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The Blogerati Files: The Client Side

Over the past two years The Blogerati Files has featured many great interviews with local blogging favourites. It's time to shake up the format and spread the spotlight. Until then, this will be the last interview-style Blogerati Files post...

This week in the Blogerati Files, The Client Side's Michael Seaton, Director of Digital Marketing at Scotiabank..

Describe your blog in 10 words or less.
A client-based view of marketing, advertising, communications and digital media.

Why did you start blogging?
It started as an experiment. There were so many great advertising and PR agency people blogging from their world-view, but there was a dearth of client voices being heard. I wanted to balance things out and keep all those agency hacks on their toes! ;-)

I celebrated my first anniversary last May and am coming up on the first anniversary of my podcast shortly, which is also called The Client Side. I began blogging when I helped launch the Canadian Marketing Association's Blog. I figured why not start up my own blog too.

How long have you lived in Toronto?
I lived in Toronto all of my life. Toronto is an awesome city. It has a great soul.

What's the funniest/strangest thing that has happened to you in Toronto?
When I was fourteen, I was in a line at McDonald's (which used to be across from the Eaton Centre) right next to Leonard Cohen. He had just played a concert at Massey Hall around the corner. We chatted for a little while over some french fries. He was very cool and a really nice guy. I was too young at the time to realize how influential an artist he was.

What are some of the changes in Toronto that you have seen in your lifetime?
Sprawl and traffic. There has been such huge growth in the GTA, mostly as you drive north out of the city. My family had a cottage on Lake Simcoe near Jackson's Point and we would get there by driving up Woodbine in the days when the 404/DVP ended at Steeles Ave. Once you entered Thornhill, Richmond Hill, Vaughn etc., it was all farm country. In fact, I remember being a little lad and having a birthday party at a farm with pony rides on what is now the site of IBM offices on Steeles at Pharmacy Road.

And, what ever happened to all the video arcades and head shops on Yonge Street? When did they disappear? I am dating myself way too much on this question.

What era, day or event in Toronto's history would you like to re-live and why?
Great question. In terms of my own youth, I loved being a mod in my teen years. I would be fun to re-live hanging out at places like Larry's Hideaway, Ziggos Pizza, Club-Z, The Twilight Zone. And, there were great summertime happenings at the Police Picnics. I'd love to re-live those days, only this time with a later curfew!

If I could go further back in time, I would probably like to check out Yorkville in the mid-sixties and see what was going on in that scene, hang out and jam with Neil Young or other great musicians just getting their careers off the ground in those days.

All that being said, living in Toronto today is a great experience.

Who's your favourite Torontonian?
Funny, I started to answer this question a week ago and I wrote down one name: Ed Mirvish. In the meantime, while I was contemplating what to say about him, he passed away.

Ed defined "Toronto the good". He was an innovator, entrepreneur, restaurateur and a super guy. He brought us a sense of culture and put Toronto on the map as a world-class destination for theatre and entertainment.

And, he touched the lives of nearly every immigrant to this city in a direct way. Ask any new Torontonian where they went for bargains in an age before big box stores and they would say "Honest Ed's".

And then there is Ed's Warehouse and the other restaurants along King St he owned. He served up the best mashed potatoes and green peas ever! Any kid that ate at any of Ed's restaurants in their heyday will testify that it was truly an event. I have incredible memories of being there with my grandparents.

Do you have a favourite free WiFi spot?
The deck in my backyard.

Do you have a favourite post from your blog?
My favorite post was titled "DADD - Digital Attention Deficit Disorder". Many of us suffer from this disorder as a result of spending the majority of our time online.

Have you had your 15 minutes yet?
I certainly hope not. My narcissistic side hopes it lasts a lot longer than 15 minutes.

Interesting you phrase the question that way. I do quite a bit of public speaking in U.S and Canada. My latest speech is titled "Fifteen Megs of Fame" and it is all about how the internet is giving rise to average individuals to achieve their own fame in the online world. We don't need Ed Sullivan or Tiny Talent time to help us become famous anymore, which is both encouraging and scary.

In terms of my fifteen minutes (or fifteen megs), I have been quoted/interviewed in the Globe & Mail, National Post and other periodicals, and have had CBS Online link to my blog, The Client Side. It is cool to get outside recognition but it is fleeting. You can't ever let it go to your head.

All that being said, links from other bloggers, not mainstream media drives the most of the traffic to my site and it is that kind of attention I'd much rather receive.

Ever met a stranger who already knew you through your blog? If so, how did it go?
Yes, all the time. It always goes well as the caliber of people who are participating in social media are top notch, both readers and writers. I have actually met some great new friends through blogging and podcasting. Go figure that social media is actually quite social.

Who are your favourite bloggers?
In the marketing space, simply go to my blog and check out my blog roll. All my favorites are there. On the nonsense front, my wife got me into checking out LaineyGossip every now and again. Everyone loves up-to-date celebrity dirt, don't they?

What's happening in Toronto right now that the rest of us should be watching?
The green movement and a cleaner city. We are all aware that we need to be doing much more for our environment, yet I still see people throwing garbage out of their car windows and while walking down the street. How are we going to help the planet when people can't even keep stop themselves from messing up their own streets? We have a long way to go as a planet, and it starts in our own backyard.

If your blog were a food, what food would it be?
Tapas. Hopefully good Tapas.

Speaking of food, do you have a favourite Toronto lunch spot?
Mercato on Toronto Street during the work week and The Good Bite on Yonge St. My kids hold court at The Good Bite on weekends, devouring their old school milkshakes. Of course, I always enforce the parental "share" rule with the shakes.

If you could gather all of the bloggers of the world together into one room and tell them one thing, what would it be?
Please link to my blog, The Client Side! My ego needs constant Technorati feeding.

Have any advice for would be bloggers? What do you think is the best route to raise a blog's profile?
Advice? Well, blogging is a commitment that can border on obsession. If you are pale white in the middle of August, it has become an obsession. Get outside and breathe the smog for heavens sake.

Seriously though, I would like to see more focus on meaningful and insightful content rather than those who simply post a rehash of the news you can get anywhere else. That approach is getting a bit tired.

And, we all need to remain cognizant that the average Joe (or Jill) does not yet understand what blogging is really all about. The whole social media area (including podcasting) is still nascent. Facebook is managing to extend our reach and involve new groups of people who are likely reading blog posts via Facebook profile pages without even knowing they are blog posts. It is interesting to be a part of this world and watch it grow and blossom.

Anything else you'd like to add?
I am teaching the Canadian Marketing Association's eMarketing Professional Certificate Course starting in September 2007. It is a great program covering all aspects of online and digital marketing. There are a few spot left, so if anyone is interested either check out my blog or the www.the-cma.org for details.


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