• Dragons’ Den pitch proves successful for CPCF student

    Brock student Cecily Zeppetella, together with her father Pete Zeppetella, entered the Dragons’ Den earlier this month and walked away with not one but two investors.

    The fourth-year Media and Communications student took part in her father’s pitch for Zeppsgear, which produces patented outerwear for labourers working at heights. The company’s jackets allow for safety harnesses to be worn underneath without a risk of choking in the event of a fall.

    The pitch, which lasted about 40 minutes in real time, demonstrated the effectiveness of the gear with a surprise dummy drop from the studio ceiling, catching the Dragons off-guard.

    Zeppetella says the pressure of the pitch combined with that of being on camera and following production’s cues, while wearing warm jackets under studio lights, made for an interesting and exciting experience.

    And the outcome is just what she and her dad hoped for.

    “We’ve had opportunities from investors before, so it was more about the Dragons’ expertise rather than the money for us,” says Zeppetella. “We knew that it would be a good kick-start on the marketing side and that some of the individuals on the panel would be able to help us wanting to regulate or mandate the product.”

    She notes that website traffic spiked after the episode aired on Thursday, Oct. 5, and that the women’s line sold out quickly.

    “We got orders, which was great, but we also had wholesalers and distributors reaching out to us, especially for the women’s side because it’s hard to find good quality women’s workwear,” she says. “We’ve been really focused on the southern part of Ontario, but now we have a lot of people from out west reaching out, and we have a fashion show coming up in B.C. for safety wear for women.”

    Zeppetella, who started at Brock in Business Communication, says she changed majors when she realized how keen she was on media policy and research. These interests and her training have served her well as she has grown more involved in the family business over the past few years, looking at how Zeppsgear might be mandated and thinking creatively about how to get her father’s innovations into broad use.

    Cecily’s experiences in applying policy and research ideas from her CPCF degree really resonates with me,” says Associate Professor Karen L. Smith in the Department of Communication, Popular Culture and Film. “I have seen first-hand that Cecily leverages both classroom and co-curricular opportunities to develop innovative ideas, like enhancing worker safety through Zeppsgear.”

    Zeppetella believes that community involvement should be a big part of any entrepreneurial journey. She says she has worked hard to involve Zeppsgear with different organizations, charities and safety training programs, and has jumped at opportunities to engage, including at Brock.

    “In the Goodman School of Business, Zeppsgear was studied by one of the marketing classes in 2021 as a case study,” she says. “For a startup, I think it’s really important to be connected, especially to growing minds and youth for perspective — and you never know who you’re going to meet.”

    Watch the full Zeppsgear pitch on the Dragons’ Den website.

    Written by Amanda Bishop

    Categories: News

  • Jennifer Good discusses how humanity’s relationship with heat impacts climate action

    This article written by Jennifer Good, Associate Professor of Communication, Popular Culture and Film, originally appeared in The Conversation.

    Humans are a species borne of the heat, as hot and dry temperatures played a key role in our evolution, and many of us (at least in the United States) prefer to be in the heat.

    We as a species have known for decades that the carbon-fuelled actions of some nations meant that devastating heat and related extreme weather events were coming.

    And yet, most of us did nothing.

    The summer of 2023’s unprecedented forest fires, floods and rising ocean temperatures are the consequences of collective inaction and while there are many reasons for these failures to act, humanity’s complex relationship with heat is arguably a critical one.

    The comfort, and dangers, of heat

    At a fundamental level, heat is what allows for humans and the Earth’s biological diversity to exist. A stable core body temperature facilitates human survival and the greenhouse effect facilitates all life on Earth. However, while heat may be essential to life, and desirable to many, too much heat is devastating.

    One way to articulate this complex balance has been to use the metaphor of a fever. If a human’s body temperature increases even a couple of degrees, then an illness is likely occurring. If a person’s core body temperature increases only three to four degrees celsius it can be fatal. Likewise, a rise in planetary temperatures above just 1.5 C could be equally fatal.

    A seemingly easy to understand threshold. However, in practice, communicating a 1.5 C tipping point has been extremely challenging. Humans generally struggle with disentangling short-term daily temperatures from a long-term climatic shift and as a result fluctuations in temperature have been easily misunderstood. And confusion over these questions are readily misused to question the veracity of an anthropogenically induced changing climate.

    All under one greenhouse?

    An early attempt at circumventing our innate fondness for heat in climate change communications was through leveraging the term greenhouse effect — a phrase which notably removes heat from the equation altogether.

    Knowledge of the greenhouse effect goes back to the mid-19th century. In the latter half of the 20th century, the term became an evocative label for what the burning of fossil fuels was doing to the planet.

    But the term is inaccurate.

    The greenhouse effect is the well-established phenomenon of the Earth’s atmosphere trapping the sun’s radiation and allowing the planet to be a warm and hospitable place. Using the greenhouse effect as a term referring to the warming of the planet due to the burning of fossil fuels conflated a naturally occurring and well-established phenomenon with an unfolding anthropogenic disaster to confusing results.

    In response to this limitation, global warming increasingly became the terminology of choice for the changing climate — phasing out the banal inadvertent climate modification which had also been in use since the 1970s. So much so that by the 1990s, it became the single most used term. But this also had challenges.

    Warming has a certain coziness and as climate change researchers Julia Corbett and Jessica Durfee highlighted, ‘global warming needs a more salient metaphor that emphasizes its seriousness, immediacy and scientific credibility.’

    Global warming was also a narrow term, as global average temperature increases would cause a range of extreme weather effects

    In response to these limitations, the term climate change gradually came to replace global warming as the most widely accepted and used descriptor. Though more recently, this somewhat benign term has been altered again by some to more accurately address the urgency of the situation.

    For example, in 2019 The Guardian moved from using climate change to the terms climate emergency, crisis or breakdown in response to climatic effects of ever-increasing severity.

    This confused discourse has led to even further confusion and arguably hampered climate change mitigation efforts for decades.

    Too much of a good thing

    Research indicates that in the summer of 2022, over 60,000 people in Europe alone died from extreme heat. July 2023 was the hottest month ever recorded and it is increasingly looking like 2023 will be the hottest year on record. Heat-related deaths are mounting and the heat is being exacerbated by raging fires and extreme ocean temperatures.

    Human beings, alongside all life, exist on Earth because of a delicate celestial balance of gasses that trap the sun’s warmth. For millions of years, this greenhouse effect has made Earth a miraculously habitable orb in the coldness of space.

    While all human beings have a complex — and often positive — relationship with heat, in the Northern Hemisphere it is something which many of us particularly crave. However, the reckless pursuit of it (among other comforts) through the burning of fossil fuels has turned heat from a source of life to a harbinger of doom for all.

    It is only through confronting this complex relationship — by accepting the inherent dangers of more heat — that we can hope to seriously pursue real action on fossil fuel emissions.

    Categories: News

  • CPCF mourns the loss of Professor Emeritus William “Bill” Hull

    The Department of Communication, Popular Culture and Film mourns the death of Professor Emeritus William “Bill” Henry Nelles Hull, who passed away Wednesday, Nov. 2 at the age of 93.  

    In the early 1980s, Hull was one of the founders of the Interdisciplinary Program in Communication Studies from which the Department of Communication, Popular Culture and Film (CPCF) evolved following a merger with Film Studies more than two decades ago.

    Hull retired from Brock’s Department of Politics, as it was then known, in 1995. He was a major scholar in Canadian and Comparative media policy, especially in the area that used to be known as “broadcasting policy.”

    To learn more about Bill Hull and his impact on Brock University, please read The Brock News article.

    His funeral will take place on Thursday, Nov. 10 at 11 a.m. in St George’s Anglican Church in St Catharines. Reception to follow.

    Categories: News

  • Communication grads credit experiential learning for quick career success

    Ben Skippen (BA ’20) is one of several graduates from Brock’s Department of Communication, Popular Culture and Film (CPCF) translating theory and skills training from their degrees into growing careers.

    The Media and Communication Studies alumnus returned to campus for Wednesday’s legacy Convocation ceremony, travelling from Ottawa, where he began working shortly after graduation.

    A woman in a blue robe sits in front of a blue background holding red flowers.

    Media and Communication graduate Kristal Lee (BA ’22)

    Skippen landed full-time work as an army public affairs officer, first at the Royal Canadian Navy Headquarters and presently on the Military Personnel Command public affairs team at the National Defence Headquarters.

    “My degree was useful and relevant to the work I do,” Skippen says. “Homework examples like creating a communications plan, social media, news articles and presentations are all skills I use on the job.”

    He isn’t alone in crediting the experiential side of his education with his career success.

    Media and Communication grad Kristal Lee (BA ’22) now works in Hong Kong as a Digital Content Executive managing search-engine optimization, content creation and performance assessment of different platforms to assist her marketing team.

    “I think the best course and the course I have gained the most from is COMM 4F00, which gave me a chance to gain experiences before graduation,” says Lee. “This was a very precious opportunity for me to get what I wanted to learn and try to put the knowledge to work.”

    A woman in a white shirt stands in front of a grey background.

    Business Communication graduate Claire Terrio (BA ’21)

    Claire Terrio (BA ’21) majored in Business Communication and converted her CPCF internship at Framar in Niagara Falls into a job as a Social Media Specialist for the company, marketing to 1.1 million followers across platforms through creative content creation. She says she learned how to integrate marketing in CPCF.

    “Having a marketing mindset when approaching every task I’m assigned at work has helped me immensely to think strategically with the brand’s identity, positioning and goals in mind,” says Terrio, who is now pursuing a master’s degree in Professional Communication at Toronto Metropolitan University. “This marketing background has given me an edge and made my transition from working on assignments to working on real marketing campaigns fairly seamless, which I am grateful for.”

    Donnicia Ellis-Dawson (BA ’21), who majored in Business Communication and minored in Tourism, says she didn’t know how well her degree had prepared her until she was on the job.

    “What I loved about the Business Communication program is that it’s so broad, you have the chance to study multiple different career paths like marketing, human resources and event planning all within your four years,” says Ellis-Dawson, who now works as an assistant in the unscripted content department at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). “Not only that, but Media Communications overlaps with the program, allowing you to learn about journalism, public relations and more.”

    A woman in a beige blazer and black shirt stands in front of a beige background.

    Business Communication graduate Donnicia Ellis-Dawson (BA ’21)

    Adjunct Professor Kate Cassidy has helmed the CPCF internship course, COMM/FILM/PCUL 4F00, for the past six years. She says that a greater need for communication professionals has given Brock CPCF grads a chance to shine in the job market.

    Indeed, this year, many were hired even before graduating.

    “During the pandemic, the shift to remote work and digital channels significantly increased the need for tech-savvy employees with strong communication skills,” says Cassidy. “Graduates with expertise in business communications, media and film are in high demand.”

    She also believes the networking, professional skill-building and reflective practice connected to experiential learning helps students stand out to potential employers.

    “As hiring has gotten more competitive recently, I have had employers reach out to me to help them get in touch with my CPCF students,” says Cassidy. “They’re seeking out grads who have communication skills along with workplace experience.”

    Categories: News

  • Canada Games Research Spotlight: Duncan Koerber

    Assistant Professor of Communication, Popular Culture and Film Duncan Koerber’s research focuses on the teaching of writing skills and the theory of crisis communication. In crisis communication, he is particularly interested in understanding why public crises develop in social media, and why social media crises have become so common and so damaging to organizations’ images and people’s careers. He also studies media and journalism history.

    Koerber is one of 11 Brock researchers and scholars who received funding under the 2020-21 round of the VPR Canada Games Grant program. Here, he discusses his research project titled “Social Media and Large Sporting Events: Social Media Crisis Monitoring of the Niagara 2022 Canada Games.”

    Please give a brief overview of your research project

    This project is about how crises during large sporting events are sparked or amplified by social media users on Twitter. I’m also interested in researching best practices for dealing with crises that occur on social media.

    Part One of the project, now completed, saw a Brock student produce a literature review report of previous studies on the use of social media during large sporting events. Part Two of the project will see a Brock student use public relations industry software to monitor Canada Games-related Twitter posts during the event in August. What’s uncertain is that we obviously don’t know if a social media crisis will occur during the Canada Games. But we’ll be ready, capturing all the Games-related tweets. If a crisis happens, we can use the tweets as our primary source material for analysis on many different levels.

    What do you expect will be the outcome of your research?

    This project will generate new research on social media content during one large sporting event. As well, Part One of the project, the literature review, found that very little research has been done in this specific area. Instead, researchers in different fields have been studying slightly different topics. I hope this study will bring together these streams of research and push them forward in a new direction. With the Canada Games as a central case study, the project will offer insights into social media, crisis communication and large sporting events.

    How will this contribute to knowledge, or understanding, of the Canada Summer Games? 

    This project is a case study of one Canada Games, which will provide analysis and advice for social media managers of future Canada Games. But it will also link this major Canadian sporting event to others like the FIFA World Cup and Olympic Games. Researchers and practitioners studying those events will be able to build on the analysis and advice from the Canada Games.

    How did you become interested in this research?

    For the past three years, I’ve been working on a book about social media and crisis communication. The study of social media in crisis situations is a relatively new research area. Even less research has been done on sports and social media crisis. I’m a big sports fan too, so this project brings these interests together.

    How do you plan on sharing your research? 

    The research will be disseminated in a journal article, likely in the area of communication studies or public relations.

    Categories: News

  • Film fans yell ‘action’ on a double-feature wedding

    In 2013, Teagan Chevrier met Tyrell Lisson on Facebook, where the two began chatting in a group for incoming first-year students to Brock University and noticed they had similar interests: both were film studies majors and enjoyed listening to Fall Out Boy and Bring Me the Horizon. They agreed to meet up during the second day of orientation week to wander around campus – and ended up spending the next eight hours together. “We had so much in common, it was spooky,” Chevrier, a film editor, says. “The time just flew by.”

    Within a week and a half, they were officially an item.

    At first, Lisson, a film producer, was drawn to Chevrier’s punk aesthetic. And he quickly realized her temperament perfectly complemented his. “She’s the yin to my yang,” he says. “I can get pretty wound up about things, and she’s there to ground me.” Chevrier felt like she had finally met someone she could talk to forever.

    And they’ve been talking ever since. After six years of dating, Lisson decided to propose while in Hawaii on a vacation with Chevrier’s family. On the second day of the trip, while the rest of the family was watching hockey playoffs, Lisson suggested they take a stroll on Waikiki Beach. Choppy waves crashing onto the shore kept Lisson from getting down on one knee, but he clinched the “yes” regardless.

    They chose 10/10/2020 as their wedding date because Chevrier liked the symmetry and selected The Elm Hurst Inn & Spa in her hometown of Ingersoll, Ont. as the venue because, she says, “we didn’t want to do something that was ‘modern city,’ but we also didn’t want to go full-on ‘wedding in a barn.’”

    Due to pandemic restrictions, the Elm Hurst pushed their wedding into 2021, but rather than wait, the couple opted to keep the special date they’d already picked out. They cut down their guest list from 150 to 25 and hosted an outdoor wedding in Chevrier’s parents’ backyard. Chevrier sourced vintage mismatched glassware from flea markets and thrift shops to avoid drink mix-ups and served individual picnic baskets complete with a single serving of prosecco. Her Kleinfeld dress didn’t arrive in time, so Chevrier found a vintage 1970s wedding dress on Kijiji, which her grandmother altered into a two-piece set. Lisson wore an H&M suit he already owned, and the couple exchanged last-minute $70 rings from Mejuri. Though little went as planned, Chevrier says, “it turned into a perfect day with no stress because it was so low-key.”

    The highlight of the ceremony involved handfasting, an ancient Celtic tradition in which a knot is tied around the couple’s hands to signify their intent to marry. (It also happens to be the origin of the phrase “tying the knot.”) Chevrier was drawn to the tradition because of her Scottish heritage and because she “liked the idea that if the situation isn’t perfect, you’re doing this for now with the understanding you will revisit it and make it official.”

    On Oct. 30, 2021, a little more than a year later, the couple made it official, as their original invitees descended on the Elm Hurst. Their second wedding was almost a “carbon copy” of the first, says Lisson, with the same florist and photographer – only this time things went according to plan.

    At the second wedding, they employed an innovative way for the guests to request the bride and groom kiss without clinking glasses: answering movie trivia. Chevrier, who wrote questions for each table thinking there wouldn’t be much interest, didn’t expect the competitive showdown. “Tables were fighting other tables to get the answers,” she says.

    The wedding turned into an impromptu concert when groomsmen took turns playing songs by the Band and the Proclaimers. A friend wrote the couple a song as a wedding gift and performed it for the first dance – and had it pressed onto seven-inch vinyl so they could treasure it forever.

    Now, the pair can cherish double the nuptial memories. “We’re so lucky we got to have two weddings,” Lisson says. “People continually make the joke, When are you going to have a third?”

    By Isabel B. Slone, Special to the Toronto Star
    Feb. 27, 2022

    CPCF alumni stories
    Categories: News

  • Congratulations to Nick Printup

    The Department of Communication, Popular Culture and Film congratulates Nick Printup, one of four winners of the National Share Your Roots Virtual Reality Competition hosted by Uber, the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business and ORIGIN.

    Printup, a Media and Communication Studies graduate, pitched an idea for a virtual reality video to create a cultural learning experience about the origin of Lacrosse. He was selected as a semi-finalist (1 of 15 from across Canada) at which point the competition called for people to vote for the semi-finalists online to aid the judges in making their decisions.

    Having been selected as one of four recipients, he will be awarded a video production of I approximately $35,000 to turn his idea into a (virtual) reality. Printup hopes to begin filming by the end of the summer within the Niagara Region.

    Congratulations Nick!

    Read Nick’s bio here.

    Categories: News

  • 2020 Dobson Case Competition

    Start putting your teams together!

    To learn more click here

    Categories: Events, News

  • Feb. 25: CPCF Research Forum

    Another research forum will be held on March 10. Speakers will be announced shortly.

    Categories: Events, News

  • Feb. 4 – Research Forum

    Additional research forums will be held on Feb. 25 and Mar. 10. Speakers will be announced shortly.

    Categories: Events, News