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.