Ottawa communications firm puts strategic storytelling at the centre of its success

President and CEO Jennifer Stewart, centre, and Syntax Strategic’s team of communications, PR and marketing professionals.
President and CEO Jennifer Stewart, centre, and Syntax Strategic’s team of communications, PR and marketing professionals. Photography by Michelle Valberg (Valberg Imaging) and styling by Camille and Catherine (Rent frock Repeat).

It has often been said that change is the only constant in business – a philosophy the team at Syntax Strategic embraces.

“The communications and marketing landscape is in a constant state of flux,” says Jennifer Stewart, President and CEO, Syntax Strategic. “Industries and organizations need to adapt how they communicate to reach their audience, as well as embrace new tools and strategies to do so effectively.”

In its seventh year, Syntax has grown from a two-person shop to an agency with national breadth and clientele. 

At the helm of their organization is Stewart, who has seen the media landscape change, and has adapted her practice to stay ahead of the curve. 

A changing media landscape

A significant shift in the communications industry has been the changing face of the media. Digital is king and many newsrooms continue to shrink in size. New players have emerged, such as bloggers and online influencers, with significant followings and audiences. 

This has shifted how the team approaches media pitching. 

“It’s more important than ever to have a thorough engagement strategy, be nimble, and take a grassroots approach to what you do,” said Stewart.

According to Stewart, the days of sending out a press release to a mass group of reporters is ‘dead in the water’ and engagement really comes down to customized outreach efforts and relationships.

“Organizations are competing for media space. Rather than casting a wide net for a story, it’s important to determine which reporters would be interested in writing about a particular subject, and being much more strategic than far reaching,” said Stewart.  

Appealing to the eye online

While traditional media is still a big player, online blogs and news sites are expanding by the day. This can impact where an organization invests its communications budget, depending on where their audience is spending time.

“There are a lot of influencers or potential brand ambassadors for an organization that can make a great impact through social engagement,” said Jennifer Madigan, Senior Director of Media Relations and Public Affairs. “Getting the right people to share your message online can be more impactful than any ad. It comes from people that have an established level of trust with your target audience and adds credibility.”  

Social media doesn’t take evenings and weekends off

The face of consumer engagement has evolved and has become a constant for organizations thanks to social media and the 24/7 news cycle. This means that as communicators, you need to constantly monitor the web, and be ready to respond quickly to a crisis.

“Organizations are really under the microscope when a crisis unfolds. A growing area of our business has been training our clients and providing them with strategies to effectively navigate a crisis from a communications standpoint,” said Madigan.

Behind every success is a solid strategy

While change has been abundant in the communications sector, the business remains rooted in strategy and storytelling.

“I don’t see the actual foundation of our industry shifting. The tools expand, and we adapt, but telling a good story is really at the heart of what we do,” said Stewart.

As a team of talented writers, multimedia content producers and communications strategists, Syntax Strategic works with local and national companies to help them get noticed—in the media, online, and by government officials. With a strong business sense at core of their strategies, they work with clients to ensure communications is the driving force to success.