Friday, July 27, 2007

Freeze Frame with Lisa Kirbie (LoyalistPR 06/07)

Freeze Frame
is a regular feature of the LoyalistPR blog where we post our findings on what our illustrious alumni are up to and how much they’re making these days (just kidding!).

Today's Freeze Frame features Lisa Kirbie (LoyalistPR 06/07). Prior to enrolling in the Post-Grad Public Relations Program at Loyalist College, Lisa completed a B.A. in Sociology from the University of British Columbia (Okanagan).

We reached Lisa at her new home in Ottawa (no doubt munching on a tasty Beaver Tail).

Freeze Frame: What are you up to these days, Lisa?

Lisa Kirbie: I am the Chief of Staff to Senator Grant Mitchell on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. I manage the budget and the staff; advise the Senator on all political matters; write communications pieces, such as our electronic newsletter, and am responsible for media relations. I also handle the big legislative issues: this past session the Senator was the Senate sponsor of Bill C-288, Kyoto Protocol Implementation. This was a feat unto itself because private members bills rarely make it through the House of Commons much less receive Royal Assent, particularly when your Party is in opposition (not government). Right now we are in the process of writing two bills to be introduced in the Senate this fall.

FF: So, what are the three most important lessons you learned in LoyalistPR?

LK: First, the importance of seeing the “big picture” – too many times people get paralyzed by the details (although they are important!) and fail to see the end goal. I now determine the end goal first and work backwards to figure out my plan of action.

Second, the value of networking. PR is all about building relationships and you never know when a contact is going to come in handy in this business. Also, because of the nature of PR, your reputation is one of your most valuable tools – relationship building helps develop your social capital.

Finally, always give your best effort. It reflects poorly on your abilities and you lose a valuable learning tool when you don’t – and it doesn’t cut it in the real world either.

FF: In your opinion, what does it take to find a job in PR these days?

LK: You need to know where you want to go – have a plan. Be confident in your abilities and don’t be afraid to highlight them – showcase your strengths because no one is going to do it for you. Be passionate about what you believe in and what you want to do. And choose your attitude (yes, Kerry’s FISH! Philosophy has rubbed off on me) – it takes just as much energy to be miserable as it does to be happy. And happy is way more fun!

FF: Any words of wisdom for current or future LoyalistPR students?

LK: Surrender yourself to the program and open your mind to new experiences and fresh ideas. Realize that the people around you are your best resouces (and many will become your best friends!)

FF: And finally, if you could have lunch with any major political figure in history (dead or alive), who would it be and where would you book your lunch reservations?

LK: As a PR graduate skilled in event planning, I would prefer to organize a lunch “gathering”... My guest list would include former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, former President Bill Clinton, Ms. Nellie McClung (one of the "famous five" who battled in the Canadian courts and parliament to have women declared "persons" under the law), Martin Luther King Jr. and Michaelle Jean, our current Governor General. (Seriously, did you think I could pick just one!!) I would take them to some dive in Quebec – where we could sit in the smoky haze of live blues and great jazz, where aged whiskey, and secrets, flow freely.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Honey, we shrunk the logo

I found myself in Kingston's lululemon athletica this afternoon while shopping on Princess Street.

As the shop’s ebullient staff (excuse me, ambassadors) waxed poetic about the seaweed-woven t-shirts (I kid you not) and odour-free workout gear I was trying on, I found myself struck by something quite odd. The lululemon logo, it turned out, was barely visible on any of the items inside my fitting room.

For someone who grew up in an era of Ralph Lauren polo ponies and Benetton rugby shirts, I was somewhat taken aback. After all, here was a brand built almost entirely on lifestyle and the customer experience rather than logo and media hype. Mystifying.

In our logo-crazed culture (for a detailed history of the phenomenon, check out a great read by Naomi Klein, No Logo), lululemon offers a refreshing alternative to mob aesthetics.

And while I walked out of the store without making a purchase (seriously, $59 for a t-shirt?), I found myself faintly impressed that a company would take such a calculated marketing risk.

In historical terms, I believe such companies are known as “trailblazers”.

P.S. For more on lululemon athletica, stay tuned for the fall launch of our Podcast CafĂ©, a collection of Canadian case studies that’ll give you something to talk about…

Monday, July 16, 2007

Freeze Frame with Angel Laming (LoyalistPR 06/07)

Freeze Frame is a regular feature of the LoyalistPR blog where we post our findings on what our illustrious alumni are up to and how much they’re making these days (just kidding!).

Today’s Freeze Frame features Angel Laming (LoyalistPR 06/07). Prior to enrolling in the Post-Graduate Public Relations Program at Loyalist College, Angel earned her diploma in Print Journalism from Loyalist College.

Freeze Frame: So what are you up to these days, Angel?

Angel Laming: These days I am working with Big Brothers and Big Sisters to ensure that every child in Leeds and Grenville who is in need of a friend finds one. I am pretty much a "friend finder." There is a lot of children who eat alone at lunch or who play alone at recess and these children deserve to have fun just like the rest of the kids. So I send in a teen or adult mentor for one hour a week for the whole school year to play with a child and make them feel just as special as the other children.

FF: What would you say are the three most important lessons you’ve learned in LoyalistPR?

AL: The three most important lessons would be: to say
thanks, the FISH principles and not to eat KFC!

FF: What does it take to find a job in public relations?

AL: I found a job right out of school. I was only finished my internship [at Big Brothers and Big Sisters] about three weeks before I started here at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Leeds and Grenville. You need to have that portfolio as well… remember to always use your portfolio.

FF: What’s your advice for current or future LoyalistPR students?

AL: The advice that I would offer is in order for others to respect you, you have to respect yourself. If you want a friend, you have to be a friend.

FF: What was the latest movie you saw and how would you rate it?

AL: The latest movie I saw was Ghost Rider (last night) and I would rate it a 5/10... it kind of sucked.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Confessions of a newsprint junkie

I have a confession to make: I hate online newspapers.

Reading screen after screen of digital news items, my vision gets blurry and my brain starts to hurt.

But give me a bulging Saturday edition of the Toronto Star that leaves my fingers stained with black ink and I am one happy gal.

Any bona fide newspaper reader knows the true joy of the print experience extends beyond the simple act of catching up on the news of the day.

There’s the clipping of great articles for (in my case) sharing with my students; the daily crossword or suduko puzzle to challenge the mind; the occasional water park coupon or new theatre production announcement; and of course, the scanning of the latest Dilbert cartoon for a bit of a laugh.

Granted, online newspapers do have their perks. Like the video footage that’s available at the click of a mouse. Or the audio interviews with key figures in current affairs.

Ah, but can you do the “commuter fold” while riding the VIA with I think not.

Friends and colleagues send me great links to online articles all the time. And I appreciate that, don’t get me wrong. But I have been known (with apologies to the environmentalists) to print the articles and read them that way.

My friends point out that I’m killing trees. I fire back that their obsession with online newspapers places more stress on our already over-extended power grids (a bit of a reach, I know, but so far it’s the best I can come up with).

And let's not forget that most newsprint these days is completely recyclable, and also finds multiple after-uses for children’s art projects, hamster cage carpeting and papier mache construction.

At the end of the day, I suppose the most important thing is not so much where we get our news, but that we’re sure to stay informed about what’s taking place in our world.

Whatever your preference, make every effort to stay current: read all about it!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Freeze Frame with Jess Douglas (LoyalistPR 06/07)

Freeze Frame is a regular feature of the LoyalistPR blog where we post our findings on what our illustrious alumni are up to and how much they’re making these days (just kidding!).

Today’s Freeze Frame features Jessica Douglas (Loyalist PR 06/07). Prior to enrolling in the Post-Grad Public Relations Program at Loyalist College, Jess completed a diploma in Radio Broadcasting at Loyalist.

Freeze Frame: What are you up to these days?

Jessica Douglas: I’m currently working as the Operations Co-ordinator with PR duties at Cake Beauty in Toronto.

In the beauty retail biz, the holiday season is fast approaching, so new holiday products will be launching soon. Getting hits in magazines and other print is something we always work on, but especially for the big shopping seasons!

FF: What are the three most valuable lessons you took with you from the Loyalist PR program?

JD: Number one, keep a positive attitude. Number two, manage and prioritize your time (tres important!). And number three, someone body is always watching, so try to be professional all the time. (A potential client/employer could see you acting like a dufus and not want any part of you or your organization.) Word of mouth is NUTS in this industry!

FF: What does it take to find a job in the field of public relations?

JD: Persistence, almost flirting with the line of being irritating. Make it known that you want to be there and will keep trying until you give you the time to ROCK the interview. Also, a positive attitude is important.

FF: Any words of wisdom for current and/or future Loyalist PR students?

JD: Be persistent, make the call/email, follow up! While on internship, don’t be afraid to ask questions. It shows that you care enough to ask (and if you don’t care, get an internship where you do!).

FF: Finally, and most importantly, what’s your favourite flavour of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream?

JD: Old reliable Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough… but when I’m feeling like a party…. Bananas on the Rum!