Canadian Rental Service

Editorial: March 2016

Patrick Flannery   

Features Business Intelligence

If you take a look at the cover of this issue, you will see that Canadian Rental Service is celebrating its 40th year in print in 2016. That’s an incredible run for a Canadian trade publication. I’m proud to say the magazine is still going very strong, and humbled to be one of the caretakers of such a long-standing institution in this industry. We’ll be putting out a special retrospective issue in October of this year – do contact me if you have any stories or ideas that you’d like to see included.

Probably the biggest change in the business world since Canadian Rental Service launched is the invention of the Internet and all its associated communication technologies. As industries go, it is safe to say ours is still not the most “connected” when it comes to digital and social media. I learned this soon after becoming editor of this magazine. One of my first tasks when joining Canadian Rental Service was to lead the promotion campaign for the 2012 Canadian Rental Mart. I was horrified at the time to discover that the show lacked a web page, a Facebook page, a Twitter account or any of the other shiny new digital communications channels that marketing people swoon over.  I quickly set about rectifying all this and launched a blitz of email and online messages to stimulate interest in the event, in addition to the regular articles and ads that had always appeared in the magazine.

So it was quite disconcerting when, early in 2012, our sales manager, Ed Cosman, came to me saying that registrations were unusually slow compared to prior years. I was baffled. How could all my efforts, combined with the things we had usually done anyway, actually be producing a decline in registrations? Ed, who had been in the industry for 25 years, had the answer. He suggested we send the paper registration form out to our readership list in a mass fax. To say I was skeptical would be an understatement. I hadn’t sent or received a fax for several years. I didn’t even have one hooked up in my office.

Ed was right. He sent out faxes and the registrations began pouring in.

Three years later, there is less digital disconnect, but I know many of you still view social media as a frightful waste of time. And for the most part you are right. Sifting through kitten videos on Facebook or scrolling past photos of people’s meals on Twitter is not an activity that is going to add anything to your bottom line. The promise of social media was that it was a way to cut through the general ocean of Internet chatter and deliver personalized content and connections. Instead, it has become its own ocean of white noise, full of useless messages you don’t have the time or inclination to wade through for anything useful.


Notwithstanding all of that, I’m going to go ahead and encourage you to give social media one more try with two specific suggestions that should enhance your ability to see what you want without wasting hours on stuff you don’t.

The first suggestion is to download a Twitter app to your phone (it is free) and follow a limited number of industry companies and people that might have interesting things to say (@CRSmagazine is a good one). I think Twitter is potentially one of the best of the online tools for business, because it essentially produces a list of personalized headlines like a news ticker from the sources of your choice.

The second suggestion is to turn on notifications on Facebook pages you like and use those notifications on your phone to tell you when something of interest has been posted.  To turn on notifications, simply go to the Facebook page you want to follow and hover your mouse over the Like button. When you click on the Notifications option, you’ll be able to select what kinds of content will trigger a message on your phone. Then you can pick and choose when to look at a certain page without having to scroll through a whole timeline full of nonsense.   

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