About Us


Over the past two weeks the Annex AI Group met to start formalizing our approach to AI implementation and the increasing array of available tools. The past year of informal experimentation, starting with the event team’s trial of the ContentWare event marketing platform last June, has shown us that there are a lot of opportunities to help optimize and improve our operations. In fact, too many.

The primary goal of the AI Group will be to turn that firehose of opportunity and potential distraction into a drinkable stream. To do that we’ve agreed on a few guiding principles around AI adoption and testing. We believe that in a rapidly evolving field like AI, good enough will trump perfect every time. We’ll implement some low-hanging fruit and move on. We will also heavily favour solutions that are automated and/or fit into our existing workflow and tools. The goal is not to create new processes or work, but to streamline and improve our existing jobs. And disciplined prioritization will be the key to progress, as there are far too many options than we could ever chase in a given year, with more appearing daily.

With those guidelines in mind, we’re searching and evaluating solutions in the following four “buckets”:
  1. Content generation/marketing & promotion: This is for editorial content as well as event and audience marketing. We are looking at existing tools both free and paid, some of which are already very powerful. One example of this is the SEO-friendly headline generator that digital is building into WordPress. The prototype I’ve seen is intuitive and effective.
  2. Workflow/process improvements: Areas this will help include social media automation, automated transfer of data between systems (e.g. from Eventbrite to Omeda), ad ops and more.
  3. Client- and reader-facing revenue generation: AI-driven search for websites or buyers’ guides, content recommendation, sponsored content packages informed by reader behaviour, and cost-effective marketing services are all options here.
  4. Sales tools: These would aim to enhance customer service (AI-generated email copy explaining digital campaign reports), sales efforts (AI-informed sales letters personalized to each client), and better use of AI itself (a repository of sales prompts to allow sales to use AI tools more effectively and faster). Several Annex sales professionals are already experimenting with Chat GPT to help write prospecting emails, so stay tuned.

A DALL-E generated poster promoting a firefighter career fair produced in the style of Van Gogh. Sorry Vincent, you deserve better.

We’re also looking at guidelines to help Annexers decide what is a valid use of AI, where the best opportunities lie, and what should be avoided. Thanks to Stacy’s initiative, we’ve already built detailed guidelines for editorial. I’ve reviewed and added to these, and currently Stacy and Laura Aiken are having a last look before we share a draft with editors and group publishers for feedback.

In short, we are meeting the AI challenge and opportunities head on. If you come across any ideas involving your role, please share with a member of the AI Group – Stacy, Vesna, Kim B, Kyle, Stef C, Nithya, Anne, Paul G or myself.

I am on vacation dodging wildfires the next two weeks, during which time Anne and Paul G will put together the weekly Shout & About. If you have any news to share, please reach out to them.

For those who celebrate, may this Eid bring you blessings and happiness. Enjoy your Canada Day long weekend and the Monday holiday, but maybe skip the fireworks if you’re in one of the many dry zones. And of course, do good work and be good to work with.

Scott Jamieson, President & COO
sjamieson@annexbusinessmedia.com; mobile: 519-410-4000

Virtual Trolls

Looks like everyone was Going Beyond this week. To see more of these, visit The Wall.

To Morgen, for Going Beyond
From Jean – “I was having a tough time with my flights being cancelled and rescheduled for an upcoming aquaculture conference. When I was having trouble going back and forth with the Air Canada agent, Morgen stepped in and helped get it done! Thanks Morgen! Hopefully, this is the last of our travel worries.” Editor’s Note: “Last of our travel worries”? I’m laughing ‘til I cry over here.

To Alex R, for Going Beyond
From Stacy – “In an unexpected turn of events, Alex bravely stepped in to moderate the OHS Safety Roundtable, as the editor was unable to. Despite having limited time to prepare for this important role, Alex went above & beyond to ensure an extremely successful roundtable. He displayed confidence and comfort in the role, facilitating a best-in-class event.” Editor’s Note: We also learned a valuable lesson here – trying to moderate a webinar or roundtable while on the road is stacking the odds against us and should be avoided.

To Trina, for Going Beyond
From Monica – “After looking after my emails during my holidays, I had a family crisis and Trina without hesitation kept email forwarding on and kept production going with checking all the magazine ads. THANK YOU TRINA!”

What's Working

Sharing our expertise
Vesna spent last weekend in exotic Detroit attending and presenting at the Alliance of Area Business Publishers’ Annual Conference. According to some of our partners also at the event, Vesna “took over Detroit” with a high-quality presentation on data and the productization of data, as well as shared some of our success stories around content gating and Lead Driver.

Evolving Work 4.0
I’m a big fan of the Wednesday office days, as the energy and communication are at a peak and a lot of communication and networking gets done. The other days lack that critical mass, making meeting or communication much less effective. In response to that trend, we will move to two common in-office days as of September 18th. As initially outlined in Work 4.0, our hybrid 35-hr schedule will still comprise two in-office days coupled to three work-from-home office days. Rather than a second random day, however, we will all work from the office over the same two days. Stay tuned for more details to come in July.

Online fitness classes for July start Tuesday July 4th. The classes offered are: Meditation & Stretch, Yoga Flow, Cardio Kickboxing and Zumba. Classes run every Tuesday at noon for 50 minutes on Zoom.

If you are interested in participating in a live yoga and pilates class, and are in the Gordon Baker Road office on Wednesday, feel free to check out the Live Class schedule for July and August. Live Classes run every Wednesday at noon on the 5th floor in Unit 505.

If you’re interested, feel free to sign up today!

Some points to note:
  • Registration is required and is on first come, first serve basis as space is limited.
  • Select “Adgar Properties” from the drop down menu for Zoom classes. Select 111 GBR for the live yoga and pilates.
  • Business Address: 111 Gordon Baker Road, Toronto.

These are complimentary fitness classes designed to get you moving and are free for all to attend regardless of your location.

Ad sales training
Our next ad sales lunch & learn will be Wednesday, July 19, so save the date. The 30-min session will focus on the new Floodlight content marketing unit in our enews.

My Annex Facts

Did you know that there is a well-stocked Digital Sales FAQ section on My Annex that answers almost every question you’ve ever asked or even thought of asking, including web stat benchmarks, paid social media campaigns, average webinar attendance, the list of e-products that offer leads and much more? Surf My Annex’s Cheat Sheet section for more.

Michelle’s Covey Corner

Readers often decide in 10 seconds whether to skim, respond, put off or delete an email (yikes!). Covey did a survey with more than 200 respondents to develop a Top 10 List of good email habits to write effective emails.

  1. Make sure the purpose of each email is clear in the subject line and first few sentences.
  2. Double check spelling of names, especially recipients.
  3. The information is necessary (nothing extra) and complete (nothing missing, including any attachments) - give them only the context they need.
  4. Include a clear deadline of expected response time (can include this in the subject or in bold).
  5. Keep the email content to two paragraphs max – otherwise, consider picking up the phone (or include an attachment with additional information if appropriate).
  6. When you respond with “thank you”, explain why you’re appreciative.
  7. Send or reply only to recipients that need the information – don’t cc everyone “just because”.
  8. Know your audience – always be professional and use the appropriate tone.
  9. Customize your greeting/message – make it personal, especially for those outside of your organization. No one wants to feel like they are on a “mailing list”.
  10. Take time to proofread your emails for mistakes before you send them.

Use this checklist for your next email. How long does it take you to scan your message and understand the purpose? Set your timer for 10 seconds and give it a try.