profile image

Nick Cowling

President of North America, Citizen Relations

For almost 20 years, Nick has been crafting public relations strategies for clients and advising senior executives on maximizing their communications to deliver direct business results.

As President of Citizen, he’s responsible for providing vision and strategic oversight for a growing client portfolio, including a number of Fortune 500 companies, innovative start-ups and national non-profits.

Prior to Citizen, Nick managed public relations, internal communications, community affairs and the environment portfolio for The Home Depot Canada, where he developed a passion for corporate citizenship, environmental technologies and the power of volunteerism. Having been both the client and the counselor makes Nick's approach (and that of his firm) unique -- designed to make a client's life easier, while delivering results that matter. He has a wide range of industry and sector experience including sustainability, clean technology, financial services, energy, non-profit and retail.

Nick sits on the board of MATCH International Women's Fund

Visit Nick on LinkedIn and on Facebook.
Putin's Olympics Might Flush Russia's Rep Down the

Putin's Olympics Might Flush Russia's Rep Down the Toilet

Beijing 2008 is a case study on how to leverage hosting an Olympics to redefine a nation's image. By all accounts, China earned marketing gold. Russia would be lucky to finish the race at this point. From a communications perspective, it seems clear that Russian President Vladimir Putin is more interested in using the Sochi games to solidify his brand inside Russia rather than engaging with the world. His constant and unbridled attacks against Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay and Transgender (LBGT) rights are certainly aimed at a Russian audience. So far he is not showing any remorse at alienating himself from the rest of the world.
01/28/2014 12:22 EST
Rob Ford Proves It's Not What You Do But How You

Rob Ford Proves It's Not What You Do But How You Respond

The fact is, bad stuff happens. Today, more than ever, the general public does not immediately judge a person or a company when things go sideways. However, they WILL and DO judge the response. Rob Ford is a real time case study on how to take a bad situation and make it a million times worse.
11/14/2013 05:33 EST
What to Know Before Starting Business in

What to Know Before Starting Business in Canada

There's been an onslaught of ink surrounding Verizon's potential entry to Canada and, more recently, the cellular giant's indifference. With this in mind, I'd like to share some communications principles I've used to help American companies come to the Great White North.
09/05/2013 05:53 EDT
How PR Is Extending Its

How PR Is Extending Its Reach

The most common mistake companies make when engaging public relations in the marketing mix is trying to use it as a blunt instrument to simply sell to an audience. I want to issue a wakeup call on how to effectively use PR in a time where it's becoming increasingly more valuable.
07/17/2013 05:03 EDT
Do You Suffer From Corporate Attention Deficit

Do You Suffer From Corporate Attention Deficit Disorder?

In a time where anyone with a smartphone can become a news aggregator or citizen journalist, corporations appear to following suit, and are coming down with a serious lack of continuity in their communications. I'm talking about how understanding what some companies are trying to stand for these days has become an impossible task.
04/25/2013 08:03 EDT
Five Ways to Gain Client

Five Ways to Gain Client Trust

I've looked to neuroscience, anthropology and ethnography to get a better understanding of how trust is truly achieved. I found that trust has five key elements that require active consideration by any organization seeking reputational appeal with its audiences.
02/24/2013 11:09 EST
Why Your Company Needs to Be

Why Your Company Needs to Be "Liked"

Consider the rise of Likelihood to Recommend (L2R) as a business metric with growing appeal. Many large businesses have collapsed complex success metrics to judge their own business by asking customers: "Would you recommend me to others?" -- the foundation of L2R or Net Promoter Scores (NPS).
12/04/2012 08:06 EST
Why Businesses Should Become More

Why Businesses Should Become More Vulnerable

Vulnerability is a business skill that every leader should consider in good times and bad. It's not weak. It takes greater strength to recognize and acknowledge criticism than to will it away. It's not submissive. It's about taking responsibility and being accountable. It's not being afraid to make tough decisions. It's about recognizing the impact of them.
10/24/2012 10:10 EDT
How to Get the Most Bang for Your Marketing

How to Get the Most Bang for Your Marketing Buck

All too often, marketers of all industries will look at one piece of measurement and decide whether a campaign was successful or not. If sales are up, the campaign worked; if sales didn't move, the campaign flopped. But how can you measure the success of each of the campaign's elements? How can you make sure you're getting the most bang out of each of your marketing bucks?
10/08/2012 12:05 EDT
Marketing To Mom: Not As Simple As You

Marketing To Mom: Not As Simple As You Think

Companies discovered years ago that "mom" was the most influential consumer on the planet. She makes a strong majority of all household purchases from groceries, to clothing, to the family car, and also decides where to get services for the family, like banking, insurance and cable, phone and internet. Here are three important insights about moms that every marketer should know.
09/10/2012 05:06 EDT
How to Create Your Brand's

How to Create Your Brand's Story

Of all the stories that interest me, the ones I follow the closest are the stories that last. I watch especially closely when those stories are pitched out by a brand. In today's incredibly rapid and completely democratized media landscape, there are a small number of campaigns that manage to create a lasting impact, and they are able to do this because they follow a solid recipe for success. Here are that recipe's four key ingredients:
06/29/2012 11:55 EDT
PR is More Than

PR is More Than "Nice To Have"

Very often, businesses that serve other businesses put public relations on their "nice to have" list. Some believe that the payoff on PR is too long-term, it doesn't have an impact on sales or have a direct return on investment. The fact is, PR is one of the best ways to target your customer with a relevant message that will make them act. Here are a few things you can do to maximize your PR efforts and deliver big time to your top and bottom lines.
06/13/2012 05:07 EDT
How to Be Creative in Five Easy

How to Be Creative in Five Easy Steps

I love it when clients ask us for a "creative idea." While it's not much to go on, somewhere between the lines it usually means they want something they haven't seen before. The underlying caveat is that the ideas must deliver. Nobody wants to pay for creativity without results.
04/12/2012 02:10 EDT
Can Canada Handle the Retail

Can Canada Handle the Retail Boom?

This isn't just about the arrival of Target. The world of retail is often dramatic and competitive, but more than ever before there is a perfect storm brewing in the Canadian marketplace. This country already has more retailers than it knows what to do with and the sector continues to broaden.
03/23/2012 09:26 EDT
Tips on How to Get the Message

Tips on How to Get the Message Across

Internal communications can be one of the most complex pieces of an organization and yet, it is one area that everybody thinks they understand -- simply because they are an employee. No one would ever suggest that it's not important; however, the lack of understanding also causes some disparity in what is required in order to do communicate properly.
02/23/2012 04:51 EST
What's Hot in Communications? Three New

What's Hot in Communications? Three New Trends.

While trends don't follow a calendar, the New Year certainly summons the temptation to prognosticate. In communications, trends aren't established by all the effort, creativity, and planning they require, but ultimately, by the receptiveness of audiences.
01/13/2012 11:23 EST
How We Can Stand Up to

How We Can Stand Up to Bullies

No celebrity messenger can draw the same level of emotion or heartache that is inherent in the stories of the victims they represent. After all, if we really need Lady Gaga to illustrate why teen suicide is unacceptable, society has deep problems.
12/22/2011 10:14 EST
Corporate Citizenship: Big Cheques Just Don't Cut

Corporate Citizenship: Big Cheques Just Don't Cut it

Picture the grinning exec with the big cheque. While there are companies out there that still fit this description, it's generally become a dated notion. However, that doesn't mean all this "good work" is being done with the most altruistic motives.
12/13/2011 09:33 EST
Why Virtual Shopping Won't Kill Actual

Why Virtual Shopping Won't Kill Actual Stores

One day, retail historians may look back and chuckle as they read the early-2000s' predictions of the death of brick and mortar stores at the hands of online shopping. It appears that the truth (and the future) may well lie somewhere in between the two extremes. A perfect world where people shop in stores, devices at the ready.
12/12/2011 04:39 EST
The Scarcity of Good

The Scarcity of Good Information

In a world that is so readily connected to so much information, it seems totally counterintuitive that useful, timely, relevant information is a rarity. We're all tracking, seeking and consuming more information all the time. The problem is there's so much to sort and filter through to find the good stuff.
11/26/2011 08:18 EST