Council Post: How Instagram Checkout Can Help Influencer Marketing Explode

When it comes to marketing, there’s a lot to love about Instagram Checkout. By providing consumers with a more seamless, one-click purchase experience without having to leave their Instagram feed, the new program helps retailers increase conversions and sales volume. Brands will also be able to …

Quarantine Quality Time Episode 3: Paul Meyers

The goal of the video series is to connect and inspire our community amidst uncertain times.


Hello everyone! Brandon here, welcome back today I have Paul Meyers from Clark Communications. He’s a local entrepreneur who has started some awesome shop local initiatives. How are you today, Paul?

Hey, excellent Brandon, how are you, buddy?

I’m good! I got a nice sleep last night.

You’re looking good. You’re looking good.

Thanks, man! You as well, you’ve got a sweet little background there.

Yeah, that’s my office, isn’t it awesome?


I love green screens. They make me feel so good!

So my first question for you today, Paul, is. How has the pandemic affected you and your workplace?

Yeah, I think much like everybody else Brandon, uh you know I know at Clark Communications they’ve pretty much closed down the office I think maybe just Scott uh and um my sister are there Cheryl. Uh, but pretty much that’s closed, everybody is working from home. You know we’re all in great communication with Slack and all of the awesome tools that that uh technology bring to us uh I can assure you at the end of all of this everybody is going to know Zoom very well. And I think business will change forever with the power of these tools because we can get a lot done without having to necessarily travel someplace. So it’s affected us much like it’s affected everybody else you know uh hand sanitizers everywhere uh. You know everybody is keeping their distance even I keep my dog when I walk him. I keep my dog away from other dogs who knows. Um, but we’ll get through this we’ll get through this. I mean it’s like anything I always say tough times don’t last tough people do and it’s just a matter of helping everybody out as much as you can neighbours, family, friends you know co-workers um uh your clients. It’s all about being there for them right this minute.

Absolutely and you started a new initiative shop local can you tell us a little about that?

Yeah, I just I just wanted to bring together uh local business owners and entrepreneurs into uh its a private Facebook group. I called it uh Support Local Business in North Bay. Because now more than ever and moving forward, we really need to support local people I understand Wal Mart employs a lot of people I understand some of these bigger organizations employ a lot of people. But small business owners make up the backbone of this community. Our Chamber of Commerce plays a super important role, uh in what in what were doing locally. So we I just thought that you know let’s let’s get this group going. Let’s get these business owners inside this group and let’s start sharing what’s working. And maybe what’s not working and any resources that that we can find that will help these local business owners I just wanted to kind of put it in one spot. Get as many business owners in there as possible or even entrepreneurs in there as possible. And uh, let’s start the dialogue let’s start communicating about about you know how how we’re running our business any sort of tips and tricks. I mean, I interviewed a fellow yesterday from Hillcrest Cabinets who who is taking their 3D printing machine. And are printing those face guards and is distributing them to the hospital. I believe at no charge. I mean, this what a great initiative. So that just might spring somebody else into action for something else. New Ontario Brewery is building out hand sanitizers. You like another great guy that’s part of the group so I I just think you can get a lot from all these entrepreneur minded business owners. And that’s why I’ve started this kind of Facebook group um for them. There’s no charge for it there’s no gimmicks to it it’s just let’s get our message out there how can we help each other and support each other’s businesses in these times and then as we go through these times.

Absolutely, and especially with a lot of businesses uh going digital in order to survive this time right now. Paul, you’ve been a champion since the beginning as soon as this started. You were making sure that all these small businesses were connecting and putting their voice out there to make sure that they’re heard.


And I can tell you right now, man, it’s greatly appreciated.

It’s important to engage these people. Like when I reached out to some of these business owners, they’re scared man, they don’t know what’s going to happen. I mean they have people they’ve employed and and they’re concerned for their families and they’re concerned for themselves so just reaching out just having that discussion say look what can I do? And that’s kind of what I’m hoping this group is maybe there’s someone in this group that can help somebody else and and vice versa. Very similar to the BNI formula where it’s businesses helping business grow and expand and really, it’s all about your network and your connections. I’d like to get you know two, three, four, five hundred businesses in this group and just the content and the engagement just to start to bring some great ideas to the table um is is kind of why I put that together. I always I always say I just move fairly quick I worry about mistakes later, and we just keep moving forward.

So Paul, what have you and your family been doing to stay happy and healthy throughout this?

I think my dog is so tired of walking. He’s kind of wondering what the heck this COVID thing is cause he’s getting walked man he he’s exhausted. So uh, that’s that’s kind of what we’re doing we’re just uh we’re doing you know a little bit more walking uh, I’m staying I’m trying to stay away from negativity like I don’t like to watch the news it doesn’t help me in any way. Uh, I will find out being online when COVID is over I don’t need to be watching it I you know it’s only going to you know I just so I try to stay outside of those things. And try to focus on positive stuff now is the time to build a skill set now is the time to more reading now is the time to get get better um you know personally right, take that course you’ve always wanted to take read that book you’ve always wanted to read. You know, do something internally, right.

That’s awesome, yeah, personal development is always key right always be growing. What’s your PSA for the community right now?

We need to stay home and kill this in a short period of time as possible.


The longer we get out in the community and start visiting things and doing things, the worse this is going to get the longer it’s going to be.

It’s not the time to be that person like don’t risk our front line workers don’t put those people in that position. I mean, their employers are investing in plexiglass and everything, but that’s still it’s not doing it. You know they’re still interacting with these individuals. You’re in a shared space. Is there anything else you would like to mention before we sign off Paul?

No just uh you know again I always kind of try to end these things with you know tough times don’t last tough people do so stay home stay safe everybody, uh we will get through this um it’s just a matter of time and uh the more we can stay home the quicker we will get through this. So I I uh appreciate your time uh Brandon you’re doing an awesome job, so keep it up good work.

Thank you, Paul

Okay, thanks so much talk to you after.




Quarantine Quality Time Episode 2: Peter Chirico

The goal of the video series is to connect and inspire our community amidst uncertain times.


Hello everybody! Welcome back, Brandon here from BuzzMasters today I have with me Peter Chirico from the North Bay & District Chamber of Commerce how are you today Peter?

I’m excellent thanks for having me today, Brandon uh so good to see you via uh computer anyways good to see that you’re doing well and healthy and uh following all of those orders from our health professionals of staying isolated and uh at least the social distancing.

Absolutely likewise, Peter, so my first question for you today is, what have you seen in response to this pandemic that has inspired you in some way?

Just people, in general, um the caring attitude the uh wanting to help wanting to to to be able to do something for the rest of the people in our community. Those are the things that uh we’re seeing daily, uh you know from from our members at the chamber from neighbours from family from all sorts of uh different places. And and via the news etcetera, but uh, I try to stay away from the news as much as possible. But uh certainly, there’s some some great stories out there and people just working together because uh we haven’t faced this in a long time or if we have we just didn’t know about it. Um and now working together to get through this uh because we don’t know the breadth uh the length uh how this is going to play out, but certainly, we know what we’re faced with right today.

Absolutely but it’s nice to see everybody coping so well and engaging just like we are right now right, so it’s keeping people connected.

That’s exactly it and and keeping connected through these times where the, uh you know the social isolation social distancing I think is important and and it’s important to remember that uh we as uh humans and citizens of our city etc. We have to be kind to each other we have to reach out to each other we have to take care of each other. Uh because it’s it’s important for our survival number one, it’s important for people’s mental health, uh you this is going to play uh heavily on people’s mental health um the longer this goes on. Uh, the more isolation that there is so uh, it’s important and and I’m trying my very best to reach out to people that I haven’t talked to for a little while or that I know that are isolated. Um and the ability to just reach out and say, is there anything I can do to help you?

So how has um the pandemic actually affected you and your workplace?

We continue to work from home um via obviously computers and uh telephones etc. So um so it has been business not quite usual but uh as close as we can uh we certainly try to stay in contact minimum one to two times a day with the employees with Sue and Patty and Carol to make sure that everything is going well with them and if there’s any issues we’re close as the telephone, text uh email away so yeah there’s been some changes, and we’re working with our partners at the hub, uh to make sure that their needs are met as well should they require photocopying you know any of the uh regular day to day stuff, uh we’re uh allowing admin back into the office only one at a time, uh respecting all of the guidlines that uh we’ve layed down, and you know what onehundred percent buy in by everybody, so it’s been its been really good, and I think at the end of this uh it will bring us closer together as as groups as business people as members uh within this how we treat is each other during this period is going to say a lot about how we treat each other after.

Absolutely well, and being at home, what are you and your family doing to stay happy and healthy throughout all of this?

Um, it’s been it’s trying it certainly is trying I’m sure my wife would like me to be back at work very shortly uh I have no doubt of that, but you know you have to take breaks through this my dog uh my dog who is uh staring at the front window right now wanting to go outside because it’s so nice you know trying to keep ourselves as busy as possible um.

Oh! You didn’t trigger him.

What’s that?

You almost triggered him Pesto is laying on the ground over there.

He’s lying there; he says what? You want to go for a w a l k? yeah, I’ll just spell it. Uh, hopefully, he’s not a spelling dog.

He’s almost there!

We’ve been we’ve been trying to uh you know get exercise uh try to stay away from the fridge uh as much as possible um through this period because I think that uh that has a habit.

It’s so easy!

Oh, it’s right next door now it’s easy uh but uh just trying to take some time, and hey there’s been some binge-watching on Netflix. Uh, you know Ozarks season three just came out.

There you go!

There’s a few of those uh but trying to keep it as normal as possible and make sure that we take care of ourselves. I’ve had some uh health issues over the past number of years uh not today that which is a good thing, uh, but I think I’ve learned that you’ve got to balance it out and you’ve got to take care. And I think that one of the things that everyone has to remember is there is that balance, and we need to maintain the balance somehow.

Do you have any more ideas, insights or recommendations for people adapting to a new way of life right now?

Yeah, forget anything you knew before because it’s all changed. That’s probably be flexible be very flexible.

What’s your PSA for the community right now?

Be good to yourself, be good to the others around you and and just uh take care of yourselves and stay healthy during this period. Especially when it comes to when you’re in stores, or you’re grocery shopping or or wherever you might be. Those people are front line workers and whether that be a doctor a nurse a grocery store clerk, a cashier whatever the case they’re all front line workers right now and and be courteous and be respectful to them. They’re trying to do the best that they possibly can during this trying period, and they’re out there every day, making sure that we get what we need. Be patient, be kind, be courtesy. That’s my PSA for the day.

Well, thank you, Peter! This has been awesome.

Well, thank you, Brandon, and this is a great way to spend some time uh get through the day uh keep uh my uh my wife happy that I’m not uh bugging her or chasing the dogs around the house or anything like that so stay healthy stay safe.

Absolutely it’s time to take Mr. Pesto for a walk.

I think that’s a really good idea and we’ll see you when this is all over Brandon.

Absolutely catch you later, Peter.

Okay ciao



Quarantine Quality Time Episode 1: Helen Francis

The goal of the video series is to connect and inspire our community amidst uncertain times.


Hello, everyone! Brandon here from BuzzMasters today I have with me Helen Francis from the YMCA, and we’re going to talk about adapting to life amidst a global pandemic. How are you today, Helen?

I’m good. How are you?

I am coping I’m excited to do this little video series to get the community engaged with these “new” video meetings that we’ve all been doing.


So oh! we’ve got a little visitor.

Oh hi!

That’s Spinach

Oh wow, that’s a cute name for a cat.

Yeah, Spinach & Pesto, Pesto’s the doggo.

Oh, I like it very nice.

Stay down, lady.

So my first question for you today, Helen, is how has the pandemic affected you and your workplace?

Hmm, It’s been really dramatic. Obviously, as a YMCA, we really work with a lot of people in every single area that we function. So we have health, fitness and aquatics. And of course, all recreational centres are closed. We also have child care services, which at this point and time are all closed as well. And then for our employment and immigrant settlement services, uh, we have some reduced programs and services. So people are working from home and online. I think, though, aside from the program closures and that impacts the community we serve. The hardest part uh for myself and staff team is the unfortunate amount of staff we’ve had to lay off during this time, and that never sits well and it’s uh and we know it’s a scary time for them and it’s awful to have to put people in that position.

And to speak to the YMCA, I can’t tell you how much I miss it. It’s been so ingrained in my life already, and it’s it’s going to be very exciting when I finally get to fly through those doors again and enjoy that space.

Yeah, we’re looking forward to it we’ve had a few members even on the day we had to close that subsequently as we start to reach out to folks and really help them even though we are all kind of locked up in different spaces. Still feel a sense of belonging and breakthrough that loneliness.


There are many folks that share that sentiment, and for a lot of our staff, volunteers, members our clients, it was a second home. So it’s uh been really really tough Uhm I can tell you though if you’re looking for workouts, we do have them available online. So

Well, we will have to put a little link in there for the video.

Absolutely! That would be great.

That was they know how to access that which will be nice.


So on that note, what have you seen happen in response to the pandemic that’s inspired you in some way?

Many many many things, so first, I’m going to focus on our staff and volunteers. So for those that have been laid off, I think they’ve been truly inspirational and motivational. Not only did they accept that this was a situation that we were in um and that have been, I think, really honourable in how they’ve had to take that news. The number of them that have continued to work in what we would call the Y way and express our values of respect and responsibility for the community um they continue to do so, and it’s everything from making sure that their neighbours have got groceries to making up lunch bags that they are sharing with the various shelters for the vulnerable and the homeless. Through to posting rainbows just checking in on staff um all kinds of things. As well as trying to post some um motivational messages and some workouts and things like that too, so it’s a thousandfold that way they continue to reach out. Separately I’m really proud of our YMCA uh family and federation across Canada. Obviously, all YMCAs have been impacted in some way, shape or form. And uh a number are already looking at alternative programming so aside from online workouts. It’s also what else can we do, so a couple of YMCAs are looking at handing over their facilities too for temporary emergency shelters. To help homeless and vulnerable folks during this time um and you know the list goes on, we ourselves are trying to explore some of those options. As well as is there a way we can open up our facility or facilities to support child care services for essential service workers. While always maintaining the health, safety and well being of our staff. And uh the children that would be there too. The scenario that I’m aware of in southern Ontario where a YMCA has been a fitness facility of the YMCA has been handed over to um for temporary emergency shelters they’ve really opened up their gymnasium. And that’s where they’re maintaining the spaces necessary for accommodation and shelter on a 24/7 basis. So yes, they’ve brought in the bunks and the cots. But they’re also of course than allowing folks to access the showers and the washroom facilities. So it’s good, it’s a really necessary approach um not only do we have a housing crisis at the best of times. But it’s exasperated at a time where some of those locations that folks would have been able to find a roof or some shelter have closed. And so it’s putting additional strain on the various crisis centres that do exist. Plus, those crisis centres themselves need to be able to put some social distancing in place. And it tends to mean they can accommodate fewer in the locations that they uh currently own.

Well, that’s amazing for the YMCA to step up like that because you do have so many locations right, so that’s going to be a great help for the community, so thank you, that’s awesome.

It’s exciting to see it, and I think it you know the YMCA really prides itself on being part of the community and being able to respond to community needs so seeing how quickly uh folks have been able to adjust and be agile in their response uh it’s remarkable.

What have you and your family been doing to stay happy and healthy through all of this?

Well, definitely, I think um getting outside for some walks is necessary when you’re cooped up in close proximity to your loved ones no matter how much you love them. Um, it can feel a little bit like you’re on top of each other at times. The other area and I’m going to share a secret with you right now. But it’s um our oldest daughter’s birthday on Sunday, and we have a family of kids that range in age from 25 all of the way down to 13. And they’re game, puzzle crazy um so what we’ve decided to do and are currently planning and plotting in the background is we’re building sort of a scavenger hunt/escape room um game at the house. Because otherwise we can’t really go out and buy anything for her for her birthday um you know we could have the I .o.u of we’ll take you on a shopping trip. Whenever everything gets back to normality but we still wanted to make sure we got a chance to celebrate, so we’re having to tap into our creativity, and no doubt it will break up a little bit of monotony um for the kids on Sunday.

Sorry Spinach keeps jumping up.

How much it’s actually brought people together interestingly enough through all of this. With like all of the even if they’re virtual activities and stuff and you’re getting games and everything at home it’s really and with everybody reaching out to make sure their nonsense* their loved one and the people that are involved in their lives are okay it’s truly amazing to see the empathy really shine out of everybody in our community.

You know I’m I’m really confident that as a unified community with a strong, clear focus that we continue to exhibit those values that we care for each other that we will be able to endure this. And we will reopen um more of our programs and services at the YMCA, and I anticipate fully that they’re going to be more important than ever. We really are here to build healthy communities, and it’s going to be so so important when we get through this. Um, so we’re ready we’re ready to do that. We’re ready to connect the people when they will need it most. And we want to continue to offer our programs and services to enable everyone in our communities to live happy, healthy, active lives. And um without prompting it too much, you know we will need to rely on those donors out there to help us through this so that we can be here to do all of that necessary work um when the time comes. So for folks who are interested, they can always visit our website for updates but also anyone that is in the fortunate position that they’re able to donate to keep us here for the long term that’s fabulous too.

And we have a wonderful community and a wonderful support from donors, so I’m excited to see the response for that.


Thank you so much for your time today Helen this has been awesome! I really appreciate it.

You’re very welcome. It’s been lots of fun! And I’m honoured to be the first person that you get to interview.