a press release to our list of reporters that we keep updated, and we did pitch calls to key journalists that know us and regularly report on transit.

Second, our media success was also due to the fact that the photo competition and award delivery plays into what the media likes to cover.

The media likes novelty: mock awards are not common.

The media likes events, and we were planning on organizing an event to deliver the award.

The media — especially TV — likes visuals, and the photos coming in from TTC users provided that.   Not surprisingly, TV liked our story more than print media. Aside from the Toronto Sun, the print media left us alone.

The media also like controversy and drama, and there is mystery and conflict inherent in our whodunnit story as we were planning on giving an award to an as-yet-unnamed high profile elected official.

And third, we had some serious luck on our side.  And you cannot underestimate this. Transit is a super hot issue in Toronto right now, and it was a slow news week. A few weeks prior to this event we organized a rally at City Hall during the city budget process. Tonnes of media turned up and we got some live coverage then and there, but then Rob Ford said something offensive and Justin Trudeau said he was going to abolish the Liberals in the Senate.  We didn’t get much coverage after that, and that’s the way it goes when you’re dealing with a fickle media cycle.

Thanks to all of those who made this #TTCSardine Award competition and event happen, including: Jenn, Ken, Herman, Brenda, Stef, Marco, Roxanna, Cindy, Helen, and more. Are you interested in hiring a media consultant or bringing us in to host a training for your organization?  Contact us at [email protected] or contact the training organization, Tools for Change, at [email protected]

Tools for Change just organized an awesome media training with the very talented Hussan from No One Is Illegal Toronto and David Sone from Earthroots, but we’ll be organizing some more media trainings come September, so make sure to join our email list.

I’m also organizing a three-day media training conference with Sharmeen Khan and Martin Lukacs for the Canadian Association of Labour Media. This conference  will be held in Montreal May 1 to 3, and there’s still some tickets left. Go to www.calm.ca/conference to register.   We are organizing 20 workshops, including workshops led by Peter Birt from ONA, Dave Bleakney from CUPW, Denise Hammond from AMAPCEO, and Anna Jover from OPSEU.  Also, Joanne Deer from the award winning agency NOW Communications is leading a day long session on how communicators can oust Harper from office, and more.  Can’t wait.

Anyway, here’s some TV coverage we got on City TV.